All-You-Can-Eat Health Data

Posted on December 20, 2011 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

Casinos can teach the healthcare industry a thing or two about influencing customer behavior. So says this interesting feature in California Healthline this week.

Think about it – if it’s your first time, and you lose 500$ straight off the bat, you’re not likely to head to the nearest ATM to withdraw more cash. The people who run casinos understand this, the article quote California Healthcare Foundation CEO Mark Smith as saying. That’s why casinos have loyalty card systems in place – so they can not only know what you’re doing, and to influence your behavior in a way that benefits the casino.

A casino doesn’t necessarily want a first-time customer to lose money right away, he said, because that customer becomes unhappy and won’t come back. “So if you’re a first-time customer and you’re down 150 bucks, someone in the casino will slide up to you and ask you how you’re doing,” Smith said. “And maybe get you a comp meal or a drink.” The casino intervenes before customers reach the decision point to leave.

For the healthcare industry, the holy grail is patient data. If there is enough patient data, the innovators can come along, interpret it, and hopefully healthcare providers can nudge patient behavior enough to make a change in overall health.

The most interesting thing about the article, to me personally, was reading about how data that has been made publicly available can be used for interesting uses. The article talks how data made public by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fuels such varied things as the Weather Channel, mobile weather apps and so on.

And guess what? All that can happen to healthcare as well. Much public health information is available for access by the general public, and part of the job of HHS has been to make innovators aware that public health data is now available. The article talked about Bing using Hospital Compare data to provide users with hospital comarison statistics.

I followed some of the links on the article and finally ended up at the site, where as promised, a treasure trove of data is publicly available – just waiting for the right technogeek to come along and do something cool with it. Could that innovator be you? Go check it out!