Published: Thu, October 31, 2019
Medical | By

Facebook launches healthcare tool for checkup reminders

Facebook launches healthcare tool for checkup reminders

Almost a year and a half after the Cambridge Analytica scandal reportedly scuttled Facebook's fledgling attempts to enter the healthcare market, the social media giant is launching a tool called "Preventive Health" to prompt its users to get regular checkups and connect them to service providers. The initial focus is on heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death in the U.S., plus flu. Facebook will also be promoting the tool in users' News Feeds and allow people to share it with their family and friends. "By incorporating prevention reminders into platforms persons are accessing day-after-day, we're giving individuals the instruments they should be proactive about their coronary heart well being", stated Dr. Richard Kovacs, the president of the American Faculty of Cardiology, in an announcement.

The Preventive Health tool, now available only in the United States, can be accessed by either searching for it on Facebook or clicking on a promotion that might appear in newsfeeds. The American Cancer Society, the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recognized for their education and expertise in these areas, provide all the resources for the tool to work properly. Launched first in the United States, the tool is created to help users of the social networking giant to find affordable places to receive care, set reminders to schedule tests and mark when tests are completed. Finally, it also helps them tell others about the tool to increase awareness.

Ideally, the Preventive Health feature would have helped Dr Abnousi's father by reminding him to get blood pressure screenings.

Some of the common reasons why people didn't get preventive care include a lack of health insurance, not having a usual doctor or long wait times at clinics, according to the study. The tool is primarily aimed at some of the worst health crises in the country: heart disease, cancer and the flu.

Only time will tell whether Facebook users actually engage with the tool - especially since Facebook has recently faced privacy issues, including a hack previous year that exposed information on almost 50 million users of the social network.

If you use Preventive Health on Facebook, you can share the tool itself with your network, but not information within it - for example, Facebook says you won't be in danger of posting reminders of your mammogram from the tool to your timeline. Finally, the company claims it won't show ads based on the info you provide, such as what tests you choose to take. In June, the company announced it was expanding a tool that lets users sign up to be a blood donor to the US.

He added that personal information about any activity in the Preventive Health tool is not shared with third parties, such as health organizations or insurance companies.

"Preventive measures have the potential to detect disease early when it's most treatable and, in some cases, prevent it from developing", Abnousi said.

The new Preventive Health tool follows other Facebook public health initiatives launched recently.

As Engadget reports, this follows the success of Facebook's blood donation feature, which matches donors with blood banks and was introduced in the USA earlier this year after its launch in India in 2017. Meanwhile, lawmakers, activists and health experts have criticized Facebook for not doing enough to combat misinformation about vaccines.

Facebook's Preventative Health tool is limited to US users to start.

"We're going to spend the next six to 12 months really trying to understand whether people are engaging with this tool and whether it's helpful or not", he said.

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