Doctors using financial companies to scrounge up private patient information
In order to appease the demand for healthcare providers to not only treat but also prevent disease, doctors and hospitals nationwide are developing algorithms to help them forecast patients' medical futures. Of course, their search for information doesn't end with speaking to the patients themselves. In their quest for efficiency, mining for behavioral, consumer and financial data has become the norm. So, your doctor probably knows what kind of videos you like to watch online, how much debt you have and much, much more than you ever wanted them to know.
Sometimes, hospitals do speak to their patients directly to gather these types of "clues," but many have also been purchasing information from data collection companies. Doctors are also relying on information that is provided by federal agencies, through their statistics on poverty, housing density and unemployment.
Supporters of this new approach maintain that when doctors know more about their patients, they are able to provide a higher level of care. This is true. Telling your doctor about your lifestyle, diet and other habits can help them provide you with realistic solutions to prevent disease. It can also help them determine if there are underlying conditions that may be affecting your health and preventing you from advancing towards your health goals. However, the key here is that it is your choice to tell your doctor about yourself. No one should be digging through your personal information without your permission, end of story.
I think most people would agree that doctors buying your financial information off the internet from a data collection agency is a huge violation of personal privacy.
Obviously, the two diseases insurance providers are most concerned about are heart disease and diabetes. These are two of the most prevalent conditions in our society, and become more prolific with every passing year. Studies have shown that diet modification and regular exercise can help to drastically reduce a person's chances of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, the Diabetes Prevention Program – a massive clinical study – found that diet and exercise yielded substantially better results than a drug commonly used in the treatment of diabetes known as metformin. Diet and exercise are also two primary tools for the prevention of heart disease.
Good nutrition and exercise are paramount to maintaining one's health and preventing disease. But is your doctor really the best person to be giving you advice on nutrition and exercise? They may know you need to improve in those areas, but for many, that's where their knowledge ends. In 2014, The Washington Post reported that recent polls had indicated that less than 25 percent of doctors felt that they had adequate training in nutrition. In addition, The Post reported that less than 30 percent of all medical schools in the U.S. were actually meeting the requirements for nutrition education.
So, your doctor wants to know all of this information about you, but clearly they won'tactually know what to do with it. At best, they might suggest you see a dietitian. And that is something that they could do without digging through your bank statements and other personal information, now isn't it?