Facebook already knows a wealth of personal information about its members and if the latest report is accurate, they’ll soon be keeping tabs on your health. In the wake of industry tech giants Apple and Google stepping into the healthcare field, Facebook is said to be exploring its options in the potentially red-hot segment according to a new report from Reuters.
The social networking giant is still in the early idea-gathering phase according to three people familiar with the matter. Over the past few months, however, they’ve conducted meetings with medical experts as well as entrepreneurs and are setting up a research and development arm to test various health-related apps.
Healthcare has been an interest of Facebook's for quite some time although more pressing matters have always come first. But the recent and unexpected success of Facebook’s organ-donor status initiative combined with other tech giants’ interest in the field is pushing the matter up the to-do list.
One specific area of interest for Facebook is the creation of online “support communities” that would help link members suffering from various ailments. The product team has noticed that people with chronic conditions often search Facebook for advice from others. Elsewhere, patient networks have shown that people are more comfortable sharing symptom and treatment information with others online than they once were.
The first step for Facebook may be to quietly launch a health app under a different name to try and alleviate privacy concerns that some may have with Facebook’s name being attached to an app dealing with such sensitive data.