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It is no secret that Facebook is attempting to expand into the healthcare marketplace. As of July 2018, the company was worth over $629 billion, so it certainly has the financial capability. Yet, recent events over the past few months are creating challenges for Facebook’s continued expansion in the healthcare industry.

Scandals, Breaches and Instagram.

Facebook is still dealing with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In March 2018, it was reveled that Facebook improperly shared 87 million user’s private information with the political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica.

Accusations that digital consultants for political campaigns misused the data of millions of Facebook users, which violated FCC rules, is still unfolding. But whatever conclusion is reached in the investigation, Facebook has been put on defensive. They have likely not able to focus on healthcare to the extent that they had originally planned.

If Facebook’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica was not enough, they suffered a massive data breach last year. In September, Facebook was forced to notified users that there had been a massive data breach. This breach affected over 50 million people. In recent years there have been a number of high-profile data breaches.

For example, the credit bureau Equifax suffered a data breach in 2017 which exposed the personal information of roughly 143 million Americans. However, the fact that it was the social media giant Facebook does not portray the company in a positive light.

In 2012, Facebook bought the social media platform Instagram for a price of $1 billion. As of late 2018, Instagram represents about 14 percent of Facebook’s overall online ad revenue. The purchase of the popular photo-sharing application, gave Facebook better capabilities to offer services on mobile devices. This was an area that the company felt it could improve upon.

However, in September 2018, the original founders of Instagram who stayed with the company after it was the purchase, abruptly decided to resign. Both the Kevin Systrom, CEO and Mike Krieger, CTO decided to step down from their positions as the heads of Instagram. They stated that they were stepping down in order “to explore curiosity and creativity again.” Losing the original developers of the popular photo sharing platform is yet another distraction from Facebook’s healthcare-related pursuits.

Billing issues with Zuckerberg hospital:

Facebook is quickly learning the finer details about credentialing and in-network versus out-of-network status. Earlier this year, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital was encouraged to reduce a patient’s bicycle crash bill from $20,243 to $200. Observers argue that the bill was only reduced to the negative national attention that was placed on the hospital. The hospital is out of network with all private health plans, which means that ER services use a policy of balance billing which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

If Facebook wishes to cultivate goodwill as they expand into healthcare, they should develop in-network contracts with private payers at this hospital. In response to this issue, the hospital has temporarily halted balance billing for 90 days as it finalizes a long-term plan to address billing problems.

However, San Francisco health officials recently announce that they are considering a cap on out-of-pocket payments for privately insured patients receiving emergency services at the hospital. In addition, California lawmakers are now considering introducing a bill that would end surprise, excessive emergency room bills.

Facebook is able to access sensitive healthcare data:

It was recently reported that various mobile device apps have been sharing sensitive health data with the social media giant. This sharing of data was done without the consent of the users. A Wall Street Journal investigation revealed that many of these apps actually track sensitive information such as when the user is ovulating. This data is sent to Facebook, unbeknownst to the people using these apps.

In response to this discovery, some app companies have voluntarily restricted transmissions to social media platform. Facebook has contacted some larger advertisers and app developers in order to inform them the company prohibits partners from sending any sensitive user information to Facebook.

As with the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the 2018 data breach, Facebook is displaying a less-than ideal track record of data security and integrity. As the company moves in the healthcare arena, this is not the reputation that they want to project.

Conclusion:

Recently the tech company has faced challenges from the data scandals and breaches to losing skilled employees and questionable hospital billing practices. But, Facebook is a successful, large and resilient company. They will likely overcome these obstacles, but delivering healthcare services is something new for them. The company is making strides.

In 2017, Facebook held a summit for pharmaceutical companies. At the inaugural Facebook Health Summit, the social media giant explained how it’s service were uniquely aligned to address the specific needs of this industry.

As Facebook expands into the world of healthcare, there will likely be other obstacles and challenges for the tech giant. However, other tech giants like Uber, Apple, Google and Amazon are facing the same challenges. It is clear though that all of these companies plan to disrupt and change healthcare. What this will look like, only time will tell.

About ABCS RCM:

We are an Ohio-based company that provides experienced revenue cycle management services for a variety of medical specialties. In addition, we offer workforce management tools for human service agencies, web design and accounts management services for Medicaid waiver providers/I-DD agencies. For additional questions about this topic or medical billing in general, please contact the staff at ABCS RCM.

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