What the Facebook Papers Say About Obtaining Health Information
WHEN THE WEB TRANSMITS THE MD: It wasn’t long ago that doctors were almost the only source of medical information. A diagnosis was the last word, second opinions were frowned upon, and subtle biases seeped into decision-making.
The treasure trove of documents collected by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen shows how far the pendulum has swung away from doctors – and how the social media giant has become a center for medical advice that often drowns out public health experts.
Patients now flock to groups to discuss their treatment, browse resources to find the best treatment, and even share tips on how to hack medical devices. And users who question the safety of Covid-19 vaccines and promote supposed wonder drugs like ivermectin can dominate and shape public health debates.
Internal research found vaccine hesitation was widespread, sometimes accounting for 40 percent of all comments by Haugen’s lawyer. A consortium of news organizations, including POLITICO, received the edited versions that Congress received.
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Anti-Vax content was also distributed Institutions trying to promote accurate information show the documents, making Facebook initiatives like providing free advertisements promoting Covid recordings difficult.
The situation is “a major concern,” says Bob Wachter, professor and chair of the medical school at the University of California at San Francisco, who described social media as a “megaphone for misinformation.” Other former enthusiasts for the democratized, digital patient share Wachter’s concern.
Much of the focus is on the website’s newsfeed algorithm, which can send people looking for healthy recipes … on anorexia content, Haugen told the UK Parliament on Monday.
The algorithm ranks content based on how current and popular it is, along with other criteria such as the topic and relationship with the user. While the site has taken steps to discourage pandemic falsehoods, conspiracy theories, fake scientific information, and links to online scams about Covid-19 continue to proliferate and freeze public health groups.
“[A]Authoritative health actors like UNICEF and WHO are not going to use the free ad spend we give them to promote vaccine content because they don’t want to encourage the anti-vaccine commentators warming up their pages, “it said in a memo.
Facebook declined to say how much advertising the institutions ended up using. And despite the flurry of anti-vaxxing comments, UNICEF decided to keep posting vaccine advocate content, a staff member told the Wall Street Journal.
Playing around with the algorithm might as well strengthen basic public health practices and increase self-reported social distancing. Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told Future Pulse the company had used its resources to cut vaccine hesitation in half, eliminate Covid misinformation, and connect users with reliable information.
Facebook and other tech companies are also driving new types of research: the company has joined forces with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland to survey users about the pandemic.
This decentralization of health care, with its deluge of news and other noise, is reminiscent of a 2016 report by the National Academy of Medicine on the shift towards a more democratic era in health care.
“How can we make people less confused?” The report asked, saying that about 20 percent of the population would not actively participate or enter data for this reason. The Facebook papers suggest the question is still up in the air.
Laura Lippmann @LauraMLippman “Here I sit across from my own face waiting for a telemedicine appointment retrospectively angry at people who have insisted my hair be chin length all these years and also wondering if anyone the final version of the Revlon Hot has written air brush. “
COMPLETE THE CIRCLE: People with diabetes do not enjoy tracking their fluctuating blood sugar levels and regulating them with insulin injections. But a new class of products – so-called closed-loop – uses software and gadgets to automate these pressures and promises to alleviate them. A study from Australia published in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that it is not only convenient but also improves care.
The researchers examined 135 teenagers with type 1 diabetes using either a closed-loop system or more conventional monitoring with insulin infusions or injections, and found a six point increase in the number of closed-loop patients “in the range” of the target glucose levels. This cohort also experienced a gain in quality of life.
In the USA, so-called artificial pancreases have been available since 2016, which wirelessly connect an insulin pump to a glucose monitor. The new technology adds artificial intelligent algorithms to take into account a patient’s medical history and recommend specific amounts of insulin.
“We found that the stress levels were reduced,” said Tim Jones, a researcher at Perth Children’s Hospital. “Someone with diabetes has to make 180 decisions a day – every time I eat something, do something, I have to adapt. It’s a difficult thing. ”
Newer technologies could be even better. The study looked at relatively old closed-loop systems – independent hackers and large medical technology companies are constantly trying to improve the product. “Technology moves fast,” said Jones.
EQUITY BEYOND GADGETS: The drive for more digital health tools can reduce health inequalities, but only with proactive contact with marginalized communities, wrote three professors from the University of California, San Francisco, in a JAMA viewpoint piece.
The authors argued that during the development phase, solution developers must consider potential equity issues and the specific needs of patients who require health-related safety net services. They also found that many digital tools for chronic disease in underserved groups have not been evaluated.
Most of the digital health tools available are in English only and are written for people with a reading level above 12th grade, the authors wrote.
“The healthcare system is on the threshold of a digital transformation that could impair or improve equity in health,” the authors write. “To improve equity, scalable solutions have to be developed that get the design right from the start.”
VAX passes OPTIONAL: The Biden administration plans on Nov. 8 to lift an entry ban on vaccinated international travelers to the US without setting a federal standard for a digital verification system.
POLITICO’s Ben Leonard writes that the White House did not mention in a datasheet digital IDs, commonly referred to as vaccine passports, which have become a focal point in debates about reopening public spaces and workplaces.
Fully vaccinated individuals must have a negative Covid-19 test within three days of boarding a plane. The airlines are tasked with collecting and reviewing passengers’ records prior to their respective flights.
Proponents of a standardized system for verifying vaccines have pointed out the need for verification systems like the SMART Health Card, which five states have put in place.
The government has repeatedly said that the federal government will not issue vaccination card standards or keep the data, leaving the politically sensitive issue to the private sector. However, experts warn that this could lead to a confusing patchwork of verification systems that may be unreliable or not equipped to communicate with one another. To make matters worse, there is no national vaccination database, let alone an international one.
FURTHER TELEHEALTH DEADLINE: A coalition of more than 70 companies, including Amazon, Americans for Prosperity, and the American Telemedicine Association, are calling on congressional leaders to uphold a policy that allows certain high-deductible health plans to offer telemedicine before patients hit deductibles.
The letter, convened by the Alliance for Connected Care, comes with the stipulation threatened to expire at the end of the year, unlike many other telemedicine flexibilities that went into public health until the end of the Covid-19 public health emergency Stay strong. The policy affects 35 million Americans, according to the groups.
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