Facebook Looking to Shape an Online Health Community

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  • Maintaining health and wellness is becoming increasingly easier thanks to a new wave of mobile health apps and devices that are allowing consumers to be in control of their healthcare. Around 11% of US adult mobile phone users have downloaded an application to track or manage their health.
  • Facebook wants to expand into this health-minded field by offering an online support community for people suffering from various health disorders and other preventative care platforms to help people live healthier lives. Facebook noticed a need for patients to find support groups that are dealing with similar health conditions such as diabetes.
  • This isn’t the first time Facebook has emerged into healthcare. In 2012, Facebook introduced the successful organ donor status initiative which had 13, 054 US organ donors alter their profile page to identify their organ status and increased donor registrations by 21%.
  • Facebook is not the first online platform to dive into the healthcare field. PatientsLikeMe delivers a similar format as it allows patients to improve the lives of others by connecting with others’ shared symptoms, treatments, experiences and tracking their health online. Mayo Clinic launched a subscription-based app called Better that allows Mayo Clinical Nurses to be on call 24/7 for video chats to answer questions. This app also includes personal health info drawn from the patient’s history on Mayo database that provides easy access to symptom checker and a personal concierge that can schedule doctor appointments for you.

BalancedHealthy POV:

  • With so many variations of health apps and fitness bands, it is clear that health and wellness is at the forefront of consumers’ minds. The question is, does Facebook actually have the power to revolutionize the healthcare industry online? How will Facebook’s health-focused platform be different from other similar ventures such as PatientsLikeMe or Mayo Clinic? Facebook’s healthcare network will need to be more than just a health monitoring tool that people buy into for a limited amount of time and then never use again. Instead, Facebook needs to create a life-changing tool that transforms how people can use the online technology to take a proactive approach to their health.
  • While there is certainly a need for this market, questions arise as to how Facebook will be alleviating privacy concerns about people’s medical data being protected on such a public social networking site. When it comes to people’s health, privacy is of the utmost concern. There would need to be anonymity regarding people’s medical data. This concern mostly comes from Facebook’s past privacy policies where the site has leaked users’ personal information to outside advertisers. It would be vital that Facebook does not send any data to outside advertisers or pharmaceutical companies, in order to gain regain trust from its users.
  • Despite many rumors swirling around the internet about Facebook’s launch into healthcare, it remains clear that Facebook is working to increase user engagement on its site. Both Millennials and Gen Xers would be enticed to participate in Facebook’s healthcare network because these types of social media users are seeking security, self-expression and comfort from others online that have similar experiences. For convenience-minded consumers who prefer receiving health information from the internet and close friends and family, it will be easy for them to adapt to this type of online healthcare network. Only time will tell if Facebook is truly invested in transforming the healthcare online community in order to completely change the way users manage health and wellness within their lives.