Analyzing Patient Health via Internet Shopping

the MPR take:

Could your online shopping habits be used by health insurance companies to predict your future use of health services? An emerging field that intersects health and marketing analytics, called predictive health analytics, uses data such as patient claims, prescriptions, and census records to assess members that are most likely to use emergency and urgent care services (often expensive services). The insurance division of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (U.P.M.C.) uses consumer data from marketing analytics companies that is obtained from public records and private sources to uncover correlations between demographics and behavioral factors and healthcare use. U.P.M.C. found that those who purchased items via mail-order or the Internet were more likely to use emergency services, which may indicate that these patients are homebound or do not have access to transportation. One U.P.M.C. program that applies data to healthcare does so by flagging high-risk patients with chronic conditions that are not being properly treated (i.e., high-risk asthma patients who have not yet been prescribed inhalers) and encourages them to seek primary care and specialist visits for more consistent treatment instead of more costly emergency care. Other analytics companies are using this data to assist hospitals in encouraging well-insured patients to schedule screening tests and preventative visits, which has some critics worried that healthcare analytics will ultimately benefit only low-risk or well-insured patients.

Analyzing Patient Health via Internet Shopping
Analyzing Patient Health via Internet Shopping

At least that's one of the curious connections to emerge from a health care analysis project at the insurance division of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. It is at the forefront of an emerging field called predictive health analytics, intended to improve patients' health care outcomes and contain costs.

READ FULL ARTICLE From The New York Times