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When a Health Plan Knows How You Shop
In a fascinating article in The New York Times by Natasha Singer, potential implications of health care company usage of consumer data in the medical industry are explored. The reporter states that, "There may be a link between your Internet use and how often you end up in the emergency room." This link came about after the insurance division of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center carried out a health care analysis project. At the forefront of the predictive health analytics field, the UPMC division noticed that "Mail-order shoppers and Internet users...were likelier than some other members to use more emergency services."
This correlation opens the door to many questions and thoughts about the possible impact of such an association. For example, by looking at an array of data that includes household income, education level, marital status, race or ethnicity, and number of children in conjunction to patient claims, doctor visits, and prescriptions, patients could be categorized into different levels of care. In some ways, this could pinpoint the exact type of care that someone may typically need. On the other hand though, this could bring about "differential treatment" which could have negative influence on equality laws.
Besides the implication of categorizing patients from predictive analytics, the article explores other ideas such as the risk of inaccurate data, the limits of privacy rights, and the questioning of health practitioners on their purpose for using such analytics.
Rising Media Inc.