The day after Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) publicly addressed how it will use research gained by its data collection in the wake of a furor caused by its emotions study earlier in the year, Reuters is reporting that Facebook is making its first steps into the money making healthcare field. This according to three people close to the plan who spoke with Reuters on conditions of of anonymity.
Apparently, their plans include “support communities” that would connect Facebook users who share common afflictions and ailments. Another small team is working on “preventive care” apps not dissimilar to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s plans for HealthKit as well as other companies wearable health tech.
Facebook’s healthcare program still in early stages
According to the Reuters’ exclusive, Facebook remains in the brainstorming stage but has been regularly meeting with industry experts and entrepreneurs while it is also putting together a research and development team for the future testing of health apps.
In 2012, Facebook launched the “organ-donor status initiative,” which saw over 13,000 people register to be organ donors in a single day compared to the daily average of 616 according to the American Journal of Transplantation. So despite what are sure to be numerous privacy concerns, Facebook can fill a need with regards to the health of others.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg recently donated $5 million to the Ravenswood Health Center in East Palo Alto, an area that should never be confused with Palo Alto. It is a poverty-stricken area with a high crime rate and many uninsured residents. Additonally, his wife Priscilla Chan is a pediatric resident at University of California San Francisco, so the two have clear concerns about others’ health.
Obvious privacy concerns
But any healthcare work that Facebook does will immediately come with cries of foul play with regard to privacy and Facebook’s newly adopted “real name” policy will certainly need to be modified if people with chronic illnesses are meant to connect with each other are to succeed. Anonymity with regards to health is of paramount importance to many.
“I could see Facebook doing well with applications for lifestyle and wellness, but really sick patients with conditions like cancer aren’t fooling around,” said Frank Williams, chief executive of Evolent Health echoing these concerns.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) did not comment with regards to the Reuters’ report.