Facebook and PHI storage: A bad idea

Could Facebook succeed as a platform for personal health record storage? Not likely, says Healthcare Technology Online's Ken Congdon, who cites the company's business model and its infamous privacy policy problems as reasons why healthcare providers shouldn't even consider the thought.

Facebook's recent IPO means that the company now has a lot more incentive to use the personal data it has collected on its 900 million-plus users, Congdon says. He writes that, were the company to get into the protected health information business, it could decide to offer that information to pharmaceutical companies looking to market specific drugs to specific patients.

"What financial incentive would Facebook have to keep provider and patient interests at heart?" he says.

Congdon continues that the company's track record of playing fast and loose with its customers' personal information at present wouldn't bode well for such a venture, either.

"The company has been infamous for putting user profile information up for grabs on Google, exposing 'friends' lists, and publicizing live chats," he writes. Facebook also recently admitted to tracking its members and watching the web pages they visited, even after logging off the site, Congdon points out.

"Does this sound like a company you want anywhere near your [personal health information]?" he says.

Congdon, who says his post stemmed from a recent "Tweet Chat" on social media and health IT, isn't the first to speak unfavorably about the combination of healthcare and social media. Family physician Dike Drummond recently wrote that social media use by physicians is tougher than it seems, and not something that should be considered mandatory, as some in the industry have alluded to.

To learn more:
- read Congdon's post