April 8th, 2020

Healthcare terminology: will reporters keep on using the keywords that matter to IVD companies after the pandemic? 

Media monitoring is the science of tracking mentions in the media or social media of particular topics or keywords. Media monitoring is the process of listening to who is saying what in the news. It shows us what articles have been published or TV stories have been aired on the chosen topic. It also provides other useful data which we will delve into below.

We used our media monitoring software, Meltwater, to analyse how the media has been taking up healthcare terminology that is not usually part of the journalistic vocabulary. We expected that the keywords we chose would feature in more news stories since the start of the pandemic. Our chosen keywords are:

  • “antibody(ies)”
  • “PCR” and / or “polymerase chain reaction”
  • “point of care”
  • “rapid test”

We looked at the media exposure for these four keywords over the past three months, starting in early January 2020 when COVID-19 was not an issue that affected Australia. We assume that Australian media really began showing an interest in the virus around 15th February 2020. Media exposure represents how media coverage including specific topics or keywords is trending over time.


The first graphic shows media exposure for “antibody(ies)”. The keyword “antibody” was clearly already in occasional usage before the COVID-19 coverage really kicked off. Every day in January, a handful of news stories would include the keyword.

  • The spike on January 29th was actually related to coronavirus, but the headlines were focussed on China and how an Australian lab grew the virus for research purposes.
  • On another normal day in January 2020, the articles including the keyword “antibody” covered all sorts of healthcare topics: oncology, pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, research, etc.
  • So “antibody” is generally well-understood by Australian media as it was regularly in usage outside of the pandemic.


Another keyword that we wanted to investigate is “PCR” or “polymerase chain reaction”. We thought this one would be much less in usage prior to all the COVID-19 coverage, and our suspicions were confirmed, as you can see the increase in spikes since the middle of February.

  • As predicted, “PCR” rose to fame post-15th February 2020, and even boasted an early spike on 19th When we looked into this spike, we found that the news story was actually not on COVID-19, but about a forensic analysis of DNA samples in a murder investigation.
  • Looking at a couple of smaller peaks ahead of 15th February, we found that Aussie media was already reporting on coronavirus and how PCR can help with diagnosis, but in the context of China’s outbreak.
Point of care

A keyword that might demonstrate whether the media is implementing healthcare terminology is “point of care”. Point of care testing has been around in Australia for a number of years for other viruses including influenza. With a number of IVD companies developing COVID-19 point-of-care test kits, we expected a surge in the number of articles containing this keyword.

  • The graphic below shows that ‘point of care’ was only included in a couple of articles daily until the middle of March. This is due to the launch of all these point-of-care test kits, which was an exciting topic for reporters to cover. The biggest spike on 24th March is due to over 360 pieces of print or online media where the keyword is included!
  • We investigated whether ‘point of care’ has the same amount of success during the flu season in Australia. This season generally runs from April to end of June. We looked at the media exposure for this keyword between 1st April 2019 and 1st July 2019. Although ‘point of care’ testing received some media attention, the daily maximum stood at around 20 news articles. Very modest coverage compared to the hype happening right now! And when we looked at the coverage more closely, only a handful of stories actually spoke about influenza point-of-care testing.
Rapid test

Finally, we looked into the keyword ‘rapid test’. This one has been in the media a lot in the recent weeks due to IVD companies developing tests for COVID-19.

  • So the graphic below is no surprise to anyone.
  • We repeated the experiment we conducted for ‘point of care’, using the same influenza season date range. ‘Rapid test’ was even less popular than ‘point of care’! A maximum of six stories on 16th May 2019, none were about influenza rapid testing. This test is available in Australia. Why is no one talking about it?

As we enter 2020’s flu season, it might not seem like the most important virus to battle at the moment. However, protecting ourselves from the flu is always important and should not be avoided at this time. This can avoid bottlenecks in our ICUs and ensure that patients are receiving the treatment they need. If you have an influenza test available, do not let your communications around this product suffer due to COVID-19! Get your message out there and remind the public that you have influenza detection devices during this flu season.

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