Facebook’s health research head says doctors should have more patient data


Facebook’s head of health research has reportedly said he believes doctors should have access to even more data about patients, including information about their social lives.

Freddy Abnousi called for more access to data on patients’ social and behavioural characteristics, though he did not specifically mention Facebook data, CNBC has reported.

Abnousi told delegates at a US conference that researchers have evidence suggesting a person’s social life impacts their health more than almost any other major risk factor.

But Abnousi argued that such data is not easily available.

Speaking at the Manova Summit earlier this month, he said: “The primary driver of health outcomes in the United States are social and behavioural variables.

“Really understanding what these social determinants of health are should be our primary area of focus.”

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social and behavioural factors include person’s housing situation, network of friends, marital status, spirituality and type of employment.

Abnousi said some studies have revealed such factors can have a bigger impact on whether a person survives a massive heart attack than their genetics.

According to CNBC, Abnousi led Facebook’s now closed research project which involved approaching medical institutions to find out whether they would be willing to share anonymised patient data.

Digital Health News reported in April 2018 that Facebook had put the brakes on the project in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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