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Patient privacy and analytics.

Almost six years ago, the European Union put GDPR into action. GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation. This regulation was an update to an older privacy protection policy and states that a website cannot collect any data about a user without their explicit consent and that users can’t be blocked from using a website if they do not consent to cookie tracking. This regulation led to policies in the US, like the California Consumer Privacy Act, and has made cookies a major talking point in advertising and websites. No, we’re not talking about chocolate chips here, we’re talking about small pieces of text sent to a user’s browser by a website you visit.


Cookies can be very useful, ensuring websites function properly and making the user experience more enjoyable. However, they can also track users across the web, following what websites they visit, what ads they click, and what products they view. It’s this kind of information from cookies that has been at the center of the privacy debate and transformation over the past few years.

In healthcare particularly, it’s so important to keep patient information private and anonymous. It’s a common concern and probably one of our most asked-about topics. What exactly is being collected from a clinical trial prescreening website? Are any personal details, like name, address, or health information, being passed to advertisers like Google and Facebook? How do we respect user privacy and our plan for a cookie less world, all without comprising the analytics that drives decision-making? It’s these types of questions we want to talk about today.

Consent management platforms (CMPs).

These days, it’s very rare to visit a website that doesn’t have some sort of pop-up or banner asking you if you agree to cookies. These CMP banners, also known as CCM (cookie consent manager) banners, are pieces of code that are added to a website to specifically collect a user’s consent or denial to have cookies active on the website while they browse. Users can accept all, reject all, or pick and choose which cookies they want to accept and which they want to reject. CMPs are the first and one of the most crucial steps to ensuring patient privacy on the web. Some of the most popular CMPs are Cookiebot and OneTrust.

Consent mode.

In the world of website analytics, there are tools called “tags.” These small snippets of code track how users interact with a website so that marketers can make optimizations to improve the user experience and increase conversions. With clinical trials, that conversion is inquiries about the trial and potential enrollment.

Within Google’s tag management system called Google Tag Manager, there is a consent mode that integrates with our CMP. This integration ensures that no tags fire without the user’s explicit consent and that no data will be sent to Google or Facebook. This integration has automatic “checks” based on which cookies have been accepted by a user that communicates with the tag manager to tell it whether or not to fire a tag. It can also communicate back to advertising platforms like Google Ads that the website owner is being responsible and honoring the user’s choices.

Server-side tracking.

Cookies set by Google, Facebook, and other advertising platforms have historically been able to collect unlimited data because they were set directly in the user’s browser. There was no way of limiting what data was sent to these advertisers if you were using pixel tracking. The introduction of server-side tracking has made it possible to limit what data goes to these platforms. This method involves introducing an organization-owned server and sending data to that before sending it to Google or Facebook. This allows the website owners to carefully select what data gets forwarded to advertisers, further keeping user data secure.

With cookies all but dead, server-side tracking is what the future of website analytics looks like. It’s a method that Praxis has already adopted and started putting to work for our current and future clinical trial websites.


Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help ensure your participants’ data stays private.