Monday, July 7, 2014

Your Doc Will Be Watching When You: Cancel Gym Memberships, Make Trips to Fast Food Places, and Buy Plus-Sized Clothes

This is from the Fiscal Times

Hospitals are now getting in on the game of big data collection by monitoring their patients’ consumer information—like credit card purchases at fast food joints—to identify people with health risks before they walk in the door.

And you thought the NSA was a problem.

The largest hospital network operating in North and South Carolina, Carolinas HealthCare System, is gathering data on 2 million people to throw into predictive algorithms designed to flag high-risk patients, Bloomberg’s Businessweek first reported.

Things that might set off warnings include canceling gym memberships, frequent trips to ice cream parlors and transactions at plus-size clothing stories.

“Information on consumer spending can provide a more complete picture than the glimpse doctors get during an office visit or through lab results,” Michael Dulin, chief clinical officer for analytics and outcomes research at Carolinas HealthCare, told Businessweek.

Though the hospital system just began collecting this information, it hopes to begin regularly distributing patients’ health scores (based on the data) to doctors and nurses so they can reach out to the patients before they become sick.

The systems can also calculate the probability of someone having a heart attack—all by examining the kinds of food patients are buying and activities they are (or are not) participating in. ...