Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Healthcare Implications for Facebook’s New “Graph Search” Functionality

From the 16th January 2013 Pixels&Pills article by @Spitz

Why “Graph Search”?

Analogous to Google the search king trying to enter the social space with Google Plus, Facebook the social queen is now trying to capture the search space with Graph Search. The Holy Grail is actually neither search nor social per se, but increased digital user engagement that ultimately translates to higher revenue for these providers.

What is “Graph Search”?

Before we can talk about implications, we need to understand what it does. Since beta isn’t released as of this posting, all we can go by is what Zuck shared during his presentation of the functionality. Specifically, a blue bar will run across the top with an entry field. Instead of typing in simple keywords, the expectation will be to type in whole questions regarding friends and friend preferences—more like Wolfram Alpha than Google.

For example, a user would type in “Do I have any friends renting apartments in Chicago?” or “Did any of my friends see LIFE OF PI yet?” or “What do my friends think about Muir Woods in San Francisco?” Graph Search will then analyze the mountains of interconnected and tagged data throughout the user’s own network, and produce responses that, according to Zuckerberg, aren’t links, but informative pieces of content in the form of posts, pics, movies, and the like. Search results will mostly likely be sharable with friends, since why not, that’s what Facebook does best….

What does “Graph Search” mean for Health and Healthcare?

Ah, now here’s the rub. If you’ve been following this harangue so far, then yellow and red digital health lights should already be flashing. Not much imagination is required to wonder what will happen when a user types in, for example “What do my friends think about HIV?” or “Do any of my friends have erectile dysfunction?” or “Have any of my friends had a bad reaction to taking Drug X?” “What do you think about Dr. Y?” “How was your stay at hospital Z?” If you’re a pharmaceutical or medical device manufacturer regulatory attorney, or a hospital admin, or even a patient who wants to keep things very personal, I bet you’re experiencing a mild myocardial by now…

Facebook stressed that Graph Search will only access individual friend content and public domain data through Bing. But from a healthcare point of view, that doesn’t help much at all. The reason is that in digital what’s being shared is sometimes secondary to how it’s shared…

So what should you, as a digital health expert, do?
If you’re a pharma or device marketer with content already on Facebook, double-check compliance, and get comfortable with bits and pieces potentially becoming aggregated outside the context of where they appear. (Red flags for fair balance information, obviously.) If you’re a hospital or private practice physician, be mindful that having patient FB friends might mean that your interactions could become more readily accessible to your patient’s entire friend network. The open door is now spinning wildly, further reinforcing the maxim that you should only post on Facebook (and any social channel) that which you are perfectly comfortable indiscriminately sharing with the world.


Read the entire article here



January 18, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , | Leave a comment


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