Mind to Market

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sermo's FluMonitor

Sermo, an online social networking site for physicians, is leveraging its network of 100,000 physicians in a Health 2.0 application, monitoring the outbreak of disease in the U.S. FluMonitor is an online tool that allows physicians to enter information on clinical observations and track the geographic distribution of the outbreak of infectious disease. Sermo’s first application of this technology is aimed at influenza outbreaks but the FluMonitor technology can be adapted to track other infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, staph infections, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Google has also been working on an online epidemiological tool having announced their Google Flu Trends last November. Google, together with researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have shown a correlation between queries on terms associated with common flu symptoms and the occurrence of the disease. This is yet another indication of the growing use of Web resources by consumers to gather information on disease.

Both methods greatly reduce the time lag in reporting outbreaks which has traditionally taken the CDC 10-14 days. Flu Trends is publicly available whereas FluMonitor is currently available only to members of Sermo. Flu Trends is showing a relative peak in flu activity now (late February) which is certainly consistent with past flu outbreaks. Throughout the entire U.S. the activity level is given as “Moderate.” I feel better already!

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