The evolution of Facebook: implications for social health

The Telegraph’s recent retrospective on Facebook and its evolution from 2004’s ‘Thefacebook’ of Harvard University students to the Facebook that many of us use now, with Chat, timeline and a converged mobile and desktop design, led reader Mike Clark to drop Editor Charles a line about how healthcare isn’t maximizing social media and internet-based innovation. Recent studies have indicated that these social patient communities benefit their members. Agreed, but there are increasing qualifications–and qualms.

Back in 2014, Facebook made some noises on forming its own online health communities, a move that was widely derided as Facebook monetizing yet another slice of personal (health) data from users. While Charles has made the excellent point that “almost all good health apps are essentially the tailored interface to an internet service that sits behind it, a fact often forgotten by commentators”, Editor Donna on her side of the Atlantic has seen concerns mount on privacy, security and the stealthy commercialization/monetization of many popular online patient support groups (OSGs) which Carolyn Thomas (‘The Heart Sister’) skewers here, excepting those with solid non-profit firewalling (academic, government, clinical). Example she gives: Patients Like Me, which markets health data gathered from members to companies developing products to sell to patients. How many members, with a disease or chronic condition on their mind, will browse through to this page that says in part: “Except for the restricted personal information you entered when registering for the site, you should expect that every piece of information you submit (even if it is not currently displayed) may be shared with our partners and any member of PatientsLikeMe, including other patients.”

We’ve also noted that genomics data may not be sufficiently de-identified so that it can’t be matched through inference [TTA 31 Oct 15], with the potential for sale. And of course Hackermania Running Wild continues (see here).

For now general information sites like WebMD and personalized reference sites such as Medivisor feel more secure to users, as well as small non-commercialized OSGs and ‘closed’ telehealth/telemedicine systems.

Pharma company ‘breaks the Internet’ with Kim K, gets FDA testy

But it may break them…well, give them a fracture. Or a good hard marketing lesson. Specialty pharma Duchesnay thought it had hit the jackpot with negotiating a promotional spokeswoman endorsement from pregnant celebrity Kim Kardashian of its morning sickness drug Diclegis. The Kardashian Marketing Machine cranked up. Kim (and mom Kris Jenner) took to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in late July with (scripted) singing of Diclegis’ praises to their tens of millions of followers. The Instagram posts linked to an ‘important safety page’ a/k/a The Disclaimers. That wasn’t near enough for the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) which governs the acceptable marketing of all drugs in the US. On August 7th a tartly worded letter arrived at Duchesnay’s Pennsylvania HQ cited multiple violations of marketing regulations, notably risk information, and told Duchesnay to cease these communications immediately or withdraw the drug, which would be highly unlikely as it is successful. They also were require to provide “corrective messages” to the “violative materials”.

Our takeaway:

* Duchesnay reaped a bounty of free media (see below), on top of the (undoubtedly expensive) Kardashian endorsement. Yes, they did pay the cost of a FDA nastygram and a legal response, and the warning will live on in their file. However, a lot of target-age women now know Diclegis and others know about the relatively obscure Duchesnay.

* This was a calculated marketing risk that tested the boundaries of social media and celebrity endorsement. (more…)

Audax Health raises $20 million

Breaking News

One very substantial bet was placed today on consumer engagement, with CE/mobile/social media-for-wellness developer Audax Health announcing a $20 million Series B funding this afternoon. Navigy Holdings, Inc. a wholly-owned subsidiary of Florida Blue (Blue Cross Blue Shield, Florida’s largest health plan) led the round, which included current board member Jack Rowe (former CEO and chairman of Aetna) and Dan Rose, VP of partnerships at Facebook. Audax’s main product is Zensey, a mobile-based platform for personalized health content, connection with like minds via online communities, challenges, health assessments and games. The funds reportedly will be used for product development, build out the company’s mobile and engineering teams and expand partnerships with health plans, employers and providers. Previous funding has exceeded $35 million since its 2010 founding ($21 million this past January alone). Corporate partners include Cigna and Cardinal Health, with New Leaf Ventures their leading VC.  Press release via Yahoo Finance; Gigaom; Washington Business Journal.  Hat tip to reader David E. Albert, MD of AliveCor via Twitter (@DrDave01) 

Nurses using social media for health tech collaboration

Interesting article and longish (26:04) video on how nurses are using Google Hangout for collaboration, especially on using technology as part of their practice and getting involved in tech development. The four onscreen are located in Canada, Australia and Hawaii. The author is herself an RN and health care advisor for the US Strategic Perspective Institute, a think tank whose main job is advocating ‘saving jobs’, a Sisyphean task if there ever was one. (Don’t bother to look at the healthcare blog–the last entry there was 2010.)  This is from ZDNetNurses use Google Hangouts to collaborate on technology