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Connected Health » Web Resources » Doctors using Facebook as a clever diagnostic tool

Doctors using Facebook as a clever diagnostic tool

facebook-thumbYou may think Facebook is just all about ranting posts, boring updates and drunken photos from your “friends”, but it’s actually proving to be a clever diagnostic tool for doctors who are working with stroke victims.

As the average Facebook user has been tagged in a fair few photos, those in the medical profession are working to better understand what causes strokes and when they occur by browsing through them.

According to All Facebook, a doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota worked with a patient to look through her past Facebook photos in order to pinpoint when she may have had a stroke and even what could have caused it. Usually doctors compare physical photos, but given we’re all effectively creating huge online databases about ourselves in the form of our Facebook profiles it makes sense to use all of that content for medical purposes.

The case study referring to the use of Facebook raises some interesting questions about user privacy and whether personal content should be analysed:

“Facebook use has been increasing in healthcare over the last few years. There are several legal and ethical challenges in using social media such as Facebook in healthcare for accessing patient information. Social media was originally designed for social communications between family and friends. Use of social media in medicine is new, and the ethical issues related to an individual’s privacy have not been delineated so far.”

However, if it could help diagnose a serious problem and you’ve given your consent is there really any issue whatsoever? Maybe we’re all getting a bit too precious about our Facebook data…

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Facebook being used in unconventional ways to benefit the medical industry, earlier in the year there was a huge spike in people signing up to be organ donors when the social network introduced its new feature.

[Via All Facebook]

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