Twitter users who post personal health related information might be considered by some to be over-sharers, but University of Arizona study suggests that these health-related tweets may have the potential to be helpful for hospitals. Researchers have created a model that was able to predict with 75% accuracy how many emergency room visits a hospital could expect on a given day.
The researchers looked specifically at the chronic condition of asthma and how asthma-related tweets, analyzed alongside other data, may help predict asthma-related emergency room visits. Lead author Sudha Ram said, "We realized that asthma is one of the biggest traffic generators in the emergency department and often what happens is that there are not the right people in the ED to treat these patients or not the right equipment and that causes a lot of unforeseen problems."
The researchers found that asthma related visits to the emergency room went up as certain air quality measures worsened, and also as the number of asthma-related tweets increased. The researchers additionally looked at asthma-related Google searches in the area. However, they found that it was not a good predictor for asthma emergency room visits.
The study will appear in Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics.