Menlo Park, CA — Digital health care support has been growing more and more mainstream, and over a billion people are about to spot it in a brand-new space—Facebook. The social-media behemoth is launching Preventive Health, a program designed to make its feed-scrollers the world over more health-conscious, especially when it comes to cancer, heart disease, and the flu. New on-screen prompts will pepper the desktop and mobile interfaces reminding people to get tested and using geo-location to show them where. 

As its own preventive measure, Facebook, whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s regular testimonies about the company’s use of private data now feel like a mainstay of American politics, has already addressed what may seem like a red flag: what will Facebook do with its users’ uniquely sensitive health data? “Health is particularly personal, so we took privacy and safety into account from the beginning,” Facebook said in a statement. “For example, Preventive Health allows you to set reminders for your future checkups and mark them as done, but it doesn’t provide us, or the health organizations we’re working with, access to your actual test results. Personal information about your activity in Preventive Health is not shared with third parties, such as health organizations or insurance companies, so it can’t be used for purposes like insurance eligibility.” On top of that, Facebook is partnering with the experts: the American Cancer Society, the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, and the CDC.

“Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women around the world and in many cases it is 100% preventable,” said American College of Cardiology president Richard Kovacs. “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.”

Why This Matters

Patients expect to be supported comprehensively and met in their own preferred avenues of communication. Brands of all shapes and sizes are taking note, right-sizing their efforts to promote health-conscious proactivity among patients, which yields many and various advantages. “Flu vaccines can have wide-ranging benefits beyond just preventing the disease, such as reducing the risk of hospitalization, preventing serious medical events for some people with chronic diseases, and protecting women during and after pregnancy,” said the CDC’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier.

About the Author:

Ben helps spark innovative healthcare thinking as Associate Director of Innovation. Previously on the editorial staff of Vanity Fair, he brings experience in engaging, rigorous storytelling to the healthcare world. Ben’s goals are to move brands to rethink their roles, own their evolving narratives, and maintain vital and vigorous consumer relationships.