Social media is a very relevant tool for public health surveillance, and is especially pertinent in light of the emergence of globalized and growing epidemics for which there is no known cure. We are often asked about the validity of using these anecdotal data for tracking illness, so we've assembled a literature review that compiles over 100 whitepapers into a single resource entitled “Social Media as a Public Health Surveillance Tool: Evidence and Prospects. This study outlines challenges and opportunities in using social media for public health surveillance based on a review of more than 100 articles on the topic. The research done by Sickweather’s public health policy consultant, Doctor of Public Health Ebele Mogo, shows that there is considerable evidence on the effectiveness of social media as a public health surveillance tool because of its accuracy, timeliness and cost effectiveness in tracking population health sentiments, behaviors, outcomes and emergencies. You can download the paper here:
In the future I’m confident that we will see social media used not only as a public health surveillance tool, but also in combination with other tools to identify health outcomes and for delivering interventions. At the same time there are some challenges that must be addressed including eliminating the noise from surveillance data, identifying potential ethical issues regarding privacy and building an infrastructural capacity in health institutions for big data. Sickweather continues to make tremendous progress to address these challenges.
submitted by: Graham Dodge, CEO