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Facebook To Launch Healthcare Services

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Support communities and Facebook fitness apps among offerings rumoured to be on the way

As well as helping you connect with your family and friends, Facebook could soon be set to improve your way of life and keep you healthy.

According to reports today, the social network is developing online “support communities” which would bring together and connect Facebook users suffering from certain illnesses or ailments.

The site also reportedly has a team investigating “preventative care” applications that would help people improve their lifestyles, similar to many current activity tracking services, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The sources, which asked to be kept anonymous due to the ongoing nature of the developments, said that Facebook has been meeting with several medical industry experts and entrepreneurs over the last few months as it looks to get a clearer idea of the services it can provide.

The company will also be setting up a research and development unit to test new health apps, the sources said.

Facebook - Shutterstock - © Pan Xunbin / Shutterstock.comGiving something back

Facebook has dabbled in healthcare in the past, most notably in its “organ-donor status initiative,” introduced in 2012. This change, which allowed users to specify on their profile as to whether they were registered organ donors, led to a major spike in registrations, and won the site much praise for helping raise awareness for this critical initiative.

However, as with many Facebook activities, privacy may be an issue, with the company coming under on several occasions in the past regarding how it stores and deals with the data and information it holds on its customers.

In order to combat this, the social network is considering rolling out its first health application quietly and under a different name, Reuters says, meaning it may avoid any initial opposition.

The health technology industry has enjoyed somewhat of a takeoff in recent months, as manufacturers and developers look to interrelate their offerings with fitness-conscious consumers.

Most notably, Apple recently launched its HealthKit app, offering many of the functions of high-street fitness trackers, giving users the ability to trace their activities and calories burned.

Google also launched a health initiative, called Google Health, in June, aiming to get developers to use its Android software to create new health and fitness apps.

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