GE Privacy

Introduction: protecting your privacy, enhancing your online experience

When it comes to data privacy, protecting your personal information is most important. We feel it’s also important to give you, your colleagues, and your family members a voice in the development of this web site and your overall experience with it. To do this, we need to collect certain types of information to help us evaluate how the HealthAhead web site is being used, so we can continually improve your experience and the content we offer to you. By tracking overall usage patterns, providing an easy channel for your feedback, and allowing you to tell us what content is most useful to you, we can refine our offerings and provide more of the content you personally find valuable.

Overall, we are committed to giving you the option to participate – or not participate – in a manner that’s right for you. Read more for how we do this.

Information we collect and how we use it

Identifiable Information Collecting

All methods of identifying yourself to GE will be optional and opt-in, may be updated by you at any time, and will not be required for all areas of the web site.

We will not collect any identifiable user information from the areas of the HealthAhead web site which do not require SSO (Single Sign On), unique User ID (Identification), and/or Password.

There are areas of the web site that require you to identify yourself to us (authenticate). This allows you to access certain parts of the web site that may otherwise be restricted for privacy and security purposes.

There are also areas that may provide the option to create a personalized profile. The information you provide is optional and what you tell us will determine the level of personalization you will experience.

Access to identifiable information is restricted to internal, administrative personnel and solely for purposes of providing web site support, awarding prizes and other recognition, and customizing the web site content and overall functionality for the user. However, we will also allow you to change your mind and opt-out of sharing personal information with us at any time.

Non-Identifiable Information Collecting

When you visit the HealthAhead web site, we track, collect and report on certain aggregate and non- identifiable information. In other words, the information we collect does not relate to a single identifiable visitor. It tells us things such as how many users visited our web site and what pages they viewed.

This non-identifiable data will be collected and stored in a secure database in the U.S., and may be viewed by GE. We will analyze this information to refine our web site to better reflect user preferences, such as the type of content users are searching for most, and to improve the usability of the web site and the user’s web site experience. The information may also be used for purposes of promoting the web site. The data will not be used for medical analysis or other medical purposes.


Like many web sites, the HealthAhead web site uses browser cookies – bits of text placed on your computer’s hard drive when you visit. We use them to tell us things like whether you’ve visited us before, and to help us identify features in which you may have the greatest interest. We also use cookies to track country and language selection.

In the future, we may use cookies to track additional details, such as city and state.

We keep this information unless you don’t wish GE to capture this and choose to delete your cookie history. If you wish to stop accepting new browser cookies, get notification when you receive a new cookie, or disable existing cookies, the “help” portion of the toolbar on most browsers will tell you how. Keep in mind, without browser cookies, you may not be able to take full advantage of all our web site features or have your preferences saved for future visits.

We also use Flash cookies on the web site to enhance your online experience. These are similar to browser cookies, but they store data more complex than simple text. Flash cookies, by themselves, cannot do anything to or with the data on your computer. In addition, Flash cookies cannot access or remember your email address or other personal information unless you provide the information on this web site.

Web Beacons

Certain pages on our web site contain “web beacons” (also known as Internet tags, pixel tags and clear GIFs). These web beacons obtain information such as the time the page was viewed, the type of browser used to view the page, and the information in cookies. Web beacon data does not include IP address. The web beacon data is stored at Google Analytics, a third party (see ‘Tracking and Reporting’ for more information on this technology).

Tracking and Reporting

Specifically we will track, collect and report on the following data using software from Google Analytics. For more information about Google Analytics, including information about how to opt out of these technologies, go to

Our primary metrics include: Poll response rate, repeat visits, number of times content is shared, and visits by country.

The sub-metrics include:

Most Popular Content Types, Most Popular Content Topics, User Pathing, Exit Links, Bounce Rate, Traffic by Source (region), Time on Web site, Visit Time of Day, Unique Views/Page Views, Thumps Up/Down, Most Shared Content, Number of Times Content is Rated, Most Rated Content by Type, Language Selection.

We will also be tracking how much communicators, web site leaders and other HealthAhead operations teams are leveraging the web site to support and align their business, regional and web site specific efforts. Some of these metrics may be tracked using existing support central tools.

These metrics may include:

Number of Content Submissions by Region, Number of non-corporate Driven Promotions by RCs, Number of Promotional Downloads by Region, Support Central Survey

Feedback Form

Your feedback is important to the web site’s ongoing development, so we’d love to hear your opinions and ideas. To contact us, please use this Feedback form. We will not be able to respond directly, but all feedback will be reviewed, evaluated, and factored into future content decisions. Please note: this form is monitored by IT support staff only. Please do not submit any personal or medical information. And thank you in advance!

Poll and Quiz Responses

On the web site, we will conduct polls and quizzes to better understand user activities, attitudes, interests and knowledge across multiple health topics. These polls may also help us serve you better by asking questions that relate to the usefulness of our web site. We will not capture any personally identifiable information through the collection of poll response data. As part of these polls and quizzes, we will capture responses sorted by country. In the future, we may capture responses sorted by additional anonymous demographics such as language, affiliated GE business, work web site location, gender, etc.

Sharing Content with Family and Friends

We want you to share the web site’s content with important people in your life, so most articles, videos and slideshows can be emailed. To do so, we will ask you to provide your name and the recipient’s email address. We simply use this information to send the content as you request. At this time, we do not capture or store your, or the recipient’s, email address. Please see below to learn how we track and report on email sharing activity.

Please also review GE’s Social Media Guidelines

How we protect information

GE maintains administrative, technical and physical safeguards to protect against unauthorized disclosure, use, alteration or destruction of any information you provide on this web site. We use secure socket layer (SSL) technology to help keep the information you provide on this web site secure. See ‘Information We Share’ and ‘Information We Transfer’ for additional details.

Information we share

We do not sell or otherwise disclose personal information about our visitors, except as described here. We may share information provided by visitors with service providers we have retained to perform services on our behalf. These service providers are contractually restricted from using or disclosing the information, except as necessary to perform services on our behalf or comply with legal requirements. In addition, we may disclose information about you if we are required to do so by law or legal process; to law enforcement authorities or other government officials; or when we believe disclosure is necessary or appropriate to prevent physical harm or financial loss or in connection with an investigation of suspected or actual illegal activity.

Information we transfer

We may transfer the information we collect on this web site to other countries where we do business, but only for the purposes described above. When we transfer your information to other countries, we will protect that information as described here unless otherwise required by applicable laws.

Links to other web sites

We provide links to other web sites for your convenience and information. These web sites may have their own privacy statements in place, which we recommend you review if you visit any linked web sites. We are not responsible for the content of linked web sites or any use of the web sites.

Children’s privacy

This web site is not directed to children under the age of thirteen and we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of thirteen on the web site. If we become aware that we have inadvertently received personal information from a visitor under the age of thirteen, we will delete the information from our records.

Some links on this web site may take web site visitors to web sites that are directed to children. These web sites have their own privacy notices that address children’s privacy. We encourage you to read these privacy notices if you visit any linked web sites directed to children.

Updates to our privacy & data policy

This Privacy & Data Policy may be updated periodically and without prior notice to you to reflect changes in our online information practices. We will post a notice on this web site to notify you of any significant changes to our Privacy & Data Policy, and indicate at the top of this policy when it was most recently updated.

How to contact us

If you have any questions or comments about this Privacy & Data Policy, or if you would like us to update information we have about you or your preferences, please contact us by visiting our Feedback Form.

HealthAhead Mon, 11/18/2019 - 00:00
Kids and Germs: The Role of Non-Prevention
Kids and Germs

Small children are adept at getting everything within reach into their mouths. Attentive parents are equally as adept at wiping, disinfecting, and cleaning their children and the environments in which they live. Is this overwhelming fear of germs necessary? Children are at risk of infectious disease from contact with germs, but too little contact with germs can also put our children at risk for weakened immune systems, asthma, and allergies. How can you tell if you are overprotecting your child from germs?


The word “germ” refers to infectious one-cell microbes such as bacteria. Germs, in medical terms, are pathogens, which are harmful. Viruses and fungi may be pathogenic, but technically they aren’t germs. However, some medical theorists use the word “germ” to generically refer to all pathogenic organisms, including fungi and viruses. These creatures are all around us; they live on surfaces, in the air, and within our bodies. In fact, there are more bacterial cells in the human body than there are human body cells!

Bacteria can be harmful or helpful to human beings. For example, “good” bacteria in the digestive system help us digest food and produce vitamins that the body cannot make on its own. Not all germs are so friendly. Infectious diseases such as influenza, strep throat, and salmonella are spread through contact with specific types of pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria. In order to prevent the spread of these diseases, it’s important to follow basic hygiene rules such as washing your hands after using the restroom, cooking meat thoroughly, and disinfecting dishes that have come into contact with raw meat. It’s because of the potentially deadly effect of some pathogens that modern societies have become obsessed with cleaning. This has led to some unintended consequences.

The Hygiene Hypothesis

The last few decades has seen an increase in the number of people affected by allergies. In an effort to explain this, some scientists proposed the “hygiene hypothesis.” In 1989, British researcher David P. Strachan noted that children from single-child homes were more likely to suffer from hay fever, allergies, and eczema than children from larger families. He suggested that children living in large families are more likely to come into contact with a wide variety of germs, compared to an only child.

From the time a child is born, he has to defend himself from the myriad of foreign invaders living in his new home. A newborn's immune system is a clean slate. During early childhood, a person “learns” how to fend off pathogens by coming into contact with them. If a newborn is kept in a germ-free environment, the immune system does not have this learning experience and remains unable to prevent attacks by bacteria and viruses. On the other hand, if children have the opportunity to be exposed to pathogens as they are growing up, their immune systems “learn” how to fight off these infections.

Antibiotic Dilemma

When your child gets sick, your immediate response is to get a remedy for the illness. But the human body’s immune system is a built-in method for halting the spread of pathogens, and sometimes it is not given the chance to do its job. A recent study published in The American Journal of Epidemiology showed that the risk of a child developing asthma and allergies by age six significantly increased if the child received antibiotics before the age of six months. The cause of this link is unknown, but other studies have linked early childhood antibiotics with immune system problems later in life.

In addition, the heavy reliance of people of all ages on antibiotic products has led to the creation of super-bacteria that are resistant to most antibiotics available today. The spread of methicillin-resistantstaphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is attributed to the overuse of antibiotics.

Healthy Kids

What's a concerned parent to do? Check your cabinets at home. If they are well-stocked with antibacterial wipes, triclosan-laced soaps, and anti-microbial sprays, you may be overdoing it. Keeping a completely sanitized house prevents your growing child from being exposed to microbes that will allow for the healthy development of a strong immune system. This doesn't mean you have to spread dirt around the floor and let the chickens come inside, but letting your child handle unsterilized toys is probably safe. Also, when your child gets sick, talk to the doctor about treatment options and know that a strong course of antibiotics isn’t always the best solution.

Set your sights on long-term health for your young ones, and try not to reach for the hand sanitizer every time they pet the dog.