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What are hot research challenges in social media analytics in health care? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
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Answer by University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics, Educating leaders in health informatics since 1997, on Quora:
With the increased social media usage in the patient population, researchers have started to capture this data and put it to better use to improve and personalize the care provided. There are multiple areas within social media that researchers have focused on. A few of the key areas are:
- Understanding and preventing the flow of misinformation.
- Linking patient-generated social media data with personal health records or the electronic health records for the care team to get a comprehensive picture of patient’s health.
- Providing personalized social media-based interventions to patients.
- Social media content curation.
- Performing predictive analytics and real-time predictions for things like flu trends, etc.
Generating meaningful data from social media is a challenge at many levels. A few of the challenges could be:
- Sheer volume of the data generated.
- Specific vocabulary for specific platforms, e.g. use of slang terms like LOL, etc. This makes analysis very specific to each platform and generalizability becomes questionable.
- It’s hard to estimate if user online behavior is consistent with their behavior offline. It’s hard to estimate if users practice what they preach bringing into question the use of such data as a measure of health.
- Privacy concerns also exist. Even though social media posts are on public website, users may not appreciate their posts being used for research.
Social media analytics is still at the research stage for text based social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Whereas social networks that are available have moved ahead to speech based (Second Life) and image based networks (Instagram). This keeps researchers a decade or two behind with lots of technology to catch up on.