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Big Data Will Be Watching, And ‘Suggesting’

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Increasingly, consumers will be reminded, even prodded, to get mammograms and other recommended tests. And someone who has just received, for example, a mammogram might also start receiving ads and other promotions for breast cancer–related imaging and treatments.

Will Big Brother be watching? No; Big Data.

That’s the prediction of John Henning Schumann, MD, a primary care physician in Tulsa, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa School of Community Medicine, and a regular commentator for Public Radio Tulsa.

Earlier this week, Dr. Schumann took a turn at prognosticating for NPR’s Shots health-news blog. He described his post as:

One doctor’s predictions about what we will see in the short and medium term for what I see as the unfolding Obamacare era.

He does think there will in fact be an Obamacare era. In fact, the post is titled “A Doctor’s 9 Predictions About The ‘Obamacare Era.'” “Obamacare is moving ahead,” he wrote, “Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz notwithstanding. … We will look back on these defunding attempts as political theater.” Whether tragedy or farce, he doesn’t specify.

If his “big data” predictions come to pass, the immense amount of information about individuals now being collected by commercial entities could provide a significant boost for radiologists. How much would compliance rates for current and possible future radiologic screening programs for breast cancer, lung cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other maladies increase if potential patients received regular e-mail or text nudges from a health-care provider?

And what about targeted marketing of imaging services to people whose recent visits to, say, an orthopedist might indicate that they might be in the market for follow-up scans? “HIPAA prevents doctors and hospitals from sharing protected health information with other entities without patients’ (or their surrogates’) permission,” Dr. Schumann said. “But I think drugmakers and others could soon use general information about you to market their products, figuring that because of Obamacare you now have insurance.”

It’s a quick and thought-provoking read. Check it out when you have a couple of minutes.

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