May 17, 2020

Google tracks dengue fever by analysing search trends

search engine
dengue fever
search patterns
2 min
Google is tracking dengue fever
Google is examining search patterns in an attempt to help health officials prepare for outbreaks of dengue fever. The search engine has started to moni...

Google is examining search patterns in an attempt to help health officials prepare for outbreaks of dengue fever.

The search engine has started to monitor dengue-related search terms in the hope that it will develop an early warning system for outbreaks.

It is focusing specifically on phrases searched by users in countries with a high prevalence of dengue fever; Bolivia, Brazil, Singapore, India and Indonesia.

Google claims that the way in which it is collecting the information is more advantageous than the collection of ‘official data’, as the results are recorded in real-time as opposed to taking weeks to collate.


To read the latest edition of Healthcare Global, click here

Writing in a blog post, Google software engineer said: “Using the dengue case count data provided by Ministries of Health and the World Health Organisation, we're able to build a model that offers near real-time estimates of dengue activity based on the popularity of certain search terms.”

"Google Dengue Trends is automatically updated every day, thereby providing an early indicator of dengue activity.”

Google worked in partnership with the Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School to develop the dengue trackers after using a similar system to monitor the spread of flu in 2009.

The disease tracker is part of the new Google Correlate tool, which was introduced after its successful pilot of Flu Trends.

Google Correlate, which launched last week, is a new service which connects real life data with search terms, allowing experts to compare their data with trending search topics.

The highlights of the software are evident when search terms and real world data match the same patterns, for example, when an outbreak of flu coincides with a large number of flu related search terms such as ‘symptoms of flu’ or ‘treatments of flu’.  

After the 2009 analysis of flu outbreaks across the world public health officials used the collected data to distribute vaccines more effectively.

Dengue fever is a tropical disease which is spread by mosquitoes. Symptoms resemble a severe flu-like illness and include a rash, bad headache, high fever and muscle pains.

Two-fifths of the world’s population are at risk of dengue fever as global incidence has grown dramatically in recent years. 

Share article

Jun 18, 2021

Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool 

2 min
Skin Analytics uses AI to detect skin cancer and will be deployed across the NHS to ease patient backlogs

An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system. 

NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion. 

Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making. 

In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog. 

Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening. 

DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.

Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges. 

"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”

Share article