Why Facebook is implementing slow Internet Tuesdays, and what healthcare can learn from it

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On Tuesdays, Facebook employees will soon be able to experience what using Facebook is like for people in other countries where connectivity isn't as strong as it is in the United States. The social media platform is launching "2G Tuesdays" to highlight and close the "empathy gap" between Silicon Valley and markets like those in India and Africa where many people use 2G connections, according to Business Insider.

Millions of people around the world are still using 2G connections to access the Internet, while most smartphone users in the United States are using 3G or 4G, according to the report.

Engineering teams at Facebook work on the social media platform's News Feed to optimize it for 2G connections. Part of their research includes using phones that use 2G connections and traveling to countries where 2G is prominent to better understand how people there use Facebook. However, not all employees are able to go on such trips, so 2G Tuesdays are a way for them to experience these slower connections, according to the report.

Employees who log in to Facebook on Tuesday morning will be asked if they want to try using the slower connection for one hour. "For that next hour, their experience on Facebook will be very much like the experience that millions of people around the world have on Facebook on a 2G connection," Tom Alison, Facebook's director of engineering, told Business Insider.

By being immersing directly into the consumer experience side, Facebook is getting to learn and understand its product from a different point of view — the point of view of its users from around the world with different needs and resources. For those in healthcare, the situation sounds an awful lot similar to questions of usability and access for patients and their patient portals.

Vendors are criticized for developing systems and platforms that are difficult to use and don't meet users' needs. Or, perhaps vendors develop a platform that just doesn't operate in actuality like they had designed it to.

Using products at the consumer-facing level could help identify lingering problem areas, but also demonstrate improvements in the product, which is the case with Facebook's 2G Tuesdays. "[Employees are] going to see the places that we need to improve our product, but they're also going to see the places where we have made a lot of progress," Mr. Alison said.

More articles on health IT:

Mercy: Designing the nation's first virtual care center
To prep for Epic, Mayo Clinic to build $6.1M electronic substation
11 most innovative companies, according to the C-suite

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