Health care analytics initiatives often rely on claims data, some clinical data and other traditional data sources. But according to Jason Burke, managing director and chief strategist at the Center for Health Analytics and Insights at business software/analytics vendor SAS, don’t look past non-traditional sources.

The National Collaborative for Bio-Preparedness, a public-private partnership in North Carolina, discovered it is possible to predict certain events, such as propagation of disease, with non-traditional data. A Norovirus outbreak, for instance, could have been predicted six to eight weeks ahead of time by analyzing more obscure sources as ambulance call data and, remarkably, people reporting their gastro-intestinal problems on Twitter, Burke said.

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