For the study, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine researchers compared Baltimore-specific data from the Google Flu Trends website, which estimates influenza outbreaks based on online searches for flu information, to ED crowding and laboratory statistics from Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Using Google Flu Trends, researchers found that the number of online searches for flu information increased at the same time that the hospital’s pediatric ED experienced a rise in cases of children with flu-like symptoms. The Google Flu Trends data had a moderate correlation with patient volume in the adult ED. Moreover, Google Flu Trends signaled an uptick in flu cases seven to 10 days earlier than CDC‘s U.S. Influenza Sentinel Provider Surveillance Network. (via Advisory.com Daily Briefing)