There is no doubt that the new information age has touched many areas of our lives; from staying connected to far away family and friends to “Googling” how-tos, symptoms of our back aches… etc.
These days, many people consult Google for healthcare advice before they contact their doctor. This trend has even extended to new social media sites, such as Facebook & Twitter, where symptoms and remedies are being shared by Friends and Tweeps around the world.
Recently, two researchers at John Hopkins University data mined 2 billion tweets and discovered an abundance of real-time medical information that could have far reaching effects on public health on a wide range of ailments. Mark Dredze, a researcher with the university’s Human Language Technology Center, and Michael J. Pau, a doctoral student, created an algorithm to filter out approximately 1.5 million tweets that related to health issues. No personal data was retained by the study, but they were able to record most of the tweet’s geographic locations; allowing them to map medical trends.