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.


It’s back! Here’s how to switch to Twitter’s reverse chronological feed

Twitter has finally brought back the reverse chronological feed, allowing you to see your feed based on the newest tweets, rather than using Twitter's algorithm that shows what it thinks you want to see. It's easy to switch.
Social Media

Twitter extends its new timeline feature to Android users

Twitter users with an Android device can now quickly switch between an algorithm-generated timeline and one that shows the most recent tweets first. The new feature landed for iPhone users last month.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.

Apple AirPods may be used to spy on conversations, but please don’t

Apple added Live Listen to the AirPods through the iOS 12 update last September, to help users with minor hearing issues. However, a viral tweet is suggesting that the feature may be used to eavesdrop on the conversations of other people.
Social Media

Instagram now lets you post to multiple accounts in one tap

Instagram for iPhone now lets you post to multiple accounts at the same time. It's not the regram feature that many users have been asking for, but it could prove useful for some users who manage more than one profile.
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.
Social Media

Invite your friends — Facebook Events can now be shared to Stories

Facebook is testing a way to make plans with friends to attend an event -- through Stories. By sharing an event in Facebook Stories, users can message other friends interested in the event to make plans to attend together.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Social Media

Nearly 75 percent of U.S. users don’t realize Facebook tracks their interests

Did you know Facebook tracks your interests, including political and multicultural affiliations? According to a recent Pew study, 74 percent of adult users in the U.S. have no idea Facebook keeps a running list of your interests.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Social Media

Twitter suffers privacy scare as bug reveals tweets of protected accounts

If you set your Twitter account to private and you have an Android device, you'd better check your settings now. Twitter says it's just fixed a four-year-old bug that flipped the privacy switch to make the account public.