Within moments of the explosions at the finish line of the 2013 Boston marathon, Twitter messages began appearing describing the incident and casualties—some preceded the alerts from Massachusetts public health and emergency agencies sent to emergency departments (EDs) in the area (Cassa CA et al. PLoS Curr. Published online July 2, 2013).
The prospect of using such real-time data to provide early public health warnings—possibly within minutes—and timely alerts to hospitals about oncoming surges or emerging public health concerns has led to a new wave of studies probing ways to use Twitter in medicine and public health.
Kuehn BM. Twitter Streams Fuel Big Data Approaches to Health Forecasting. JAMA. 2015;314(19):2010-2012. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.12836