Early influenza detection and the ability to predict outbreaks are critical to public health. Reliable estimates of when influenza will peak can help drive proper timing of flu shots and prevent health systems from being blindsided by unexpected surges, as happened in the 2012-2013 flu season.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects accurate data, but with a time lag of one to two weeks. Google Flu Trends began offering real-time data in 2008, based on people’s Internet searches for flu-related terms. But it ultimately failed, at least in part because not everyone who searches “flu” is actually sick. As of last year, Google instead now sends its search data to scientists at the CDC, Columbia University and Boston Children’s Hospital.
Now, a Boston Children’s-led team demonstrates a more accurate way to pick up flu trends in near-real-time — at least a week ahead of the CDC — by harnessing data from electronic health records (EHRs).
As Mauricio Santillana, PhD, John Brownstein, PhD, and colleagues describe in Scientific Reports, the team combined EHR data, historical patterns of flu activity and a machine-learning algorithm to interpret the data. This clinical “big data” approach produced predictions of national and local influenza activity that closely matched the CDC’s subsequent reporting.
“Our study shows the true value of considering multiple data streams in disease surveillance,” says Brownstein, the study’s senior investigator and Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital. “While Google data provide incredible real-time, population-wide information, clinical data add a more accurate and precise assessment of disease state.”
Crunching EHR data
Instrumental to the study were data from collaborator Athenahealth, encompassing more than 72,000 healthcare providers and EHRs for more than 23 million patients.
The investigators first trained their flu-prediction algorithm, called ARES, with data captured from June 2009 through January 2012: weekly total visit counts, visit counts for flu and flu-like illness, visit counts for flu vaccination and more. ARES then used that intelligence to estimate flu activity over the next three years, through June 2015.
The team showed that ARES’ estimates of national and regional flu activity had error rates two to three times lower than earlier predictive models. ARES also correctly estimated the timing and magnitude of the national flu “peak week.” It was slightly less accurate in predicting regional peak weeks, but clearly outperformed Google Flu Trends on all measures.
The idea of capturing data directly from health care encounters definitely makes sense — assuming such data can be liberated from proprietary, HIPAA-bound healthcare IT systems. “As EHR data become more ubiquitously available, we will see major leaps in our ability to monitor and track disease outbreaks,” says Brownstein.
“Having access to near-real-time aggregated EHR information has enabled us to significantly improve our flu tracking and forecasting systems,” agrees Santillana, a member of Boston Children’s Computational Health Informatics Program (CHIP), and also affiliated with Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Institute for Applied Computational Sciences. “Real-time tracking will enable local public health officials to better prepare for unusual flu activity and potentially save lives.”
The Latest on: Real-time influenza tracking
via Google News
The Latest on: Real-time influenza tracking
- How Real-Time Location Systems Revolutionized Healthcare on April 12, 2019 at 3:28 am
Real-time location systems (RTLS ... In Crowded Hospitals During peak usage times at a healthcare facility — such as during the height of flu season — it's crucial that workers maximally utilize ... […]
- The Power Of Purpose: How Kinsa Is Tackling Illness In Real Time With Innovative Technology on April 8, 2019 at 4:05 pm
It’s shocking when you realize how much real-time, crowdsourced information we have about ... use Kinsa’s illness insights – which have been shown to track the spread of influenza earlier, more ... […]
- Was The Flu Near You? on March 29, 2019 at 7:35 am
This flu season, we teamed up with Flu Near You, a citizen science project to track the flu’s spread across the country in real time. We asked you, faithful listeners, to help out by tracking your ... […]
- Accurate regional influenza epidemics tracking using Internet search data on March 27, 2019 at 3:05 am
ARGO2 efficiently combines multi-source, multi-resolution information and provides accurate, reliable, real-time flu tracking at the regional level. ARGO2 aggregates publicly available search data ... […]
- Tracking and Preventing Flu with Houston Methodist on February 4, 2019 at 4:07 am
They launched a website to track flu. The link to the site is ... This website will provide real-time data about flu, and this data will facilitate the whole process of treatment. It will solve the ... […]
- Improved state-level influenza nowcasting in the United States leveraging Internet-based data and network approaches on January 11, 2019 at 2:33 am
The ensemble considerably outperforms each component method in addition to previously proposed state-specific methods for influenza tracking, with higher correlations and lower prediction errors. The ... […]
- Tracking The Flu, In Sickness And In Health on December 20, 2018 at 4:32 pm
We’re collaborating with the group Flu Near You. On a citizen science project to track the flu spread across the nation in real time this flu season but we need your help to do it. Here with the ... […]
- Real-time Website to Track Flu Cases Developed on December 6, 2018 at 9:24 pm
New research team developed a real-time website to track flu cases, just in time to help physicians, patients and the CDC for the fall 2018 flu season. The up-to-date information on ... […]
- Houston Methodist launches real-time website to track flu cases on December 6, 2018 at 9:17 pm
Pathologists at Houston Methodist developed a real-time website to track flu cases, just in time to assist physicians, the CDC and patients for the fall 2018 flu season. The up-to-date information on ... […]
- Houston Methodist launches real-time flu tracker website on December 6, 2018 at 1:19 pm
Pathologists at Houston Methodist developed a real-time website to track flu cases, just in time to assist physicians, the CDC and patients for the fall 2018 flu season. Physicians frequently request ... […]
via Bing News