Source: Ministry of Health, 10 April 2017
The Ministry of Health is teaming up with Massey University and
Environmental Science and Research Limited to look at whether
social media can help see flu epidemics and outbreaks of other
infectious diseases coming.
Social media is often the first place people talk about feeling
ill, so trends can visible on platforms like Twitter and Facebook
before doctors are aware of them.
The earlier health services can see an outbreak coming the
better prepared they can be to cope. This can help with
concentrating resources in affected parts of the country and
ensuring sufficient stocks of drugs are available.
The Ministry already uses a range of monitoring programmes to
identify trends in communicable diseases. This involves
working with a number of GP practices who report when patients with
the flu visit them. The information is anonymised - it's
about numbers of cases not the individuals. By adding earlier
tracking through social media, it should be possible to build a
more comprehensive picture.
As a first step, the Ministry is running a simple online survey
to see how New Zealanders would feel about sharing when they feel
ill and, how they currently use social media to let people know
you're interested in taking part you can find the survey
The more people that get involved the better prepared New
Zealand can be.