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Facebook toys with healthcare, but will consumers want to play?

Corey Schwartz is the Managing Director of Communispace Health, which is dedicated to helping pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and diagnostic, and insurance companies move confidently towards a more patient-centric approach – securely and privately.

Facebook is considering introducing online patient “support communities,” as well as “preventative care” apps focused on helping people lead healthier lifestyles, according to an exclusive report by Reuters.

Online communities are amazing forums for people to come together to gather comfort, strength, and support from one another, as well as for receiving guidance on disease management. But will users perceive Facebook-managed patient communities as safe and secure, and will they do anything to alleviate people’s Facebook privacy concerns?

If the Reuters rumors are true, Facebook may appease these privacy concerns by launching the health application under a different name — Healthbook or Instahealth, perhaps? And, for the first time ever, the company may allow users to use pseudonyms to ensure their complete anonymity when participating in the healthcare communities.

This could be a great step forward for modern healthcare. But overcoming privacy concerns will require more than a name change. And using pseudonyms may work just fine for some patients; many others may not feel comfortable sharing their personal health information with a community of anonymous members.

The strength of patient communities is that they are inherently secure and trusting, allowing for open and honest dialogue. If launched, will Facebook’s healthcare communities be able to do the same?


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