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Algorithm Contest Aims To Predict Health Problems 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the math-of-health dept.
databuff writes "The April 4 launch of the $3 million Heritage Health Prize has been announced by the Heritage Provider Network, a network of doctors. The competition challenges data hackers to build algorithms that predict who will go to the hospital in the next year, so that preventative action can be taken. An algorithm might find that somebody with diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol is a 90 per cent risk for hospitalization. Knowing this, it might be cheaper for an HMO to enroll them in an exercise program now rather than pay the likely hospital bill. The competition takes the same approach as the $1 million Netflix Prize, but solves a far more significant problem."
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Algorithm Contest Aims To Predict Health Problems

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2011 @06:42PM (#35107678)

    Just label them as a 'High Risk Candidate' and jack up their premiums 2-3x so they can no longer afford healthcare by the point at which they need service :P

  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Friday February 04, 2011 @06:53PM (#35107774) Journal

    The purpose of insurance is cover random catastrophic expenses, not to let a person cost-shift known expenses to his or her neighbors. If your body is breaking down because you spend decades being fat and never did anything about it then foot the bill yourself. If you can't afford the cost of fixing a problem caused by your own lifestyle decisions then tough shit.

  • OR (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2011 @06:54PM (#35107782)
    "Knowing this, it might be cheaper for an HMO to enroll them in an exercise program" OR DROP THEIR COVERAGE!
  • Re: Obama Care (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Friday February 04, 2011 @06:55PM (#35107790)

    And this is different from how your current insurance provider treats you now? "You smoke? Extra fee. You ever have cancer? Extra fee".

    The only people I've ever run into who have a problem with "ObamaCare" are ignorant assholes (and republicans, but they're in the same group).

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Friday February 04, 2011 @06:57PM (#35107804) Homepage Journal

    the data is not centralized

    Actually a solid argument could be made that the data is centralized, you just don't have access to it because your insurance company makes more money by not allowing you to access it. Insurance companies have plenty of centralized data on plenty of people in this country; enough to make very solid models - particularly models for the types of people that the insurance companies are most concerned about.

    If you could get the data from just one big insurance company or HMO - like perhaps the one that is advertising on this story - you could get plenty of data to build your algorithm. You just have to convince them that you are worthy of access to it (even if it has the personal identifiers removed).

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday February 04, 2011 @07:06PM (#35107882)
    Very few medical conditions are caused purely by lifestyle choices. Genetics play a big role. Many catastrophic expenses are due to catastrophic events, like car accidents. Even HIV is not always caused by life style choices -- millions of babies are born with it, and there is no way of determining whether a health care worker contracted it because of their job or because of their choice of sex partners.

    That being said, I agree with you in principle. Public health care should be targeted at prevention and diagnostics. Catastrophic health care should be covered by insurance; if you don't pay for insurance, you're out of luck. That still doesn't change the fact that 90% of most people's health care expenses are incurred in the last 5 months of their lives, but cutting off funding for that would amount to a real version of the "death panels" the Republicans have falsely associated with the new Health Care act. Health insurance is so expensive because we simply refuse to let people die in peace.
  • Re:Safeway (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday February 04, 2011 @07:30PM (#35108058) Homepage

    Your reward is a long, healthy life. That's more valuable than money, IMO.

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