Facebook connects users to clinics for flu shots and other preventive services

Facebook rolled out a new healthcare feature Oct. 28 that allows users to find nearby physicians and clinics as well as set reminders for appointments, according to Bloomberg.

The social media giant will use a person's age and gender to provide preventive healthcare information. All through Facebook, users have the option to locate a medical center, set reminders for appointments and mark them "done" after the completed visit.

Through the new tool, called Preventive Health, Facebook will also proactively suggest users get flu shots during flu season, according to CNBC. Facebook will then direct users to nearby locations that offer flu shots, including grocery stores and pharmacies.

For users that have their location services turned on, Facebook will direct them to federally qualified health centers nearby. If location services have been turned off, Facebook will show clinics in a user's current identified city. The tool does not track if a patient followed through with an appointment or which clinic a user visited. 

Facebook will not ask for any other information beyond age and gender. The information collected will be not be used to target users with ads, Facebook's head of healthcare research Freddy Abnousi, MD, told Bloomberg. Only personnel with permission will be able to access the data collected.

Additionally, Facebook will provide education materials from its healthcare organization partners, including the American College of Cardiology, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and CDC.

Editor's note: This article was updated Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. to indicate that Facebook does not collect any user data beyond age and gender as well as further details about location tracking.  

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