Facebook's head of health research on the role of social media in healthcare delivery

Though Facebook has not been as vocal as other tech giants about its forays into healthcare, Freddy Abnousi, MD, the social media platform's head of health research, recently discussed how Facebook's 15 years' worth of data can be used for innovation and analysis in healthcare.

Dr. Abnousi told STAT that Facebook's health initiatives "really focus on public health evidence-base-driven interventions and analyses." The company's biggest offerings in healthcare, he said, will come from "understanding social media variables in a way that are accessible."

He explained, "If you really want to make an impact on health outcomes, the literature shows that you should at least try to understand social and behavioral variables in a more actionable way."

According to Dr. Abnousi, Facebook allows healthcare providers to get to know patients more thoroughly than they might in a clinical setting. "It is super interesting to me that we have a way — 'we' being Americans — to connect and reach each other. And so I think that is an interesting way to think about the 'alternative clinic visit,' if you will," he said.

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