DHHS Looks to Social Media for Warning Signals
Posted 22 March 2012 | By
A new US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) initiative is looking to use social media tools-specifically the micro-blogging website Twitter-to provide the agency with advanced signals to help identify public health emergencies.
In a 20 March press release, DHHS said it is looking for developers to create tools that look at real-time data on public health issues, with a particular focus on illnesses.
The agency hopes to develop a tool that will be "useful as part of the surveillance systems in place now to identify new diseases early."
"With early identification, health officials can respond quickly, including advising people how to protect their health and minimize the spread of the disease," said DHHS in a statement. "Minimizing the spread of disease could help the community bounce back quickly from an outbreak or a public health emergency-or potentially prevent a public health emergency, such as a pandemic, from occurring."
The tool could have broader applications, particularly for detecting adverse event signals in healthcare products. DHHS noted it is looking to build a program that is scalable and able to automatically deliver results associated with a particular location or disease-something that might also include a particular drug or medical device in the future.
Fierce Health IT - HHS looks to Twitter to track health trends