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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, millions of Americans are missing out on preventative care. There is a fairly new concept created by Facebook to try and address this concerning problem. By combining Facebook user information with the medical history of the user, the new approach hopes to influence the patient’s outcome. 

By analysing the data, users already supply through Facebook (education, language, employment status, relationships) the preventative health tool has the potential to recognise and detect disease early and catch it when it is most treatable. 

Based upon the individual needs of the patient, the health preventative tool is looking at heart-focused diseases, cancer, and the seasonal flu. It is based upon guidelines set out by various health organisations including the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American College of Cardiology and the American Cancer Society. 

Users of the tool can choose to get more information based upon the recommendations, and they can set reminders to undertake the suggested course of action that is recommended. The guidelines do not cover everything and there will be times users will need to speak to healthcare professionals for further recommendations however it is a great start when considering various factors such as awareness, access and cost for some patients. 

Whilst most of the preventative measures are covered by insurance there is a handy feature that highlights qualified health centers that will provide services regardless of the patient’s cover or ability to pay. An example of this is if a patient needs the flu shot the tool can find where the shots are being offered like grocery stores, pharmacies and urgent care clinics. 

It is important to note, Facebook has addressed the privacy concerns of users and stated the information collected is not given to any third parties like insurance companies. There is an expectation the tool will be expanded to other countries and reach Australia soon, along with more resources being added outside of the heart, cancer and flu realm. 

In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis the potential this tool could have (were we prepared) is phenomenal. Based upon patient behaviors the tool could track potential high-risk patients, direct them to correct testing facilities and supply them with the right course of action. Even further than that, the tool has the ability to recognise who they came in contact with. 

Whilst revenue is always a target for large corporations perhaps, in this case, it isn’t the direct monetisation but becoming just another integral part of a different facet of its many users. 

History shows us it coincides with Facebook’s operating strategy. Creating a convenient product in a space that few other people are in and then leverage it to become a tool that people can not be without. A few examples of this is its ascent to profiting from social data and turning something so simple as likes into ad revenue. A space in the digital world that previously had not been claimed to its full potential. Whilst the tool is only in the early stages at the moment, it’s easy to see how advantageous it is and the potential it has to grow. 

 

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