Healthcare Call Centers

Google Tracks Flu Trends

By Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD

Google claims to know about flu outbreaks two weeks before the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) — really.

Peter DeHaan, Publisher and Editor of AnswerStat

It’s an amazingly simple, yet elegant solution.  Aggregating their vast database of user searches, Google has determined that they can predict and report on a flu outbreak up to two weeks before the CDC, merely by watching for an increase in flu-related searches.

According to the Website, “We’ve found that certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity.  Google Flu Trends uses aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity in your state up to two weeks faster than traditional flu surveillance systems.”

Check it out — especially the demo in the “How does this work” section — it’s quite interesting.  Last year during the flu season, Google consistently reported on flu trends two weeks before the CDC, including an outbreak on January 28, 2008.  In the final analysis, there was an amazing correlation between Google’s numbers and the CDC — just that Google was two weeks ahead of the CDC in announcing their data.

By the way, at this point in the flu season, most flu activity is in the Eastern part of the United States and overall levels are similar to past years.

Read more in Peter Lyle DeHaan’s Healthcare Call Center Essentials, available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of AnswerStat and Medical Call Center News covering the healthcare call center industry. Read his latest book, Sticky Customer Service.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.

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