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

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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  • by dorpus ( 636554 ) on Friday June 27, 2014 @12:42PM (#47333937)

    I work as a statistician for a hospital chain. We already do data mining and have interventions for our sickest patients. Our experience, consistent with the medical literature, has shown that badgering patients with whatever "preventative" interventions increase hospitalizations and other costs. These programs persist because of a statistical illusion of regression to the mean -- people tend to be enrolled in such programs when their health is at a nadir, then they stabilize therafter. It makes it appear as if the intervention reduced utilization. In fact, a proper comparison shows that it actually increases utilization. Does Google think that spamming millions of people with robo-calls about eating apples will improve anything?

  • If Only (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Friday June 27, 2014 @12:52PM (#47334063)
    We could make everyone in the country wear blood pressure monitoring, heart monitoring, make them piss on a stick every time, force them to do this, do that, until of course a new do this do that comes along......

    With all due respect Larry Page, and I mean this very respectfully


    First off, tweaking out those few extra heartbeats as we figure out how to keep you alive a couple years longer while you lie completely demented, catheterized in your bed in the Nusring home, is to what or who's benefit? Oh, yeah - the nursing home takes all your accumulated wealth, your retirement, your house, then Your SS. And the healthier they keep you the longer they can stretch out the dying process, the more profit. The goal is to transfer all your money to them and not your family.

    Do not for a minute think that the actuaries haven't figured out the moment your income to them exceeds their profit projection, Your bed could then be filled by someone who still has wealth they can tap into. After which you're just carrion.

    The problem with saving those 100,000 lives is they won't be in the healthy productive years. So Larry, No thank you. There are some things worse than death. Living in a world where you don't even own your body anymore is one of those things

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2014 @01:02PM (#47334157)

    Also: Read an article a while back re: Google's influenza tracker/predictor. Long answer short, missed the marks by a mile. As the article stated, for example, just because someone looks up "flu symptoms", doesn't mean they have the flu, and the IP address for the search might not correlate to where someone might have actually caught the bug (e.g. person is on a business trip right now; sure might be a valuable data point for where this person is spreading the disease).

    Can't imagine spreading this out to more serious ailments.

  • by dentin ( 2175 ) on Friday June 27, 2014 @03:16PM (#47335319) Homepage

    I'm actually shocked by the shortsightedness of the slashdot crowd on this one. I expected at least -some- positive responses to be moderated up. Instead, I see a lot of misconceptions and ignorance of the actual problem Page, like Aubrey Degray, is trying to address.

    We have a hundred thousand people worldwide dying due to various medical problems and the diseases of old age. These medical problems and diseases are complicated. They consist of tens of thousands of interlocking subproblems, so many that we often take several thousand specific issues and lump them together to call them something like 'cancer'. Fixing these problems - all of them - isn't something that a single drug company, or a single nation is going to do.

    It's going to take everybody, everywhere. And in order to fix all these things - cancers, diseases of old age, genetic problems, and more - is going to take research, time, and data. Lots of data.

    Lots and lots of data.

    People whine about privacy, oh no the bad guys are going to steal my information, ignoring the fact that a hundred thousand people a day die and that thier information could help. All of these medical problems are tractable, all of them are soluble, but they'd be a hell of a lot easier to solve if researchers weren't hamstrung by ridiculous information privacy restrictions.

    I don't want immortality in good health just for me, I want it for everyone, and this idiotic fear of having information released is standing in the way of that. A hundred thousand people a day dead, because we fear someone might discover an abnormally BPH score, HIV, or a genetic propensity for Alzheimers. What a steaming load of shortsighted crap.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton