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Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year 186

Posted by Soulskill
from the minority-report-but-for-hospitals dept.
An anonymous reader writes Google often gets criticism for its seemingly boundless desire for data collection and analysis, but the company says it has higher ambitions than just figuring out how best to serve advertising. Speaking to the NY Times, Larry Page said, "We get so worried about these things that we don't get the benefits Right now we don't data-mine healthcare data. If we did we'd probably save 100,000 lives next year." By "these things," he means privacy concerns and fear that the data might be misused. But he also pointed to Street View as a case where privacy concerns mostly melted away after people used it and found it helpful. "In the early days of Street View, this was a huge issue, but it's not really a huge issue now. People understand it now and it's very useful. And it doesn't really change your privacy that much. A lot of these things are like that."
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Larry Page: Healthcare Data Mining Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

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  • Hey Larry ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Friday June 27, 2014 @12:23PM (#47333721) Homepage

    How many fingers am I holding up?

    Screw you Google. "Do no evil" my ass.

    This is just another instance of him saying "trust us, we're google, give us all your private information, what could possibly go wrong".

  • True in theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thinking Tom (2073828) on Friday June 27, 2014 @12:28PM (#47333789)
    It is true, healthcare data mining could save many lives. The problem is nobody trusts health insurance companies because most of them (a) deliberately make it hard to deal with them in order to get people to give up on collecting claims, (b) refuse to cover at least some of the people we know when they need medical treatment, and (c) limit the quality of care received from most doctors. So nobody trusts them to abstain from using the information to come up with some reason to exclude you either from coverage in the marketplace or for a particular condition.
  • Re:Hey Larry ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by causality (777677) on Friday June 27, 2014 @12:30PM (#47333819)

    How many fingers am I holding up?

    Screw you Google. "Do no evil" my ass.

    This is just another instance of him saying "trust us, we're google, give us all your private information, what could possibly go wrong".

    Yes, at some point it's quite rational to decide "this one entity has enough power". He's really very smooth, though. I'll hand him that:

    By "these things," he means privacy concerns and fear that the data might be misused. But he also pointed to Street View as a case where privacy concerns mostly melted away after people used it and found it helpful. "In the early days of Street View, this was a huge issue, but it's not really a huge issue now. People understand it now and it's very useful. And it doesn't really change your privacy that much. A lot of these things are like that."

    That's a very diplomatic way to go about it. People often mistake that for honesty and openness in fact. It's basically a highly polished way of saying, "if you were educated you would agree with me."

  • by Snapple (3106) on Friday June 27, 2014 @12:37PM (#47333885) Homepage

    There is a HUGE pool of untapped resources. Insurance companies process claims for millions, and have all the data, what is being prescribed, what is not being prescribed.. how long the perscription is for..... Who is seeing a doctor on a regular basis, and who isn't.... Using this data you can find out what treatments are being effective, and which ones aren't. Or is it really worth going to the dentist every 6 months? Isn't that worth it's weight in gold?

    Internally insurance companies can summarize data without compromising their client's as they have the data all ready. Moving it to an external company would involve generating an guid for each identifying piece of information before it leaves the company. Basically a complete scrubbing of the data, but it is not an impossible task.

    Why won't this happen? It's not a privacy issue, it a $$$$ issue.... Drug companies wouldn't want you to find out that they are selling snake oil.. They could loose millions if a report showed that their drug is not as effective as a competitors....

  • Apples and Oranges (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Friday June 27, 2014 @12:39PM (#47333903) Journal

    The number of people who don't get hired because the shrub in their front yard is trimmed crooked is considerably lower than the number of people who don't get hired because they have MS, cancer or some other chronic disease that will cost the company's insurer big bucks and drive up the cost of insurance and cost the company in lost productivity when they're incapacitated. Oh sorry, I meant, don't get hired because they "aren't a good fit with the company culture".

  • by ilsaloving (1534307) on Friday June 27, 2014 @12:44PM (#47333971)

    As I don't have mod points, I'll just reply and say that you are correct, and it's not limited to just that.

    There have already been documented incidents where people in Canada have been denied entry into the states just because they went into a hospital a decade ago for depression.

    Unlike StreetView, it has *already* been demonstrated that easy access to health information will guarantee abuse.

  • by Tucan (60206) on Friday June 27, 2014 @02:43PM (#47334999)

    Larry Page is just complaining that Google doesn't have the data. These data already exist and are being extensively studied by researchers in academics, government, health insurers, employers, and pharmaceutical companies. The de-identified data can be licensed and analyzed by anyone. The fully identifiable information is routinely analyzed by the owners of the data.

    The problem is not access to the data, the problem is that it is difficult to make valid inferences about causation from observational data.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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