The rapid rise in the popularity of the internet and more so, the social media websites have brought the world much closer and has helped us in various aspects of our lives. One such important aspect is the tracking of the outspread of diseases and health hazards in different parts of the world.
There have been various studies, which have suggested that social media can track diseases quite accurately and anticipate their outbreak faster and better. The posts and tweets on the popular social media websites when observed carefully can be of great help in mapping the outbreak or the spreading of diseases worldwide.
How do Social Media help in Tracking Diseases in Advance?
HealthMap is quite a popular and unique application that brings together various data sources and information through which one can attain a comprehensive and intuitive idea about the global outspread of any disease.
Through this system that is updated all the time one monitors, visualizes, organizes and integrates various sources of online information about the emergence of any disease in nine different languages. This helps greatly in the detection of any kind of global threat on public health.
Tracking diseases through online sources is not a new concept as researches have previously been done on Google or Yahoo regarding health hazards with good results. The use of social media is, however, a relatively newer concept that acts as a much-improved digital indicator for health problems and diseases.
The use of such social media sites would include your personal perspective regarding the condition of your health and illness. Although these perspectives come in your local languages, the uses of nine different languages help in the understanding of these perspectives easily and clearly.
While it takes quite a lot of time for other medical services to track such diseases social media with real time and proper data from the people themselves, make this effort quicker and better.
Instances of Social Medias’ Help in Disease-tracking
The department of Health and Human Services is therefore quite interested in the approach that involves the social media for the tracking of diseases and health problems among the common people. They encourage new and advanced applications that not only help in the tracking of the disease and their trends but also make use of social media to provide them with advance signals in matters of emergency health situations among the public.
The use that social media can be of, in such cases, can be traced back to 2009 at the time of the outbreak of the influenza A also known as H1N1. The social media sites were among the first to have provided clues for the outbreak of the flu during that time.
The arrival of such critical situations can be assessed much in advance by proper monitoring of the social media on a constant basis. Another example can be taken during the emergence of cholera in Haiti, when these social media sites provided prior indications of the epidemic.
The proper and detailed analysis of the social media and the news reports on the internet can thereby provide valuable information to the researchers in the tracking of any disease outbreaks much faster than the previously used medical notification methods.
There are social networking sites even for the patients and the clinicians, like the PatientsLikeMe, that though unproven, provide promising and valuable information for detecting any kinds of emerging diseases.
These mobile applications and ubiquitous websites help in keeping proper track and better communication on the personal disease and health problems of the people. Because of the emergence of these social media sites in the scene, tracking and treating of diseases has become better and easier now-a-days.