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Facebook & # 39; s new preventive health tool encourages people to argue for their health

Starting today, Facebook allows users to choose to receive personalized reminders about health tests and vaccines. The company's new preventive health tool focuses on getting information about cancer screening, heart checks, and flu vaccines – all measures that can hopefully help people cope with fatalities long before they die.

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The tool is simply called Preventive Health and is now available for Facebook users in the United States. It takes a user's age and gender from his Facebook profile and provides him with a list of recommended screenings based on those two data points.

"Let's say you're 52 years old," says Freddy Abnousi, head of Facebook's health care, The edge. "One of the things that will come to you – based on the recommendations of the American Cancer Society – is that you should have a colon cancer screening." Abnousi says the app will give you more information about which types of tests are available, from a colonoscopy to a stool test or a CT scan. Abnousi hopes that users will then take what they have learned and talk to their doctor about what would be best for them. Users can also adjust the age and gender in the tool to get different screening recommendations without affecting their profile.

This is Facebook's second venture for health-related tools. His other effort, promoting local blood disorders, was launched in the United States in June after the debut in India in 2017. In general, both tools are a much easier access to the health room than other tech giants have done. Amazon has visited online pharmacies and electronic health records, Apple is monitoring your heart rate and Google may be trying to buy Fitbit. The newest entry on Facebook, on the other hand, is essentially improved reference pages from official websites that have been merged with a calendar reminder and are geared to a broad demography rather than to individuals.

If you have a doctor, they can send you similar reminders every year – come in to have your smear or your cholesterol checked. Facebook's system is similar, but more general, because it is not linked to medical records or doctor's practices.

"We never see anything of your healthcare," says Abnousi. "This is simply gathering information, making it understandable and delivering it to our users and people on Facebook."

In the tool, people can schedule a reminder for their screening and indicate when it will be completed. If they don't have a doctor, they can also look for locations for more affordable & # 39; federally qualified health centers, where they can talk to a provider about these screenings. (The app also shows where people can get a flu shot during the flu season.)


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If you use Preventive Health on Facebook, you can share the tool with your network yourself, but no information in it – Facebook says, for example, that you run no risk of posting reminders from your mammogram from the tool to your timeline.

Other privacy measures are described in detail in announcements for the new tool. In one message, Erin Egan, VP and Chief Privacy Officer of the public policy, writes: “We do not share personal information about your Preventive Health activity with third parties, such as health organizations or insurance companies, so it cannot be used for purposes such as being eligible for insurance another message, Abnousi adds: "We do not display ads based on the information you provide in Preventive Health – including things like setting a reminder for a test, marking it as complete, or searching for a healthcare location. "

A limited group of developers on Facebook will get a limited amount of data about whether people will click on the tool at all and will use it to tweak it in the next six months to a year. If it turns out to be popular, they will consider expanding efforts to more countries, or including more information. About a week after the launch in English, Facebook says it will launch a Spanish version.

The recommendations presented in the tool are based on information from organizations such as the American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Cancer Society, and have been assessed by these organizations for accuracy before being placed on the tool.

Abnousi says the position of Facebook is: "let's focus on providing prevention tools to the experts, and hopefully they will manage their own preventive care." with friends remains to be seen.