TV adverts remind us that, worryingly, 1 in 2 of us will get cancer at some stage in our lives.  And, whilst we know that we ‘should’ book regular cervical cancer tests, prostate examinations, blood pressure tests and sign up for flu vaccines, we aren’t always very good at carrying out the simple preventative steps that can help to diagnose early signs of disease.  Facebook believes this is why its new Preventive Health tool will be a welcome addition for users who are looking for more connected ways to monitor their health.  facebook preventive health tool Heart disease is one of the most common causes of ill health and causes a quarter of all premature deaths.  However, 50-80% of heart attacks and strokes are preventable.*  Facebook is developing products that are designed to help people connect with resources to support their health.

Millions of Blood Donors

Facebook have already launched a feature in the US, India, Brazil, Bangladesh and Pakistan that makes it easy to sign up as a blood donor on Facebook.  Once registered, donors get notified on Facebook when nearby blood banks are in need.  So far, more than 50 million people have signed up to donate! Their new Preventive Health tool is being developed in partnership with US health organisations that connect people to healthcare resources and checkup reminders.  Heart disease, cancer and flu affect millions each year and the new tool is offered as an easy and convenient way to keep track of health-related reminders.  

What type of tests are included?

People in the US can now search for Preventive Health in the Facebook mobile app to find out which checkup reminders they can receive.  Currently, there are reminders that include cholesterol tests, mammograms and flu shots, and can be based on the users age and sex details that they provide. The tool allows people to mark when tests are completed, set reminders to schedule future tests and tell loved ones about the tool to increase awareness of preventive care.  People can also learn more about each checkup and where to find affordable places to receive care 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. 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.” – Richard Kovacs, MD, President of the American College of Cardiology

9 health checks that could save your life:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening
  • Blood pressure tests
  • Bowel cancer screening
  • Breast screening
  • Cervical screening
  • Cholesterol tests
  • NHS health check
  • Skin checks
  • Vaccinations
If you’re in the UK, you can get an NHS Health Check if you’re between the ages of 40-74.  Your local pharmacy also has a wide range of information about additional tests that you may be eligible for. Over time, Facebook plan to work with additional organisations to include more resources and expand to other countries.

Privacy Matters

Privacy is bound to be a sensitive subject and never more so than when discussing personal healthcare information.  Whilst the Preventive Health tool allows you to set reminders for your future checkups and mark them as done, Facebook says it doesn’t provide them, or anyone else, with access to your actual test results.  Facebook are quick to assure users of the tool that personal information about activity in Preventive Health is not shared with third parties, such as health organisations or insurance companies. The data, therefore, can’t be used for purposes such as insurance eligibility.  This will be a hot topic to monitor and questions have to be asked about how any of the data received could be interpreted. Facebook are also keen to point out that they will not show ads based on the information people provide in Preventive Health.  This includes information like setting a reminder for a test, marking it as done or searching for a healthcare location.  However, other actions that you take on Facebook could inform the ads you see. For example, liking the Facebook page of a health organisation or visiting an external website linked to from the Preventive Health tool may affect the Facebook ads that you are shown. 

How does this help health organisations? 

  • According to Facebook, blood bank partners in India and Brazil report that 20% of voluntary, walk-in blood donors come from Facebook.
  • Disease Prevention Maps from Facebook help nonprofits and universities working in public health to get ahead of disease outbreaks.  They are able to plan vaccination campaigns and reach vulnerable communities more effectively.
  • People turn to health groups on Facebook to connect with others who have had similar health experiences to find information and support. 

Will Facebook users like the new healthcare tool?

It will be interesting to see what users think of their experience with the new healthcare tool and whether any concerns over privacy and data protection hamper its use around the world.   If you’d like to see how Aitkens Media can help you, get in touch for a friendly chat.
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