Peer into the future with "social sickness tracking." From Fast Company:
"The most obvious manifestation of social sickness tracking can be seen with Sickweather, a new startup that mines data from Twitter, Facebook, and user input to show which illnesses are going around in your local area--and in your friend group. The service explains, "just as Doppler radar scans the skies for indicators of bad weather, Sickweather scans social networks for indicators of illness."Google's Flu Trends was probably the first resource built on the idea that certain search terms are good indicators of disease activity. Says Google,
"We have found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Of course, not every person who searches for "flu" is actually sick, but a pattern emerges when all the flu-related search queries are added together. We compared our query counts with traditional flu surveillance systems and found that many search queries tend to be popular exactly when flu season is happening. By counting how often we see these search queries, we can estimate how much flu is circulating in different countries and regions around the world. Our results have been published in the journal Nature."Does improved short-term foresight matter to your hospital? You may want to get social.