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When you think about tech giants playing in healthcare, you think of Google, and the work Verily is doing; you think of Apple, and their HealthKit and ResearchKit applications, as well as their rumored plans to organize all your medical data on your iPhone; you may even think of Amazon, and their potential entry into the pharmacy market.
But the name you may hear about least – Facebook – may actually be the company influencing healthcare the most, and may also be the best positioned to support the patient-centered future that so many imagine, and that Eric Topol described in The Patient Will See You Now.
But while participating on a panel at a recent Festival of Genomics meeting in San Diego, I learned that apparently, Facebook is where patients with rare conditions, and their families, often go to connect with others in similar situations – typically via private groups. Apparently, these can be extremely specific – the example the panelist cited was childhood epilepsy due to one or another individual genetic mutation. Families reportedly self-organize into private groups based on the specific mutation, and share experiences and learnings.
If we truly believe what many profess — that the center of power in healthcare will relocate from physician to patient, what better platform for health than a digital community already integrated into the lives of a huge number of patients.
Facebook, at its core, is about cultivating relationships — in marked distinction to the transactional core of Google (search) and Amazon (deliver). The core mission of Facebook is to connect people – and to help good things emerge from these connections. What better forum than Facebook to bring patients together — and what better platform for health?