We Couldn’t Possibly Be In Better Hands

Hospitals Spy on Your Purchases to Spot Bad Habits – Insurance Broadcasting

Much of the information on consumer spending may seem irrelevant for a hospital or doctor, but it can provide a bigger picture beyond the brief glimpse that doctors get during an office visit or through lab results, said Michael Dulin, director of research and evidence-based medicine at Carolinas HealthCare System.

Carolinas HealthCare System operates the largest group of medical centers in North Carolina and South Carolina, with more than 900 care centers, including hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices and surgical centers. The health system is placing its data, which include purchases a patient has made using a credit card or store loyalty card, into predictive models that give a risk score to patients.

Within the next two years, Dulin plans for that score to be regularly passed to doctors and nurses who can reach out to high-risk patients to suggest interventions before patients fall ill.

Buying Cigarettes

For a patient with asthma, the hospital would be able to score how likely they are to arrive at the emergency room by looking at whether they’ve refilled their asthma medication at the pharmacy, been buying cigarettes at the grocery store and live in an area with a high pollen count, Dulin said.

The system may also score the probability of someone having a heart attack by considering factors such as the type of foods they buy and if they have a gym membership, he said.

“What we are looking to find are people before they end up in trouble,” said Dulin, who is also a practicing physician. “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.”

While the hospital can share a patient’s risk assessment with their doctor, they aren’t allowed to disclose details of the data, such as specific transactions by an individual, under the hospital’s contract with its data provider. Dulin declined to name the data provider.

Greater Detail

If the early steps are successful, though, Dulin said he would like to renegotiate to get the data provider to share more specific details on patient spending with doctors.

I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about here.  Especially since the healthcare system is about to be swallowed whole by Leviathan.

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


We Couldn’t Possibly Be In Better Hands — 4 Comments

  1. “The health system is placing its data, which include purchases a patient has made using a credit card or…”

    I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that they’ll somehow get their hands on credit card purchase data. Mastercard and Visa sell transaction information? What the hell is up with that?

  2. The owner of the cigar store I frequent told me that I should start using cash instead of my plastic, because of Obamacare. Eventually, they’ll start correlating your tobacco and alcohol purchases with your health insurance, he said.

    That was a year ago. Apparently, he wasn’t paranoid after all.

    • That’s the thing that pisses me off the most, that the most wild-eyed paranoid theories, which had the US federal government (and lower governments, where they could) peering into every aspect of your life … understated the case.

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