Snapchat Is Ready to Disrupt the Health Care Conversation

Snapchat logoSnapchat, the popular social website, is ready to test its reach in health care. The company will launch a new set of tools and custom content centered around mental health and wellness.

The new feature, Here For You, provides in-app support for those who may be experiencing a behavioral health or emotional crisis. Here For You also will show safety resources from local experts when users search for topics like anxiety, depression, stress, grief, suicidal thoughts and bullying.

Snapchat’s move is significant because it’s the site’s first move in a broader health and wellness push that will be rolled out in the next few months, Axios reports. It’s also another in a growing list of online social platforms trying to better understand consumers’ behaviors so they can help respond to their health care needs.

In October, Facebook further expanded its public health messaging efforts by launching the Preventive Health tool. It targets U.S. users with a list of recommended preventive tests or checkups, sets scheduling reminders and connects users to local providers of those services — all based on two data points, the user’s age and sex.

Pinterest last summer debuted emotional wellness activities tailored to the millions of users searching the visual pinboard for emotional health-related topics. Resources, intended for users to complete when they are feeling anxious, sad or stressed, include deep-breathing and self-compassion exercises.

Such efforts are generally seen as positive steps for helping consumers to achieve better health. But there’s an underlying business strategy to these programs as well. For instance, while Facebook noted in a recent blog post that information obtained through Preventive Health is never shared or sold to third parties, there is one big exception: If users like a specific doctor, drug or hospital, those data are added to the company’s ad-targeting system.

This gives Facebook powerful leverage as it continues to grow its ad base and deepens its understanding of consumer behaviors in how, when and where they seek health care services. And with the social platform now such a ubiquitous part of consumers’ lives, many patients may continue to embrace Facebook’s expansion into health care as a simple matter of convenience.

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