Facebook is adding preventive health capabilities to its platform. What does this mean for mobile health marketers?
The average person’s increasingly digital lifestyle has changed the healthcare landscape, and that means more than just wearable devices. Innovative telehealth pilot programs have been able to reach critically underserved patients in rural areas, effectively breaking down structural barriers to wellness. Patients now ask their digital assistants for medical advice, and mHealth tools have become so mainstream that there are “genius bars” devoted to helping patients navigate their connected medical devices.
Following in the footsteps of Amazon’s “Alexa Care” and Sony’s new mHealth platform, another corporate giant is wading into the medical industry. Here’s what medical marketers need to know about Facebook’s latest healthcare initiative.
Facebook Debuts New Preventive Health Tool
Facebook has recently partnered with four prominent global health organizations like the American Heart Association and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to bring preventive care to its platform. Users enter “preventive health” into Facebook’s mobile app, enter their name and age, and receive personalized health recommendations that they can bring to their primary care physicians. Users’ personal health data will only be seen by a small group of Facebook employees and strict privacy precautions will be taken.
The primary goal of this collaboration is to raise awareness about heart disease and cancer, the top two causes of premature death in the world. Many of these deaths can be prevented if patients adopt healthier behaviors, but healthcare providers often find it difficult to effectively disseminate this information. Tapping into Facebook’s 2.5 billion active users is a step in the right direction.
The Connection Between Social Media, Preventive Care, and Digital Marketing
The popularity of wearables and other devices geared toward maintaining health outside of the doctor’s office is a good indicator that the tide has turned toward preventive care. According to a VivaLNK survey, 64 percent of respondents said they would use wearables if that meant fewer trips to the doctor and 55 percent said they would wear them even if they still had to go. This behavior shows a strong interest in personal health self-monitoring. Once people have the resources to keep themselves well, they’re eager to do so.
Social media is an important component of preventive care because it provides an active, vibrant community for patients to engage with each other and their healthcare providers. A Surgery medical journal pilot study found that 97 percent of participants joined a health-focused Facebook group for support, and 95 percent reported that having a support system positively impacted their care. In this way, Facebook’s preventive health innovations are contributing to a socio-medical shift toward holistic health.
Given Facebook’s newfound prominence in the healthcare community, medical marketers should consider ramping up their social media engagement efforts. Now that Facebook has preventive health features in addition to posting, messaging, video streaming, music, web television series like Red Table Talk, a marketplace, and more, prospective patients will be spending a lot of time on the platform. Medical marketers can seize this opportunity to curate more dynamic content that resonates with their target audience as well as invest in ads.
Facebook’s new preventive health capabilities are a win-win for everyone involved. Prospective patients get the assistance they need, Facebook’s medical partners gain a distribution approach that really works, and medical marketers can reach a wider audience.