Facebook's New Venture: Health Care?

Reuters says company looking to expand in a big way on that front
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2014 2:20 PM CDT
Facebook's New Venture: Health Care?
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

Mark Zuckerberg and Co. apparently want to address every human need possible: Facebook is said to be venturing into the health care arena, Reuters reports. Initial possibilities include the creation of "support communities" to sync up people who want to talk about their particular ailments, as well as "preventative care" apps to help users lead healthier lives, but plenty of other opportunities exist. (Remember Facebook's organ-donation push?) The concept is in the exploratory stage at this point, with Facebook employees putting R&D into place and consulting with medical experts to see if the idea holds water, say sources who spoke to Reuters; there's been no official comment yet from Facebook.

Rumblings about Facebook's interest in health care center around the idea that users with a particular illness or condition would come to the site to find others with whom they can commiserate, share advice, and lend emotional support. People who already document every ache and pain in their status updates might not be anxious about oversharing, and the phenomenon of this year's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge seems to indicate users are interested in health-related issues, even peripherally. But others may be leery at posting this kind of personal info on a site that's been accused of not keeping privacy paramount and harboring a Big Brother mentality. "I could see Facebook doing well with applications for lifestyle and wellness, but really sick patients with conditions like cancer aren't fooling around," the chief executive for a health systems software company tells Reuters. (More Facebook stories.)

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