Is your doctor mining your data?

Author: Lindsey Sablan
MGN Online

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Information like what you buy at the grocery store, what you charge on your credit cards, even what you surf for online, could soon be part of your health report. Some experts say this analysis could actually improve your health or maybe even save your life!

Experts say a growing number of  hospitals across the country are using big data to gain insight into patients. Industry insiders stress this data about consumers is already collected and is commonly used by marketing companies. Information like: what you buy, where you shop, even your social media use.

And some hospitals are getting help. Bill Moschella’s company analyzes data for hospitals, and says some use it to identify high risk patients and reach out to them before they get sick. In this age of health care reform, hospitals’ are cutting costs to help people avoid repeat emergency room visits.

“The underlying concept is of course they really want to drive better reimbursements for themselves but of course this should lead to a better health care outcome for the patients who are receiving this treatment,” said Moschella.

The way hospitals access and use data varies.  Mochella says for his clients, doctors aren’t told if you buy a lot of ice cream or cancel your gym membership. Instead they may provide a report that says you could be at risk for certain diseases.  It’s something hospital consultant Tuth Padilla thinks could be helpful.

“Physicians are strapped with time with their patients the more they know about their patients in advance of a visit the more they can probe into certain things that might make them more at risk for disease,” she said.

But what information is inaccurate?  Pam Dixon of World Privacy Forum  believes if hospitals are going to  analyze data to determine patient risk they should share it with patients. She says whether that will become standard practice is still to be determined.

“The world where a patient who walks into the doctor’s office and the doctor’s done a huge predictive analytic work up on the patient, I don’t think we’re there yet. However, I do think that world is coming,” she said.

WINK News called our local hospitals to see if they are buying data similar to that gathered in marketing. Only Lee Memorial was able to respond and they said they do not.

For More information on what kind of information is being shared with third parties and what you can opt-out of, click here.

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