How SMA can be applied to improve existing health problems?

In blog 1, the definition and process of social media analytics are explained; In blog 2, the primary contents of SDG3 are illustrated. Continue to the last two blogs, how can we combine these two together? In other words, how can social media analytics help to solve the existing health problems? Instead of giving a broad introduction, I would love to discuss some particular issues that SMA can contribute to.

1. Improvement on health insurance

In 2018, I’ve known a “drug hero” named Lu Yong through the movie “Dying to survive” and noticed a group of people are not only suffering from serious diseases but also taking a heavy economic burden. In 2003, Lu was a leukemia patient and spent out all his savings because of a curing medicine Gleevec, which is not covered by health insurance and would cost 23000 yuan just for one-month supply. Leukemia patients like Lu started to share their miserable experience and complain the high cost of Gleevec on BBS. Patients were trying different solutions and seeking help through various approaches, however, without money, they could do nothing but die. Luckily, Lu found an Indian generic version of Gleevec that only cost 200 yuan and started to help patients purchase this drug on BBS and QQ, saving hundreds of lives.

It’s a moving story, but never is an eternal solution for a country. As shown in Fig1, in 2014 China, about 30% of people has to spend their own expense on health matters. Unlike 2003, recently, people love to share and post their lives on social media like BBS, Weibo or Twitter. To prevent this tragedy happening again, SMA can play an important role to help improve the health insurance coverage through the following aspects:

  1. According collected statistics on social media, it’s much easier to detect the existing medical problems (such as the searching numbers, topics, trends).
  2. Help letter on social media can be another important insight. Applying SMA, summarization of existing issues can be easily shown, and the relative organization or government can offer help depending on the emergency. (e.g. Financial difficulties of leukemia patients would be discovered faster)
  3. According to different types of diseases, using keywords like ‘money’, ‘specific drug name’, ‘hospital’, ‘bed number’ to calculate the actual demands of patients and detect the contradictions between plans and actual situation.
Fig 1: Time trends of total health expenditures and out-of-pocket expenditures in China[1]

2.Better awareness on mental health

As mentioned in SDG 3.8, promoting mental health and well-being need everyone’s attention. As shown in Fig.2, the number of suicides in US is increasing and going to exceed 45000. The stress comes from all sides, we can’t predict and sometimes hard to prevent. In addition to real-life consult, what kind of role can SMA play in keeping mental health?

Fig.2: Total suicides in the US, 1981-2016[2]
  1. NLP and sentiment analysis could be vital approaches. The content of Twitter, Weibo posted in public could be classified as positive or negative. If an account keeps posting negative content for about 10 days, the social media platform could firstly try to pop up some relief post like cat movies or relaxing songs.
  2. With the help of SMA, sensitive words like ‘suicide’, ‘die’, ‘testament’ or other negative words could be quickly detected. Experts could try to comfort through private massage or comment, and call on the police if necessary.

3. SMA can also….

a) Infectious disease control: Through statistics of shared locations, find people most likely to be infected. For example, if someone shared location in ‘华南海鲜市场’ in Wuhan among December to January, he/she could probably go there and has a great chance to be infected of novel coronavirus. SMA could help to track those people and control at the first time.

b) Help quitting smoking and alcohol: pop up public service announcements or relative short videos to the users who posted about smoking or alcohol with high frequency.

And many other aspects you can share with me.

Above suggestions are my primary assumptions, the balance between privacy and SMA still should be noted. This blog is a little bit long, but every aspect is coming from deep thought. Hope it can give you different insights.

[1] Time trends of total health expenditures and out-of-pocket expenditures in China. Nabholz, Christoph. (2017). Diabetes in China.
[2] Suicide in the United States. Wikipedia. Retrieved from

How SMA can be applied to improve existing health problems?”的一个响应

  1. Hello! I am coming!!
    My pleasure to have the same idea with you! Health is a most important thing for person. Without health, people can not deal with anything. Improvement on health insurance is a emergy thing for us. As you mentioned, many people can not pay for the cost of medication. If we could utilize SMA, government and medical institution could make measures intime. The second one you mentioned is mental health. I think people nowadays usually feel stressful and confused. They may shared their bad feeling on social media before some worse accident happen. Your idea about the way SMA works are creative and Hit the point!
    The Infectious disease control of SMA is also what I mentioned in my blog. If the magic of SMA could be develop, there may be more happiness in society. Wish people could be all healthy and do what they want to do.

    1. Hello, it seems that our views are very similar!
      With the development of society and people’s needs, both physical health and mental health are essential. SMA is simply a direct way to learn the real situation. Of course, this is fully reflected in the COVID-19 incident. SMA does play an important role in the spread control of infectious disease news. Hope It can play a more important role in the future.

  2. Here I am again!! I really like your blogs! All of them are well-structured and some facts and data can be proved by proper figures. In this blog, you give me a comprehensive cognition on how SMA can be applied to improve health problems. I’m surprised you didn’t forget the mental health problem. SMA really can do a good job in help solving mental health problem. Many depression patient would like to choose socia media platforms as places where they can vent their emotion. If the expert can discover the extremely negative emotion in time, they may have the chance to stop depression patients from suicide.

    1. Thanks for your compliment and I’m totally with you.
      Mental health is a topic we urgently need to pay attention to. With social events in recent years, depression and other mental illnesses have attracted more and more attention, so I think SMA can definitely help people in this regard!

  3. Oh my god, you really made some great suggestions. For example, based on the positioning of the South China Seafood Market, find people who have been there. Relevant government departments can use social media analysis to better identify issues related to the disease and to better formulate policies. Even better, you also mentioned the contradiction between social media analytics and privacy. This is a great article.

    1. Yes, in fact, SMA could have a great chance to infringe the privacy of many people, event though these information are sometimes the keys to solve the problem. This is indeed a very contradictory problem. Looking forward to solving this contradiction in the future

  4. wow, sweetie! your suggestions are comprehensive and easy to understand! I like your points of views, which is special and practical! SMA can be applied to improve health insurance, mental health and so on. When we mentioned health problem, people always related to physical health and ignored mental health. But now there are more and more people suffer from depression, it is necessary to use SMA to promote more information about mental health!

    1. Yes, SMA can be used for accurate advertising, of course, it can be used to encourage some psychologically vulnerable people, give them hope for survival, and hope that this technology can truly contribute to society

  5. I think the article is really awesome which introduces the applications of SMA in the issue of “Good health and well-being” from three aspects very clearly and concisely and I think your ideas in these aspects are really good which are really practical. I like your idea of “Infectious disease control” especially because you take the new coronavirus which is spreading in China now as an example, making you idea more vivid and easy to understand. And also, what you suggest is exactly what local governments are doing, they track whereabouts of citizens to control the outbreak and has achieved good results so far. I believe that SMA will play an important role on this issue in the near future.

    1. Thank you for praising my article. I believe that COVID-19 has affected our lives to some extent, so I also hope that if we encounter it again in the future, we can make full use of our technology to avoid more serious situations.

  6. In health problems, SMA can make many contributions to solve the problem. Firstly, we should have knowledge of the current status of health problems consists of the trend of medical problems and the number of potential patients. After analyzing the data, we can give some suggestions for these issues. The next part, which further enumerates the applications of SMA in health problems, makes me interesting. On the basis of the keywords “a location in China” in the posts, to find out the potential people that are infected. Oh my, how hardcore the idea is!

  7. You’re right, companies that do collect statistics on social media. Coincidentally, I’ve worked in Lilac Garden before, and my previous job was to collect information about the public’s interest in medicine through social media. By counting the click rate of a certain drug on the website, and by positioning on the page, the user’s usage habits are counted. The statistically analyzed data is then administered to the plant. Pharmaceutical companies can produce drugs according to the user’s concerns, and the greater the demand, the lower the research and development costs.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Very specific and very accurate. The examples in your article are very close to life and super novel. For example, judging the current needs of patients through “keywords” on social media, or analyzing psychological problems through machine learning technologies such as NLP. It seems that SMA can protect people’s physical and mental health. I especially like the example of SMA tracking infectious disease. I think if adopt your suggestion earlier, we won’t need to sit at home and have a remote class.

    Liked by 1 person


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