Facebook is Reportedly Working on its Own Healthcare Service

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Facebook already knows the most intricate of details about your life—but now it has plans to monitor your health as well, according to Reuters.

The newswire reports that Facebook, not far behind Google and Apple, has started working on its own take on digital healthcare. Three people "familiar with the matter" claim that Zuckerberg & Co. are developing online "support communities" – a series of sub-networks that would bring together Facebook users suffering from various health issues.

The newswire ads that another small team at Facebook is also working on "preventative care" applications. The ideas here, we guess, is using software to help people improve their lifestyles—but that's a very broad idea, and it remains unclear exactly what form such apps would take.

But if Reuters sources are to be believed, it's certainly taking the notion seriously. The report explains that the social network has been holding numerous meetings with "medical industry experts and entrepreneurs" and that it's setting up a specific R&D network to test its new health services.

It's not the first time Facebook has dabbled with healthcare: back in 2012, it made organ donation social, for instance. But in the past it's always been a conduit for other existing services; this news could, if it's true, see Facebook take a leading role.

As ever, privacy is a concern. Reuters claims that the social network is aware of the concerns and is "considering rolling out its first health application quietly and under a different name." Whether that's sneaky or sensible (or, for that matter, even accurate) remains to be seen. But regardless of this report's veracity, given the recent swell in consumer-focused healthcare technology, you can bet Facebook can't be too far behind the pack. [Reuters]

Image by West McGowan under Creative Commons license