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Facebook’s new tool will remind users to get health screenings

Preventative screenings can be key to combating serious health concerns. However, remembering to go in for cancer screenings, checking on your heart health or even getting a flu shot can sometimes fall off the radar of everyday life.

Well, there's a new tool to help remind folks to get those types of tests and screenings. It's not from your health insurance company or doctor's office. Instead, the feature is the latest roll out from Facebook.

The tech giant announced that the tool, aptly called Preventative Health, will make recommendations based on users' age and sex.

"The majority problem that we're trying to solve is making sure that people have this information in their hand in a way that's consumer friendly," Dr. Freddy Abnousi, head of health care research for Facebook, told CNN.

The tool, which is currently only available in the United States, was developed in partnership with the American Cancer Society, American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Richard Wender, with the Atlanta-based American Cancer Society, said he hopes the tool leads to more preventative measures.

"One of the main reasons people don't get screened for cancer is that they don't realize their own risk. We hope this program will help by building awareness about important recommendations from expert organizations," Wender said in a statement.

According to Facebook, the tool is meant to help users:

– Know which screenings and checkups are recommended based on age and sex

– Track appointments and set reminders of when to set future checkups

– Find affordable health care providers

– Share your information with family and friends

In a post on the platform, Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg shared a personal story about the sudden death of her husband, Dave, and added that she hopes the tool helps "people stay healthy – and saves lives."

"Check-ups and preventive health screenings are critical – but it's easy to put them off or not know where to go. That's why Facebook is launching Preventive Health. It's a new, private way to get health information and reminders on Facebook from leading health organizations," Sandberg wrote in the post.

According to the company, Facebook uses tools such as Federally Qualified Health Centers and HealthMap Vaccine to locate nearby providers, based on the data from location services on users' phones. If location services aren't enabled, the information is pulled from a user's primary location on a user's Facebook profile.

The tool is Facebook's latest foray into the health field. Earlier this summer, the company introduced a tool that helps users find where they can donate blood in their area.

Facebook has also started to demote pages that spread misinformation about vaccines, after they faced widespread criticism for what was being shared on the platform.

According to Facebook's Abnousi, the company will examine the usefulness of the Preventative Health tool over the next several months, then consider expanding it to other countries.

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