Are you one of the 800-million-plus users active on Facebook right now? Probably.

Do you work in healthcare? Did you keep up with news from the social network’s F8 conference yesterday? Possibly.

New Facebook Features Give New Opportunities for Social Healthcare

Think Andy Samberg from Saturday Night Live bears more than a passing resemblance to Mark Zuckerberg? Zuckerberg sure does.

The “Bergs” aside, a number of new features were announced at yesterday’s presentation that has Facebook fanboys drooling, and those of us who only glance at it from time to time – myself included –  wondering how in the world we’ll get used to the new bells and whistles.

Mashable pulled together a nice synopsis of the most notable features. I’ve highlighted the three I think will have the biggest impact on healthcare.

1. A Timeline – a scrapbook of your life – will eventually replace your profile page.

According to Mashable, “This is a stream of information about you — the photos you’ve posted, all your status updates, the apps you’ve used, even the places you’ve visited on a world map — that scrolls all the way back to your birth. It encourages you to post more stuff about your past, such as baby pictures, using Facebook as a scrapbook.”

Implications for Healthcare:

Information about you starting from birth? It sounds like a great platform from which to develop or at least integrate some type of new Personal Health Record. If developers can find a way to aggregate personal data in such a way that a Facebook user doesn’t have to input it themselves, that could create a new, more user-friendly PHR – one that people might actually use, and that could ultimately talk nicely with Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Imagine if even a fraction of Facebook users were engaged in some sort of PHR? The implications for improving healthcare outcomes would be huge. I realize there are HIPAA concerns around ideas like this, but the healthcare IT community is filled with creative folks whom I sure can tackle this challenge.

John Gomez of Eclipsys/Allscripts fame, makes a good point about this in a recent HISTalk interview: “Why can’t I integrate Facebook with my PHR? Why can’t a doctor send updates to his patient on Facebook via an EHR? Not PHI related, but general tips to his patient base, like, “Check your immunizations as we head into cold and flu season” or “I will be on vacation through the end of the month, for an emergency, contact…”

The new Timeline feature will not only provide mounds of data for new health recording but will better enable the sharing of this data between patients and providers. Which leads me to #2:

2. Go beyond “Like” with Facebook Gestures.

You’ll soon have the option to turn any verb into a button, enabling you to share just about any action you write about on Facebook. (Too much information? More than likely.)

Implications for Healthcare:

Again, it’s all about sharing content. Providers and patients – i.e. EVERYONE – will now be able to share information with the click of a button about their healthcare concerns. I see this taking off especially in the mobile space. A doctor can share educational videos with the patient on his handy iPad, communicating in a way (on Facebook) that patients are probably already very comfortable with.

With more than 65% of physicians currently using social networks to support their practices, according to a recent study from QuantiaMD and Care Continuum Alliance, the ability to share even more information will lead to more closely connected, and hopefully better informed, provider and patient communities.

3. Watch TV and movies, listen to music, and read and share news on Facebook.

Partners like Hulu, Spotify, Yahoo! News and the love it or hate it Netflix will all now provide accessible content within Facebook so you never have to leave the site.

Implications for Healthcare:

With more than 800,000 users active on Facebook, they’ll have even less reason to leave the site when it comes to searching for additional content on the Web. The social network will become THE place to be as far as third-party platforms and integrations go. I wonder how long until WebMD joins the party? Or until physicians and hospitals soon put more resources into their Facebook pages than they do their own websites? For that matter, perhaps healthcare vendors should reassess the value of Facebook ads.

Yes, Facebook could go under, or at least experience technical difficulties from time to time, but I think healthcare (which is slowly getting used to the cloud, anyhow) will soon realize that the site is one of the best places on the Web to be right now. And as anyone in healthcare knows, it’s all about successfully adapting to change, and Facebook is no stranger to that.

MTM Features Give New Opportunities for Social Healthcare

Article Source: New Facebook Features Offer New Opportunities for Social Healthcare.

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