1 year ago

The Star: July 27, 2017

The Star: July 27,

SUPREME NEWSPAPER OF THE YEAR National Award Winner Free tickets end wednesday Thursday, July 27, 2017 FREE TICKETS VIA WEBSITE The best read and largest circulating newspaper in Christchurch WWW.GOGREENEXPO.CO.NZ Facebook, Twitter plan to track illness outbreaks ‘I will pay the $1.5m’ Woman still says she has the money to help save teenager Maddie Collins’ life ► Story page 5 PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER • By Bridget Rutherford SOCIAL MEDIA trends, tissue sales and sick leave could be used to help predict outbreaks of infectious diseases and muster the resources to deal with them. The Ministry of Health is looking at whether utilising trends and other unconventional data would help with detection, and improving responses to epidemics. Christchurch health officials are welcoming the research. As part of the project, the Ministry is looking at whether Facebook or Twitter posts about illnesses or symptoms could be tracked to see if there is a trend in a particular area. It would also look at whether school absentees, employee sick leave, over-the-counter pharmacy sales, tissue sales or Healthline calls could be utilised. Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Alistair Humphrey said the Canterbury District Health Board already tracked trends using Googleflu, which could be a good predictor of flu needs. It tracked whether people were making flu-related searches on Google, and where from. “Research into more sophisticated social media analysis is welcome,” Dr Humphrey said. David Jones, a director of Better Health practices, which includes the Linwood, Moorhouse and Barrington medical centres, said the idea had potential. •Turn to page 3