Facebook Leans into Healthcare Advocacy

02/05/20
by Brandie Linfante

Facebook is working with the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American College of Cardiology, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their new consumer health initiative, utilizing and repurposing content from these advocacy groups to provide Facebook users with easy digestible healthcare information and recommendations. They are calling it the Facebook Preventative Health tool. It takes in elective data from users including their name, sex, age, and will serve up related healthcare messaging as part of the user experience.

These advocacy organizations are eager to get their content to the public in the most efficient and effective ways. Social media is a good way to deliver the message to the masses without geographic or socioeconomic confines. Facebook continues to try to enhance its platform with new and exciting ways to engage and service their users. The in-stream messaging will focus on evidence-based preventive measures meant to encourage dialogue with primary care doctors.

Facebook Preventative Health tool

Data safety concerns linger

Facebook isn’t the only innovator launching into the healthcare space asking people to voluntarily provide their data. Amazon’s Alexa Medical Skills for example is HIPPA compliant and collects data. Apple has several health apps that do the same. However, Facebook’s history of data harvesting, mishandling user data, and providing inadequate safeguards for up to 87 million people (Cambridge Analytica) may prove to be a barrier to adoption of the initiative.

The rise of visual social health content

Facebook users need to initiate the process by typing “preventative health” in the mobile app to receive basic education and reminders, helping them stay on top of their medical health. For example, most users would likely get reminders for annual check-ups, flu shots, women aged ≥40years could see dialogue about getting a PAP smear or mammogram, and men aged ≥40 years may see messages about getting blood pressure or cholesterol tests. The intention is to also provide general information about health on topics like tobacco use, obesity, and more. It will also provide information around the health center program and finding healthcare facilities that will provide care regardless of the ability to pay.

But where there is customer input and data there is always opportunity. It’s likely that marketers will be able to better target and provide content based on customer insights and receptibility.  

Facebook is positioning themselves as a resource and have implied that the information provided through the tool will not be shared with partners, and only a select group of Facebook employees will have strict access to the data. As of now, there isn’t any indication that they are asking people to provide a medical diagnosis, upload medical records, or prescription information, or physician reviews. But where there is customer input and data there is always opportunity. It’s likely that marketers will be able to better target and provide content based on customer insights and receptibility.  

The future looks “healthy”

Pharmaceutical brands often have much to offer with disease education materials. Many brands already have pages within the platform to afford people easy access to education. If Facebook avails itself to the incorporation of disease information and branded promotional materials for consumers within the preventative health tool, there will be significant targeted opportunities for these brands to tap into.  


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