Facebook launches healthcare tool for checkup reminders

Checkups and tests are recommended by health organizations Facebook is working withFacebook

Checkups and tests are recommended by health organizations Facebook is working withFacebook

Users will be able to search for Preventive Health in the mobile app and gain access to a wealth of resources for their age and sex.

As its name suggests, the new tool will encourage you to attend scans and tests that can detect potential problems early, enabling you and your doctor to take action before they become anything serious.

"Our initial focus is on the top two leading causes of death in the USA: heart disease and cancer, (according to CDC) as well as the flu, a seasonal illness that affects millions each year", Freddy Abnousi, Facebook's Head of Healthcare Research said in a blog post on Monday.

Facebook has a reminder for its USA users: get your flu shot, blood pressure test, cancer screening and other preventive health care from your doctor.

An instrument like the Preventive Health tool could help someone like Abnousi's father manage their cardiovascular health care with blood pressure screenings, for instance. Your age and sex is based on your Facebook profile by default, but you can change these in the Preventive Health tool.

The social network says you can use the tool on its mobile app to find out what kind of preventive screenings are recommended for your sex and age - say, blood sugar and cholesterol tests or a mammogram - by the United States health organizations it worked with.

The tool itself also can be shared with friends to increase awareness of preventive care. "People can also learn more about each checkup and find affordable places to receive care", the firm said on Monday. These centers are located in underserved areas and provide care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

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When it comes to seasonal illnesses, the Preventive Health tool also includes a way to find where flu shots are being offered, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and urgent care clinics. Facebook won't have access to user test results.

Finally, since Facebook's history is marred by numerous privacy issues, the company is trying to preempt concerns by stressing that Preventive Health doesn't provide the company access to your test results.

"Secondly, your use of the Preventive Health tool on Facebook is not visible to any other Facebook users". Your activity when you use the tool also won't be shared to health insurance companies or other third-parties, the social network said.

Dr. Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer at the American Cancer Society, which helped develop the tool, said that he hopes it will improve cancer screening rates and public health nationwide.

As Engadget reports, this follows the success of Facebook's blood donation feature, which matches donors with blood banks and was introduced in the USA earlier this year after its launch in India in 2017. Meanwhile, lawmakers, activists and health experts have criticized Facebook for not doing enough to combat misinformation about vaccines.

Almost a year and a half after the Cambridge Analytica scandal reportedly scuttled Facebook's fledgling attempts to enter the healthcare market, the social media giant is launching a tool called "Preventive Health" to prompt its users to get regular checkups and connect them to service providers.

"Once we figure that out is when we're going to start thinking about expansion".

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