Healthmap is a perfect example of what technology can do to advance healthcare information. It aggregates online media reports to enable infectious disease intelligence on a global level. Its a near real-time internet-based infectious disease surveillance that is free from political and geographical restraints.

Healthmap extracts real-time information from more than 10,000 sites every hour and text mines them for disease and location patterns using bayesian filtering. The interface is clean and intuitive mashup with google maps. Links to the source of alert and a ‘heat index’ (composite score for each incidence based on things like recency of alerts, number of sources etc) are provided.

There are limitations too-  dependance on other sources, unstructured text, lack of integration between sources, not comprehensive, etc. But if you think of it as a free resource that supplements existing public health systems, its a great asset for general public and clinical professionals.

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