How social media analytics can help get drugs to the right places during epidemics
- About 1,500 tweets about Ebola were tweeted before the Nigerian Ministry of Health declared the outbreak official on July 24.
- A study published in the Journal of Infection Control reported on this trend and noted that tweets reached over 58 million people the day before the Nigerian Health Ministry reported the first case, in-Pharmatechnologist reports.
- The researchers who wrote the study report noted that they were able to identify the source of each tweet in terms of latitude and longitude.
The co-author of the study, Sunmoo Yoon from the Columbia University School of Nursing, has concluded that social network analysis is a useful tool for predicting infectious disease outbreaks, such as influenza and other infectious diseases. Twitter not only provides predictive insight, but can also help aid agencies distribute medications and pharma companies monitor customer responses.
It should also be noted that because cell phone saturation is very high in the developing world, social media is often the most reliable way to know what's going on in far-flung villages and communities.