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Written by: Vester Gravley on Thursday, August 20, 2015 Posted in:

Preventative care takes on a whole new meaning

Businessweek has recently brought attention to advancements in the use of consumer data to develop a prognosis of consumer wellness: “…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.” In cooperation with big names in data brokerage, like Acxiom Corp and LexisNexis, such sweeping wellness profiling is currently the undertaking of two large health systems: Carolinas HealthCare System and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The approach garners massive amounts of “information compiled by data brokers from public records and credit card transactions [to] reveal where a person shops, the food they buy, and whether they smoke…household and demographic data such as whether someone owns a car and how many people live in their home” and other info such as whether prescriptions have been filled or cigarettes purchased. Using an algorithm, the information is formed into a profile and given a score. Michael Dulin, Chief Clinical Officer for Analytics and Outcomes at Carolinas HealthCare System stresses, “The idea is to use big data and predictive models to think about population health and drill down to the individual levels to find someone running into trouble that we can reach out to and try to help out.” Others quoted in the article disagree with these efforts at wellness profiling: “I think it is intrusive,” says one woman from North Carolina, while Irina Raicu, Director of the Internet Ethics Program at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, notes that such activity “is very paternalistic toward individuals”. The image of a father is correctly conjured; do we take responsibility for our own wellness as grown-ups or do we need helicoptering parental oversight to do the right thing? Perhaps the answer has become evident and like it or not, daddy’s home.