On Thursday, HHS' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response announced the release of a no-cost Web application that uses Twitter to help public health officials track illnesses in their communities, Healthcare IT News reports.
Contest Leads to App Development
The app, called MappyHealth, is the winner of ASPR's "Now Trending: #Health in My Community" developers' challenge.
Submissions were judged on whether they were dynamic, innovative, scalable and user-friendly. The winning app also needed to use open-source Twitter data to generate a list of the top five trending illnesses in a specific geographic region over a 24-hour period.
The developers of MappyHealth received a $21,000 prize for their app, which they will present during an HHS-sponsored public forum (McCann, Healthcare IT News, 9/14).
About the App
Health officials can use MappyHealth in conjunction with other public health surveillance systems to quickly identify emerging health issues.
Nicole Lurie -- assistant secretary for preparedness and response and a rear admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service -- said, "Having real-time information available in the public domain through social media like Twitter could be revolutionary for health officials watching out for the first clues to new, emerging infectious diseases in our communities and for modernizing our public health system" (HHS release, 9/13).
The top illnesses currently being tracked with MappyHealth include:
- The common cold;
- Mosquito-borne diseases;
- Sexually transmitted infections; and
The top five locations involved in the disease-tracking tweets are:
- Los Angeles;
- Orlando, Fla.;
- Rio de Janeiro; and
- Sao Paulo.
The tool will be made available to state, local, territorial and tribal health agencies in the next few weeks, according to Healthcare IT News (Healthcare IT News, 9/14).