Healthcare Technology Featured Article

October 06, 2014

Facebook Eying Healthcare

The healthcare market in the U.S. alone is worth trillions of dollars, and any company that doesn't seriously consider addressing this segment is missing out on great opportunities. As the healthcare industry continues to increase its reliance on information and communications technologies (ICT), companies that provide technology solutions are poised to generate new long-term streams of revenue. An exclusive article written by Christina Farr and Alexei Oreskovic from Reuters, has revealed Facebook is considering a move into the healthcare, according to three anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

These sources have revealed the company is looking into providing support communities for consumers with chronic conditions and a preventative care application designed to assist individuals that are trying to improve their well-being. According to Reuters, Facebook is in the early developmental stages of this new solution, and it is meeting with healthcare industry experts and entrepreneurs as well as developing research and development processes to test the application.

Reuters revealed the catalyst for this move by Facebook was based on the success the company had with its “organ-donor status initiative,” introduced in 2012. When its members were given options of revealing their organ donor status, 13,054 people registered to be organ donors online in the United States in one day, which was a 21 fold increase of the daily average of 616. While 13 thousand is a number Facebook probably uses in its margin of error, it never the less highlighted a new potential market the company could start addressing.

The move by Facebook is going to allow the company to offer valuable insight into the well-being of its one billion plus users around the world. As healthcare service providers, insurers and employees look into providing wellness solutions, they will need a platform that is able to deliver reliable data at all times. And if there's one thing Facebook has, it is massive amounts of data covering every imaginable spectrum.

A Facebook insider has also revealed consumers are increasingly more willing to share their symptoms and treatment experiences online for their chronic conditions such as diabetes or weight loss experiences. These individuals used social networking sites to search for advice and find different solutions for their particular problem. The product teams also recognized this particular trend to start looking in to providing healthcare solutions.

However, having all of this data does not mean Facebook will have an easy time of entering into the healthcare market. The industry has strict regulatory compliances that have to be followed to the letter in order to ensure the privacy of its users. As it stands currently, Facebook would be in violation of many HIPAA rules resulting in millions of dollars in fines. One example of the compliance regulations is pharmaceutical companies are not allowed to use Facebook to promote the sale of prescription drugs, which is just a tip of the iceberg.

The market is a fertile ground for a data driven company such as Facebook, but it is going to take more time to fully integrate its platform without running afoul of the many rules and regulation currently existing in the U.S. healthcare system.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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