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Medicine Privacy

Hospitals Begin Data-Mining Patients 162

schwit1 (797399) sends word of a new and exciting use for all of the data various entities are collecting about you. From the article: You may soon get a call from your doctor if you've let your gym membership lapse, made a habit of ordering out for pizza or begin shopping at plus-sized stores. That's because some hospitals are starting to use detailed consumer data to create profiles on current and potential patients to identify those most likely to get sick, so the hospitals can intervene before they do. Acxiom Corp. (ACXM) and LexisNexis are two of the largest data brokers who collect such information on individuals. They say their data are supposed to be used only for marketing, not for medical purposes or to be included in medical records. While both sell to health insurers, they said it's to help those companies offer better services to members.
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Hospitals Begin Data-Mining Patients

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  • Anyone up for HIPAA? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @09:40AM (#47323783)
    Law firms recently received instructions regarding "secondary" violations of HIPAA. For instance, a firm might store X-ray images and depositions, expert affidavits, diagnoses, etc. that are strictly controlled at the source, but not necessarily at law firms, be the form of retention paper or digital. It would seem logical that all parties who have access to, or store, HIPAA-covered information should be regulated the same.
  • by dargaud ( 518470 ) <slashdot2@gdarga[ ]net ['ud.' in gap]> on Thursday June 26, 2014 @09:56AM (#47323929) Homepage
    I live in a country with full healthcare. One thing I'd like to see is a (somewhat) obligation to give results on your treatment. Each time you go to the doctor to get some treatment, some time later you'd receive a mail with a link to a webform with a few _simple_ questions such as: did the treatment help ? Did you feel any adverse effect ? For how long were you sick ? For how long did you take your treatment ? Did you take any extra drugs, etc. And if you fail to respond to too many emails, your 'free' health care starts being dinged in you pocket. Of course, with exemption for some people and/or disease.

    It wouldn't cost much to implement, and would be a trove of info. Have a public structure derived from the national healthcare in charge of it which enforces strong anonymity, and provide anonymity data to big data analysts. It wouldn't take long to figure out scandals such as the Mediator. I mean, if you can't take ONE minute to answer some questions that WILL help others, why should you get free health care ?

  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @10:16AM (#47324061)
    One step further; You're with a friend and stop at a convenience store, he asks you to get a pack of smokes. Your insurance states you're a non-smoker. They use this data to refuse a claim in the future.
  • by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @10:17AM (#47324073)

    I write medical imaging software, surounded by dozens of doctors every day that are not just out of earshot of the patients but sometimes not even in the same country. My sample size is obviously not representative of much at all, though at least in my tiny corner of the world the situation is the total opposite of what you describe. These people sigh and get upset when they see terminal disease, they cry when children are dying, they don't enjoy seeing people hurt and don't waste a second if it means life or death. They are often detached but they still care.

    Don't mistake the human factor for doctors that are worried about getting sued because someone broke their pinky finger and had to wait for the guy having a heart attack to be treated first.

  • by CreatureComfort ( 741652 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @10:21AM (#47324109)
    Nurse Joke: "You know what you call the guy who graduated last in his class at medical school? Doctor."

    Angie's List was created because separating the lousy doctors from the very few good ones is almost impossible. The AMA has lobbied successfully to make it illegal for a patient to find out the malpractice history of physicians.

    If you're looking for a new doctor, the best thing you can do is talk to some local nurses. They know which ones are on the ball, and which ones are flat out dangerous.
  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @11:05AM (#47324507)
    Hmmmm... I'm not so sure it's so unbelieveable. If you can be labelled an enemy combatant for wearing a Casio wristwatch [wikipedia.org] I'm pretty sure you can be labeled a smoker for buying some cigarettes.

    You're still thinking rationaly. You can't do that around these people.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2014 @11:06AM (#47324521)

    I work IT at a large practice for a specific uncommon specialty. It employs 30+ doctors. There's quite a range of different types... I don't know if it's representative of doctors as a whole but it is humanizing indeed.

    There's the ancient high-brow jerk who disdains to speak with a "computer nerd with no degree" but the guy knows his medicine, despite the attitude. There's the cute lady who muddles through just barely, but has great "people skills". There's the hot-shot european-educated surgeon with a list of demands three pages long before he even does an evaluation. There's a totally chill unassuming doctor with funny posters that the other doctors make jokes about, but whom I know reads through medical journals like some of them read tumblr. And so on.

    Computer skills and inclinations vary wildly too, despite my expectations there would be a higher overall competency.

  • Re:HIPAA? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2014 @11:46AM (#47324913)

    The hospital is taking marketing data and using it for pseudo healthcare related reasons.

    This seems as good a place as any to bring this up. Have other people been getting creepy robocalls from people claiming to be affiliated with their insurance companies?

    CSB: Robocall from a 'bot that knows my name, and it claims I need to fill out a survey for my health insurer. I ignore it. Bot calls back a few months later and says it just wants to be sure I'm getting the health care I need, etc.

    I do some digging and discover a company called Inovalon (formerly MedAssurant). The deal appears to be that because the insurance companies can't do medical underwriting anymore, they give their customer data to Inovalon [washingtonpost.com]. Inovalon then tries to harass customers into getting a "personal health visit" either at a physician's office, or at your home (small PDF of FAQs for physicians [anthem.com]).

    Of note from the PDF: "What are the qualifications of the medical professional who will be evaluating my patient if they have a Personal Health Visit with someone else? The assessment is limited to a physical exam; treatment will not be provided. The medical professional will be a licensed physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant hired to perform this service. It is important to note that this exam is in addition to any regular visits the member has with you and is not a substitute for the memberâ(TM)s annual physical examination" / "Will I be paid? No. We have contracted with Inovalon to perform these visits. Since there are no additional resources required from you or your staff, no compensation will be provided to you. After the examination is complete, the documentation from the exam will be sent to you so you can better coordinate your patientâ(TM)s care."

    Translation: Medspeak: "Go see your doctor, a doctor, any doctor, because an annual checkup is a good idea." Marketspeak: "It'll keep you healthy!" Truth: "See a doctor that your insurance company chooses, so that it gets all the data and we know who to drop from coverage when/if PPACA is repealed. We can't do medical underwriting anymore, but we can ask nicely and maybe get the data anyways."

    CSB: Zero health problems for 15+ years, annual physicals every 3-5 years, I take my own vitals because blood pressure and blood sugar levels are trivially cheap to measure at home. Zero claims to insurance. Zero contact with insurance company for that entire time until this year when I switched from employer's expensive gold-plated plan to cheaper bronze ACA plan. Since then, six robocalls. Next open enrollment period, I'm seriously considering calling them up and telling them in most cordial fashion to go fuck themselves.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 26, 2014 @12:50PM (#47325609)

    "Lots of math. It involves looking at historical data, attempting to identify patterns and critical factors, then using that model for predictive purposes."

    This will fail (to help people). It may be useful as exploratory analysis, but without theory backing it up it is nothing but curve fitting. It will be even worse than current epidemiology (which has a horrible track record, possibly even worse than psychology) that is at least somewhat informed by theory and expert opinion. This new way of incorporating consumer habits is just adding in additional assumptions to mislead the interpreters. Plus, we need to get rid of strawman NHST before anything like this can be implemented intelligently.

    Now, this may be able to make some people some money, but help patients...no. Unless you have access to a more detailed account of what is planned beyond mathigic and it differs greatly from what I suspect, it will not help patients.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday June 26, 2014 @01:10PM (#47325811)

    What frightens me is the idea that they could get the wrong information and give that to my doctor or insurance company.

    To make matters worse, it seems impossible to get erroneous information removed. For example: My wife was misdiagnosed with asthma by an allergist. From then on, until she died 10 years later, every doctor asked her about her asthma, and she would tell them about the error. Even now, 8 years *after* she died, I still get flyers in the mail from BC/BS about asthma addressed to her.

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.