Impact of the social cooling on healthcare

In the series of blog posts, I have been writing on the potential impact of the social media on the self censorship as well as the subtle attempts by the corporate shills to conform the populace in isolated shells.

Here’s something more sinister and it is already happening without oversight or any regulation right under the nose of the governments across the world (this problem is not unique to the US) but Britain, for example, has nothing much else to speak about except the NHS. Europe has a lot of “progressive taxation” and they are more concerned about the quantum of the tax payouts and reduce the healthcare costs in the long term and hence that’s also ruled out. However, the insurance companies are collecting the copious data from everything that can be connected to the Internet in this age of “autonomous cars, buses and even planes”!

From ProPublica, here’s a damning argument:

Patient advocates warn that using unverified, error-prone “lifestyle” data to make medical assumptions could lead insurers to improperly price plans — for instance raising rates based on false information — or discriminate against anyone tagged as high cost. And, they say, the use of the data raises thorny questions that should be debated publicly, such as: Should a person’s rates be raised because algorithms say they are more likely to run up medical bills? Such questions would be moot in Europe, where a strict law took effect in May that bans trading in personal data.

There are two sides of the story- any collected data can be used to guide the individuals to move towards a healthier lifestyle (much like a carrot and stick policy). Conversely in the purely capitalistic terms, these data silos could be used to run “algorithms” on determining ways to “increase rates” with often disastrous results. As much as this appears to be lucrative for machine learning in the presentation decks and pitches, the real world implications would only and squarely invite intense scrutiny. partly because any breach of this data (including the financial records) would make the company criminally liable for the offences but also because there is no explanation as to why the excessive data is doing in the vaults.

Here’s something more:

It also makes sense given the shifts in how providers are getting paid. Doctors and hospitals have typically been paid based on the quantity of care they provide. But the industry is moving toward paying them in lump sums for caring for a patient, or for an event, like a knee surgery. In those cases, the medical providers can profit more when patients stay healthy. More money at stake means more interest in the social factors that might affect a patient’s health.

Therefore, these factors should be encouraged.

Social cooling has its downsides and upsides too. The balance is extremely subtle. It is very hard to pin this abstraction layer down. It is broadly understood that something is wrong but in what way?

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