A report on the value of the Internet search tool for emergency departments, studied by a team of researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine over a 21-month period, is published in the January 9 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.
The researchers reported a strong correlation between a rise in Internet searches for flu information, compiled by Google's Flu Trends tool, and a subsequent rise in people coming into a busy urban hospital emergency room complaining of flu-like symptoms.
For the study, the researchers tracked and reviewed Google Flu Trends data for Baltimore City, along with data on people seeking care, into the separate adult and pediatric emergency departments at The Johns Hopkins Hospital from January 2009, to October 2010.
Richard Rothman, M.D., Ph.D., an emergency medicine physician and researcher at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and the senior investigator on the study, says the results show promise for eventually developing a standard regional or national early warning system for frontline health care workers.
Rothman and lead study investigator Andrea Dugas, M.D., recently hosted a national conference in Baltimore of experts from around the country to discuss the implications of their findings. In the long term, says Rothman, the Johns Hopkins team hopes to develop a highly reliable flu surveillance model that all emergency departments could use to reasonably predict a spike in the number of flu-like cases. Such a system, he says, could help emergency department directors and senior administrators prepare by beefing up staffing or opening up patient annexes.
Rothman and his team found the correlation between Internet searches and patient volume was most pronounced when researchers reviewed data showing a rise in search traffic for flu information and the number of children coming into the Hopkins pediatric emergency room with what doctors call influenza-like illness or ILI.
Although the science and medical community has generally accepted that a rise in flu search queries on Google Flu Trends corresponds with a rise in people reporting flu-like symptoms, the Johns Hopkins team is believed to be the first to show that the Flu Trends data strongly correlates with an upswing in emergency room activity.
Currently, emergency departments, hospitals and other health care providers rely on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention flu case reports provided during flu season, October to May, as a key way to track flu outbreaks.
However, the researchers say those traditional reports, compiled using a combination of data about hospital admissions, laboratory test results and clinical symptoms, are often weeks old by the time they reach practitioners and hospitals. Thus, they don't provide frontline health care workers with a strong tool to prepare day-to-day for a surge in flu cases, even as the flu is spreading in real time, Rothman notes.
Google Flu Trends, on the other hand, collects and provides data on search traffic for flu information on a daily basis by detecting and analyzing certain flu-related search terms. The company says the search queries, when combined, are good indicators of flu activity. Users of the free service can narrow their data reports to geographic regions, time frames and other denominators.
Other members of the study team, funded by The Johns Hopkins University National Center for the Study of Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response, include Yu-Hsiang Hsieh, Ph.D.; Scott R. Levin, Ph.D.; Jesse M. Pines, M.D.; Darren P. Mareiniss, M.D.; Amir Mohareb; Charlotte A. Gaydos, Dr. P.H., M.S., M.P.H..; and Trish M. Perl, M.D.
Mark Guidera | EurekAlert!
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
22.02.2018 | Life Sciences
22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences