The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched Now Trending, a “web-based application which tracks more than 200 health terms on Twitter and displays the data in a variety of manners including by geography and time frame”.
Here, for example, were the trends of tweets from people near Western Visayas in the Philippines. Based on two- and four-hour change in tweets, the following indicate conditions in the area: dengue, common cold, acute respiratory, and natural disaster.
Similarly, the graph below shows that beginning August (this month), natural disaster and STD were the most tweeted based on hourly volume of tweets. Tweets on the common cold picked up around the middle of the month. To date, acute respiratory illness was the most tweeted topic.
This is how data from social media can be processed in such a way that provide decision-makers, planners, and researchers relevant real-time indications of public interest in health conditions occurring in specific locations. DOH-Philippines (and it’s local offices) should develop a similar online tool.