Boston Children’s big data effort provides near real-time influenza tracking

Using cloud-based data from electronic health records, a Boston Children’s Hospital-led research team has successfully demonstrated that it can detect cases of influenza in near real-time and in the process beat similar reporting by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by at least one week. The results of their study, published online May 11 in the journal Scientific Reports, shows that by leveraging EHR data, historical patterns of flu activity and a machine-learning algorithm to interpret the data, researchers were able to make accurate predictions of national and local influenza activity that matched subsequent CDC reporting. As the authors of the article point out, CDC monitors influenza-like illnesses (ILI) in the United States by gathering information from physicians’ reports about patients with ILI seeking medical attention—one of the most…


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