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Are you Skeptical about Facebook’s Foray into the Healthcare Data Space?



Healthcare Data

Facebook already knows everything about you, be it your friends, family, professional and educational life etc. But, now it may also get an idea about the state of your health as well. Facebook is all set to foray into fertile field of healthcare data landscape as well.

Facebook’s old connection with the healthcare domain
A few years back, Facebook was planning to create online communities that would be intended to bridge the gap between the users suffering from various similar illnesses. The social networking site has been meetings up with medical industry professionals as well as healthcare entrepreneurs, to figure out a mind-blowing strategy to step in the healthcare domain.  The company was almost on the verge of launching a cutting-edge healthcare app.

Also, whether it comes to the extremely high success rate of Facebook’s “organ-donor status initiative,” a few years back or the present day scenarios where various healthcare companies are leveraging the customer base of Facebook to reach out to the maximum people, Facebook has several reasons to make good use of the healthcare sector.

A research done by Facebook showed that people with chronic illnesses like diabetes or asthma are searching for advice, or suggestions on the social site. Various patient networks are growing at a rapid pace which implies that the interest and comfort of patients of sharing treatment experiences, suggestions or symptoms is immensely increasing.

Facebook’s collaborating with hospitals is held up at the moment
The market is still going gaga over the incapability of Facebook when it comes to safeguarding the customer information. This has hugely impacted the functionality, usage and adoptability of Facebook and it is believed that the company is not breathing the best of days.

There was a buzz that probably Facebook is planning to exchange anonymized information with a set of health organizations, including some of the very renowned medical centers, for the sole purpose of medical research. The project was curated to be centered on developing valuable insights which may help medical experts take social relationship into consideration as they build treatment programs for the patients. The market was foreseeing the creation of a brain-speech interface amongst other related projects.

But, the project was halted in March, after the data analytics issue. The data analytics company was exposed of misusing the information attained from tons of Facebook users. Though, the social networking platform, Facebook is fine-tuning its approach to data security in the wake of the controversy. However, the company has not given any statement about restarting the healthcare project as of now.

The sharing of healthcare data with the healthcare organizations was as it is probably not at all a great idea even before the company was stuck by the analytics trouble. However Facebook was promising to use reliable medical channels to fetch the data, however, it still looked like the consent of the patients was given the least priority, which instead, should have been the most important parameter to perform such an activity.

Patient-generated healthcare related data is becoming very significant as healthcare organizations eye upstream care management. However, data security will always remain a critical parameter for organizations to maintain public trust. More focus is being given to social elements of health, chiefly access to food, housing, care services as these factors definitely effect an individual’s health.

Whether it’s a huge firm or a startup, new entrants have their eyes set on healthcare and a lot them are betting on data. However, it’s imperative the data is managed responsibly, with patients’ permission, and under HIPAA.

Facebook has only taken small steps into the healthcare domain so far, campaign to promote organ donation via the social site remains the most popular one. However, it is trying out different ways to step into the healthcare sector with a bang as well. Though, after the data security issue, the ‘hospitals project’ is on hold, but you never know when the company comes up with something better and more efficient.

Matt Wilson – A Healthcare Expert, working with Aegis HealthTech as senior developer from last 5 years. He has extensive experience in patient engagement software, EMR & EHR Development and hl7 integration.

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