Every time it seems that social media has begun to slow down, some new story comes out with something new and usually seemingly unrelated phenomenon that social media is causing. Now, according to science20.com it seems that social media, with some help from big data, will be able to track the adverse effects of medication.
This may sound a little crazy at first, because what does social media have to do with medication? Surprisingly, a lot. Researchers have discovered a new way of tracking adverse effects by tracking data from social media. Now, adverse effects are harmful and unintended side effects that a new medication can cause. There has been more trouble lately finding out what these effects are before a new medication hits the market, because less and less people want to participate in the trials. With these smaller sample sizes, sometimes the effects do not show up until they are used by the general population. This has proved especially harmful with drugs for children.
However, researchers at Carlos III Universidad de Madrid have been using information generated from blogs and sites like Twitter to track the effects of these new drugs. This makes a lot of sense, considering that health-related searches are the third most popular search on Google. The researchers created their prototype for this project based on Project Trendminer, which translates the language used by bloggers and users of social media to data. This new processed data allows the scientists to identify patterns and trends in the posts made by social media users. Their prototype also contains a linguistic processor which looks for mentions of these new medications, and also any effects that doctors believe may occur from them. To be even more exact, it can be combined with patient’s medical records.
Along with discovering harmful adverse effects, this new use of social media can be a great help to pharmaceutical companies to track the effectiveness of the drug, and quickly pull it from the market if any adverse effects do start to appear.
This new technique could revolutionize the way pharmaceutical companies and doctors treat the adverse effects of medications, and also help them learn of the effects more quickly, maybe before the user of the medication even realizes what it is. This new techniques provides a glimpse of what is possible with the combination of big data and social media.