How Search Engine Data Can Identify Unknown Side Effects In Drugs

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association found that search data can identify important patterns.

Unless you want to become convinced that the blister on your toe is a sign of a greater life-altering illness, it's generally considered a bad idea to put in random symptoms into search engines and see what pops up. But a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association today found that scientists have been able to find evidence of unknown side effects for prescription drugs by analyzing search data from Yahoo, Google and Microsoft search engines, the New York Times reported.

Researchers looked at queries from 2010 relating to two popular drugs and found evidence from search queries that the combination of the two taken together caused high blood sugar. According to the Times, researchers used similar technology that helps Google Flu Trends predict an incoming wave of the illness.

Last year, Fast Company wrote about how big data will change the healthcare industry. That article is available here.

[Photo by Flickr user Erix!]

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