If the FSA is searching social media for trends in health is the NHS not missing a trick? Searching for #illness has got to be a way forward for the overstretched NHS trust to find out what just might be around the corner when planning for the onset of winter and the problems that follow.
The annual demand on the NHS for care following flu outbreaks is normally followed by a media response reminding us all that this does happen every year.
Hopefully some joined up thinking between the FSA and NHS could give some warning of when demand will peak. The FSA will be looking for long term trends but sharing data has got to help those who need NHS care get it quickly, and the NHS plan for a real threat to public health.
Millions of Twitter posts are being trawled by official watchdogs for early signs of food poisoning outbreaks and norovirus epidemics. Experts at the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are looking for hashtags such as #barf and #sick to gather information on illnesses.In future, this ‘big brother’ approach to food and health will be extended to smart ovens and fridges, which are connected to the internet, to monitor how families are eating and cooking.The FSA would be able to tell, for example, whether people were overcooking and burning foods, which can lead to a higher level of the cancer risk chemical acrylamide. Watchdogs are trawling through people's Twitter posts for early signs of food poisoning and norovirus.