Twitter data could aide physicians in providing less stressful MRI scans

twitter more pleasant mri
Liz West / Flickr (Creative Commons)
Twitter’s usefulness is extending beyond being just a tool for sending 140-character Game of Thrones spoilers. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, the micro-blogging site can help make MRIs a little more pleasant, or at least less traumatic.

Although important in identifying and diagnosing a range of diseases, from various cancers to joint disease, MRIs aren’t a great experience for a lot of people. The process involving squeezing into a tight space while radio waves scan our bodies, plus the worry of what the scan might reveal, can combine to create an extremely stressful situation.

Johnathan Hewis, an investigator working out of Australia’s Charles Sturt University, recently analyzed more than 450 tweets related to MRIs over a monthlong period. Tweets were categorized among three themes: MRI appointment, scan experience, and diagnosis. In addition to the analysis of tweets describing the actual experience — the sounds patients hear and the feelings of claustrophobia – the team was able to monitor tweets leading up to and following the MRI to get an idea of how patients anticipate the scan and how they feel afterward.

A common complaint, according to the study, was that patients weren’t able to select the music playing during the MRI. While a seemingly minor detail of the process, Hewis notes that allowing the patient his or her choice of music could be the key to less anxious MRI patients. “Music choice is a simple intervention that can provide familiarity within a terrifying environment,” he says.

The team also found among the stressful tweets, a number of supportive messages from friends and family members. Other positive tweets included patients praising their doctors and medical facilities, to some even appreciating the MRI as an opportunity to relax or nap.

Because of the enormous popularity and ubiquitous nature of Twitter and other social networks, they are increasingly becoming significant data mines in the medical field. From analyzing tweets to determine how many people are getting vaccinated, to using the data to rate a hospital’s trustworthiness, Twitter has become a social tool perfect for improving lives, even in the world of MRIs.

Cars

Formula 1 is putting data in the driver’s seat, and not all racers are happy

After a single weekend of racing, a Formula 1 pit crew typically pulls around 2TB of data from the car. Everything, from tire pressure to the temperature of the track, is recorded and analyzed in the name of boosting performance -- and not…
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Mobile

24 must-have apps for rooted Android phones and tablets

Rooting your Android device opens up a world of possibilities, along with a few apps. Here are 24 of our favorites, so you can make the most of your rooted device and unleash the true power of Android.
Emerging Tech

Twitter is officially a teenager now. Are we raising a monster?

On March 21, 2006, Jack Dorsey sent the first ever tweet. Thirteen years later, Twitter has fundamentally changed the way we communicate. Here are some of the myriad ways it's done that.
Social Media

Facebook may soon let you watch live TV with friends in Watch Party

Facebook Watch Party is designed to allow friends to watch together, even when they can't be in the same physical space. Now, that feature could be expanding to include live TV. Facebook announced a test of the feature, starting with live…
Social Media

Federal investigation digs into Facebook’s data-sharing deals

Facebook confirmed it is cooperating with a federal criminal investigation. According to a report, the company is under investigation for sharing user data with smartphone and tablet companies.
Social Media

Facebook explains its worst outage as 3 million users head to Telegram

Facebook, if you didn't already know it, suffered a bit of an issue on Wednesday, March 13. An issue that took down not only its social networking site, but also Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. On Thursday it offered an explanation.
Gaming

Snapchat could soon let you play games in between your selfies

If a new report is accurate, Snapchat will be getting an integrated gaming platform in April. The platform will feature mobile games form third-party developers, and one publisher is already signed on.
Social Media

Twitter is testing a handy subscription feature for following threads

Twitter has recently started testing a feature that lets you subscribe to a thread so that you’ll no longer need to like a comment or post to it yourself in order to receive notifications of new contributions.
Social Media

Your Google+ public content will remain viewable on the web, if you want it to

Google's failed social network — Google+ — will soon be wiped from the internet, but there's a team of volunteers working right now to save its public content for the Internet Archive.
Computing

There’s more space on MySpace after ‘accidental’ wipe of 50 million songs

MySpace is no longer a safe refuge for music and media produced in the 2000s. It said that almost any artistic content uploaded to the site between 2003 and 2015 may have been lost as part of a server migration last year.
Computing

Intel and Facebook team up to give Cooper Lake an artificial intelligence boost

Intel's upcoming Cooper Lake microarchitecture will be getting a boost when it comes to artificial intelligence processes, thanks to a partnership with Facebook. The results are CPUs that are able to work faster.
Social Media

New Zealand attack shows that as A.I. filters get smarter, so do violators

The shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand were livestreamed to social media, and while stats show networks are improving at removing offending videos, as the system improves, so do the violators' workarounds.
Photography

Insta-checkout? New Instagram service lets you shop without leaving the platform

Shopping on Instagram no longer means leaving the platform to checkout in a web browser. Instagram checkout launched in beta today with a handful of retailers, allowing users to checkout without leaving the app.