Facebook launches preventive health care tool

Facebook has launched a new preventive health tool designed to connect users with health care resources in their communities.

In a blog post on Monday, Facebook stated that it has teamed up with numerous health organizations to offer users everything from a list of local clinics to checkup reminders based on their age and gender.

“Preventive measures have the potential to detect disease early when it’s most treatable and, in some cases, prevent it from developing,” the company said. “Yet factors such as awareness, access and cost create barriers to testing for many people.”

Facebook says its initial focus is on heart disease and cancer, the two leading causes of death in the U.S. The tool, which can be found simply by searching “preventive health” on Facebook, will provide users with a checklist of tasks such as getting their blood pressure tested.

The tool will also remind users to check their cholesterol, get a mammogram, or receive flu shots depending on the time of year.

Since many Americans don’t have health insurance, Facebook says the preventive health care tool will help users find affordable testing sites in their area as well.

“Most of the preventive measures recommended by the health organizations we’re working with, such as blood pressure tests, are free of charge with insurance coverage, but we know many people do not have insurance,” Facebook said. “To help people get affordable care, Preventive Health offers a way to find Federally Qualified Health Centers near them. These centers are located in underserved areas and provide care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.”

Once a test has been finished, users can mark them as completed in the app and set reminders to schedule tests in the future also.

Given Facebook’s troubled history when it comes to user data, the company stressed that privacy was taken into account when designing the tool.

The blog post explains that neither Facebook nor the health organizations it’s partnering with will have access to any user test results. User activity in the tool will also be kept from third parties such as insurance companies.

The information users provide the tool with also won’t be used to serve ads, unless certain actions are made outside of the tool itself.

“As always, other actions that you take on Facebook could inform the ads you see, for example, liking the Facebook page of a health organization or visiting an external website linked to from Preventive Health,” the company said.

Facebook says it worked with the American College of Cardiology, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create the tool.

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H/T Bloomberg

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.