Facebook launches "Preventive Health" tool

WICHITA, Kan. - Facebook is stepping into healthcare. The social media giant just launched a new tool called "Preventive Health". Just like it notifies users of comments and messages, the company will send reminders to Facebook users to get routine exams, like blood pressure tests or mammograms.

Dr. Lynn Fisher at KU School of Medicine-Wichita says there are things to consider before scheduling an exam.

Dr. Fisher says Facebook only considers age and sex for those tests. Your primary care physician considers even more, like your health history, family history, weight and ethnicity.

Facebook partnered with organizations like the American Cancer Society and the Center for Disease Control. Dr. Fisher says organizations have suggestions for screenings, but doctors' recommendations are different. He says anytime Facebook recommends getting a test, bring it up to your doctor first.

"If it is a reputable organization like the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, their guidelines don't always correspond with the guidelines that your primary care doctor is using. If anything, it probably leads to screening more often than what might be necessary," Dr. Fisher says.

Although some people think testing more often may be better, Dr. Fisher says testing too much can have a negative side.

"Sometimes we over screen people and that can lead to false-positive findings, so that leads to more testing. That drives up costs of healthcare and also it causes a lot of anxiety for patients when they have to undergo testing that wasn't really intended for them," Dr. Fisher says.

He also warns that people should check with their insurance to see what screenings are covered.

"If it's recommending that you do a screening test at age 45, but your insurance won't start paying for it until age 50, then that might be a problem for you," he says.