Healthcare is a hot topic, with many companies not traditionally associated with medicine dipping their toes into the water, such as Amazon. Facebook may be the next to enter the marketplace; they are set to launch a new tool called Preventive Health that will encourage users to get medical checkups and will provide them with contact information for providers in their area.
Reaching Users with Preventive Health
Facebook’s new service will initiate a series of prompts encouraging users to schedule appointments for routine medical tests. Initially, it will focus on heart disease, cancer and flu—the top causes of death in the U.S. every year. Users will be able to search Facebook’s mobile app for a list of checkups recommended by partner organizations based on their age and gender. The social media giant is teaming up with the American Cancer Society, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop prevention reminders on a platform that millions of users access every day.
Once screening tests have been completed, Preventive Health will allow users to set reminders to schedule future tests and let friends know about the tool. Facebook will let users know who they can contact to schedule tests and where they can go for flu shots, steps that will help them become proactive about their health, but is quick to point out that results from the tests will remain confidential and Facebook will not obtain or use the results in any way, ensuring patient privacy.
Addressing these concerns, Facebook issued a statement that reads, “Health is particularly personal, so we took privacy and safety into account from the beginning. For example, Preventive Health allows you to set reminders for your future checkups and mark them as done, but it doesn’t provide us, or the health organizations we’re working with, access to your actual test results. Personal information about your activity in Preventive Health is not shared with third parties, such as health organizations or insurance companies, so it can’t be used for purposes like insurance eligibility.”
A lot is written about the negative impacts of social media, but in this case, it appears these tools could actually benefit a large segment of the population, one that currently doesn’t give much thought to routine medical care.