Big Data Health CareBig data is big business, and consumers are now almost universally used to the drill of signing HIPPA releases and updating pertinent information once a year when they visit their doctor. But how does big data really impact consumers as well as health care providers and insurance and medical billing companies? A recent report uncovered some eye-opening facts about the role big data is playing in lives today.

How the Report Came About

The report, crafted by officials in senior administration positions and headed by John Podesta, a White House counselor, gathered input from hundreds of people who are classified as being stakeholders. Input came from industries such as technology and academia. The focus of the report was to grasp how big data can benefit industries across both the public and private spectrums while also reducing risks.

Results are Evident

In a blog post dated May 1, Podesta espoused upon the benefits that are already evident when big data are put to good use. For example, he detailed how the analytics utilized with big data have been used to highlight reimbursement fraud even before claims are paid out. According to his blog post, the Fraud Security System helped pinpoint those health care providers who were deemed to be at the highest risk for waste, abuse and fraud. About $115 million in fraudulent payments were identified, stopped or prevented. Medical research is another arena that can benefit from the results of big data.

Privacy Concerns Continue

The collection of vast amounts of data continues to bring up the question of how to keep such consumer information private. The report noted that once the data is collected, keeping it anonymous can prove to be very difficult. In addition, concerns were raised that data could be used to discriminate against individuals when they are applying for jobs, health care or housing.

Recommendations From the Report Authors

The authors of the report believe that the benefits of big data can continue with limited effects on the privacy of individuals if the federal government takes a proactive role by:

  • passing legislation addressing national data breaches
  • updating the online standards of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act
  • using their consumer protection and civil rights agencies to curb discrimination by expanding technical expertise
  • ensuring the appropriate use of the big data that is collected
  • protecting non-United States residents by expanding the Privacy Act of 1974
  • drafting legislation about the effects of big data on the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

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Last Updated on May 5, 2014