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Facebook Launches Platform to Promote Preventive Care Access

Amazon, Walmart, Uber, Lyft, Google, now Facebook...noticing a trend yet? The giants are flooding into healthcare, which means major industry disruption is coming! Facebook's new preventive health functionality tool will remind you about when to schedule well exams, screenings, vaccines, etc. This tool serves as your preventive medicine to-do list, but in digital form. It will be interesting to see if Facebook has worked out the kinks on third-party data access, security, and ethical use of patient data. This continues to be a concern among industry experts.

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Originally posted on Patient Engagement HIT

By: Sara Health

Facebook is getting in on the healthcare game, launching the Preventive Health functionality that aims to promote patient access to preventive care and connect patients with key health resources.

In partnership with the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, the American Cancer Society, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent, Facebook will target preventive care and screenings for cancer and heart disease, the two leading causes of death in the US.

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women around the world and in many cases it is 100% preventable,” said Richard Kovacs, MD, the president of the American College of Cardiology. “By incorporating prevention reminders into platforms people are accessing every day, we’re giving people the tools they need to be proactive about their heart health.”

Users can search Preventive Health in their Facebook mobile apps to help them find out which preventive care measures, such as mammograms or cholesterol checks, are recommended by leading medical providers based on the age, sex, and other demographic data Facebook has stored about the user.

The function will also push flu shot and other preventive vaccine reminders when they are appropriate.

“Flu vaccines can have wide-ranging benefits beyond just preventing the disease, such as reducing the risk of hospitalization, preventing serious medical events for some people with chronic diseases, and protecting women during and after pregnancy,” according to Nancy Messonier, MD, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.

“New tools like this will empower users with instant access to information and resources they need to become a flu fighter in their own communities.”

The tool also allows users to create a to-do list for these preventive screening, check off when they have received these screenings, set reminders to schedule preventive care, and shop around for affordable preventive screenings.

And while most of the preventive care screenings listed in Preventive Health come free of charge under most insurance plans, Facebook has listed key information about low-cost care sites to account for users who may not have health insurance. Specifically, the social media platform has listed the federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) that may deliver preventive screenings to patients for free or for a low cost.

As with most Facebook ventures, the question of data security has been top of mind for healthcare experts.

Facebook says it will not have access to user test results following a preventive screening.

The social media giant also stated it would not target ads to users based on their activity within Preventive Health, although health-related activity outside the platform – liking the page for a health center a patient visited, for example – may generate a targeted ad. Facebook also promised that it would not share any health-related information with third parties.

Ultimately, Facebook and its partner organizations aim for the Preventive Health platform to drive patient empowerment and create a mechanism by which patients can learn about the different preventive steps they may take to keep chronic illness at bay.

“We’ve contributed our content and resources to the Facebook Preventive Health tool to empower Americans to take the first step to know about and take action to lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, each of which has been shown to increase the chance of a longer, healthier life and reduce the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke,” said Eduardo Sanchez, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Prevention at the American Heart Association.

Richard Wender, MD, the chief cancer control officer for the American Cancer Society, similarly stated that Preventive Health can help patients navigate the vast web of preventive services that can help achieve early cancer detection, a leading driver of cancer survival rates.

“One of the main reasons people don’t get screened for cancer is that they don’t realize their own risk. We hope this program will help by building awareness about important recommendations from expert organizations,” Wender explained.

Facebook is not the first technology giant to dip its toes into the healthcare pool. In 2018, Apple announced its Apple Health Records platform, an iPhone app that allows users to aggregate their patient portal data and information from other health apps into one, singular personal health record.

Earlier this year, Android unveiled plans to create a similar app to serve those who do not use an iPhone.

To be clear, this Facebook platform is not a personal health record and will not store any test results. However, the security questions that have beleaguered the social medial platform — and Apple and Android to a certain extent — will likely continue.

Despite its promises for data security, industry experts are still questioning the third-party data access, security, and ethical use of patient data upon this Facebook announcement.

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