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How Hospitals Exhibit Ego Networks

Humans are evidently not the only things that have social networks. In this study, we can see how even healthcare facilities have an ego network. The paper touches on many topics discussed, such as triadic closure and structural balance theory. It describes a strong tie as two hospitals sharing more than fifty patients and a weak tie being just a single shared patient. The article proceeds to talk about how the spread of the bacteria Enterobacteriaceae can be found by tracing the ego network of a hospital. Shared patients were defined as a patient who was transported between two facilities in a ninety day period. Depending on how the ties were defined, the ego network of just a single hospital reached more than half of the facilities. This is when only one patient needed to be shared.  The ego network rankings were found to be more accurate than geographic proximity. Using this information, the authors were able to predict which hospitals were likely to be visited by an outbreak patient. Most of the spread was contained within this network. By seeing which facilities are connected, the facilities at the highest risk can be determined.

The main relations between this article and what we’ve studied in class is the discussion of ego networks and strong and weak bonds. Although not discussed explicitly, it is likely that hospitals that shared patients with A through strong bonds also shared some form of bonds. The reason that disease is able to spread so proficiently is not just because of the bonds that these other facilities have with hospital A, but also because of the bonds shared between them. Moreover, when we think of the ego network, we just see the connections between A and the other hospitals. This alone amounts to more than half the total number of hospitals in Chicago. However, this only accounts for one ego network. If we consider that each of them has its own network, the spread of the virus can reach exponential levels, as each location spreads to its own ego network. This is how hospitals reflect ego networks and strong and weak bonds. 

Website: https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/67/3/407/4836930

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