According to Bloomberg.com, big data companies are no longer dealing with just marketers in the use of their consumption level data. Large strides are now being made into the medical and healthcare field to create personalized treatment plans based on buying patterns. The data is then being further analyzed to create in-depth predictive models to give patients a “risk score” based on their likelihood of contracting specific ailments.
For instance, using this method doctors can track whether a patient has stayed up to date on their prescription refills or their frequency of purchase of harmful products such as cigarettes and be able to format fairly accurate assessments of what their patient’s future health will look like and how to best prepare for it.
While some may view this movement as a technological and medical triumph, it also brings up a very interesting ethical issue regarding the doctor-patient relationship. Some patients have already voiced their opinions of general discomfort about their doctor knowing more about them than they know about themselves. But while some may resist this movement, hospitals will only continue to push for its implementation. Under Obamacare, hospital pay is becoming more closely linked with their quality of care as oppose to the amount of patients they receive. For example, a hospital with less visits from the same patient due to effective care would receive bonus rewards while hospitals that see a greater quantity of patients whom are constantly readmitted to their facility due to their health issues persisting would be levied fines. Basically, better care is valued higher than frequent care. For this reason, hospitals are keen to implement any strategy that aids them in providing more effective and efficient care for their patients.
The issue of big data usage for medically preventative measures is still in its early stages and will continue to be developed. Regardless of where it ends up going, it poses a very interesting topic of debate on whether personal privacy can or should be foregone for our own protection, even if we don’t want it.