Why you could - but shouldn't - use Facebook to coordinate care

Having recently run across an endocrinologist who tells other physicians on Facebook when he refers a patient to them, I was intrigued by veteran consultant Vince Kuraitis' post on The Healthcare Blog about whether Facebook could be used as a platform for care coordination. He thinks not, but how he gets to that point is worth summarizing.

First, Kuraitis notes that Facebook already has a global user base of 650 million people and offers a variety of online tools for one-on-one and group interactions. Technology is not the limiting factor in utilizing Facebook for care coordination, he explains: building more servers to handle the extra volume, designing specialized healthcare applications, and identifying and connecting the members of a patient's care team are all do-able from a technical point of view. But in today's non-system of healthcare, he adds, getting those folks to work together remains a big challenge--regardless of Facebook.

An even bigger problem, Kuraitis says, is the Facebook "DNA." In the Mark Zuckerberg worldview, individuals should be able to handle all their personal and business communications on his ubiquitous platform. But that doesn't necessarily apply to healthcare, one of the few areas where most people still consider privacy desirable. Unfortunately, Kuraitis notes, "Facebook has a reputation for pushing privacy boundaries, and then falling back only if/when people complain [and they must complain loudly]." This is not only a matter of people you know seeing your personal health information; it may be sold to marketers unless you opt out.

Kuraitis offers several alternatives, including EHR vendors or accountable care organizations creating the care coordination platform. I don't think any of these entities will be the sole vehicle for this vital function, for one simple reason: People's need for healthcare goes beyond proprietary platforms that may not be interoperable. But Kuraitis raises some good points.

To learn more:
- read Kuraitis' post on The Healthcare Blog 

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