Should a Patient’s Social Networks Be Considered When Assessing Their Health?

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Absolutely, and this whole idea of friend's data is really critical, again to early days when we could do this with help, we are soon going to learn this because this is one the questions we're actively researching. Can you predict a person's risk of certain health outcomes? Better using friend's data than using your own data.

I know it sounds highly impossible but we've already done this for voting behavior, there is a researcher at the Gillwho showed that using your friend's Twitter data, you can do a better job of predicting whether you're a Democrat or Republican than if you use your own tweets, your own Twitter data.

And the reason why is because although the data that your friends have about you is more of quality, it's much higher in quantity, and so all the noise in that data if you do this right, you can watch it out and make much better predictions about your outcomes. And so just for example, if we want to know your heart attack risk, one of the things that would be really good to know is out of all your Facebook friends, how many of them have had a heart attack? And people who have friends who have had more heart attacks so it's going to be a lot of things that you share with them.

Behaviors, ideas, different kinds of exercise and eating habits, those are all going to be integrated into this piece of information that your friends had heart attacks. And so as a consequence I think what we are going to see is that using the friends data online about what just happened to their health, is going to help us to really turn that demon to crystal ball for you and help you to really understand what kinds of things you're risk for and what kinds of things you should be working hardest on to avoid the bad things that might have happened to your accounts.