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Healthcare IT's Achilles' Heel: Sensors

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the still-waiting-on-that-tricorder dept.

Cloud 84

Nerval's Lobster writes "Tech publications and pundits alike have crowed about the benefits we're soon to collectively reap from healthcare analytics. In theory, sensors attached to our bodies (and appliances such as the fridge) will send a stream of health-related data — everything from calorie and footstep counts to blood pressure and sleep activity — to the cloud, which will analyze it for insight; doctors and other healthcare professionals will use that data to tailor treatments or advise changes in behavior and diet. But the sensors still leave a lot to be desired: 'smart bracelets' such as Nike's FuelBand and FitBit can prove poor judges of physical activity, and FitBit's associated app still requires you to manually input records of daily food intake (the FuelBand is also a poor judge of lower-body activity, such as running). FDA-approved ingestible sensors are still being researched, and it'd be hard to convince most people that swallowing one is in their best interests. Despite the hype about data's ability to improve peoples' health, we could be a long way from any sort of meaningful consumer technology that truly makes that happen."

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84 comments

Wait a second. (0)

Moryath (553296) | about 4 months ago | (#45719883)

I thought the achilles heel of healthcare IT was the dumbass doctors and nurses who put passwords to everything on sticky notes attached to the monitors?

Re:Wait a second. (1)

Inflammatory Fallacy (3464447) | about 4 months ago | (#45720055)

And it's not like the supposedly HIPAA-obscured records hospitals keep aren't enough to identify a patient. However, IT security in the field of technology is beyond the scope of the article, no?

Re:Wait a second. (2)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#45720363)

Wait!? That was a password?

The pharmacy figured that scribble was a prescription and they've been having me stuff strange suppositories up my ass for weeks.

Re:Wait a second. (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#45720983)

"The pharmacy figured that scribble was a prescription and they've been having me stuff strange suppositories up my ass for weeks."

Calm down. You aren't getting the wrong medicine. That wasn't the pharmacy's mistake, that was the NSA.

Re:Wait a second. (1)

bmk67 (971394) | about 4 months ago | (#45728549)

Wait!? That was a password?

The pharmacy figured that scribble was a prescription and they've been having me stuff strange suppositories up my ass for weeks.

I hate to break it to you, but those aren't suppositories. Around here, we call them "crutches".

Re:Wait a second. (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#45720711)

Healthcare IT's actual problem is audit and compliance, oversight and regulation and how it slows adoption of useful technologies.

HIPAA, SOX, PCI compliance for payments, JCAHO audits, internal audits, external audits, record retention laws, the list goes on and on.

Re:Wait a second. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#45721131)

"Healthcare IT's actual problem is audit and compliance, oversight and regulation and how it slows adoption of useful technologies.

HIPAA, SOX, PCI compliance for payments, JCAHO audits, internal audits, external audits, record retention laws, the list goes on and on."

Aaaaaaannnnddd... that leads us into the other big question. Let's say hypothetically the sensors were all working fine. So, then...

Who gets the data?

Re:Wait a second. (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#45721187)

The same systems that already get your data, where it has to conform to a pile of other regulations -- some silly, some sensible.

The the external monitors people get sent home with now...

Some data will be kept.
Some data will be discarded.
The kept data will be part of the ever increasing nightmare of healthcare IT data policies.

Re:Wait a second. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#45721355)

"The same systems that already get your data, where it has to conform to a pile of other regulations -- some silly, some sensible."

No, you missed my point.

Say your "sensors" work through a smartphone app. Who is to say the data doesn't get sent to third parties, the way your current smartphone sensor data often does?

Re:Wait a second. (1)

Eskarel (565631) | about 4 months ago | (#45721689)

I hate to break it to you, but your health care data isn't anywhere near as private as you think it is.

That's not to say that it's being shared improperly or that it's particularly insecure, merely the fact that the number of people who have perfectly legitimate access to your health care information. We all treat health information like it's some sort of deep dark secret, but all the legislation is quite sensibly based around allowing medical professionals to actually do their jobs. Then of course the people who pay your bills need to know what you were treated for so your insurance company knows. Depending on what you were treated for the state or federal government may or may not be notified and the information they are provided with may or may not be deidentified(for whatever that's worth). You might even see law enforcement or social services notified under certain circumstances, all perfectly legally and perfectly legitimately.

Re:Wait a second. (1)

turning in circles (2882659) | about 4 months ago | (#45722463)

Yes, but these new home sensors generate jnew/more healthcare data, sent to an app on your smart phone, that you may not want your health insurance provider to know about. For example, you are a diabetic, you let your blood sugar get too high. You are not in compliance. If your health insurance provider knows, will they charge you extra premiums for not keeping your blood sugar in the proper range? Once the data is generated, the insurer will demand a copy of it. Read The Circle by Dave Eggers.

Re:Wait a second. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#45722761)

"I hate to break it to you, but your health care data isn't anywhere near as private as you think it is."

You didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, and that's still not the point.

Regardless of whether there is a reality of "privacy" or not (and there is supposed to be), my POINT was that if this runs through something like a smartphone, and things don't change soon, then you'll soon have even LESS privacy than you already have.

I am aware that medical privacy has not lived up to expectations. But there ARE still regulations, and there ARE still expectations.

And I don't agree with you about "legally and legitimately". Lots of that last bit you talk about might be legal, but I dispute whether it is "legitimate". Those are two very different things.

Re:Wait a second. (1)

Eskarel (565631) | about 4 months ago | (#45723415)

The point is that health information needs to be available to the people who actually need it. In every jurisdiction I have ever worked in your privacy comes second to the doctor, the nurse, catering staff's ability to not kill you. In most places you'll actually have a consent form which will allow them to share this information with additional third parties, but the number of people they don't need that consent for is actually fairly high.

For one, obviously your health insurance company also needs all your medical information, or at least all the medical information you expect them to pay for and they will share that information with whoever they share it with based on the agreement you have with them, which will in all likelihood be any number of people.

The government gets at least deidentified data for the purposes of hospital resourcing and health analysis(that is to say they may not know you went in for a procedure, but they know someone did). If the government is either your hospital provider(public hospital) or your health insurer(public health care) they obviously get significantly more than this as they get the information that those two roles would require.

Law enforcement is slightly more questionable, but its one of those situations where it starts legitimately. As an example, it makes sense that if you are arrested and have a mental illness or other significant impairment that the police who have arrested you are aware of that information so that they can take appropriate steps to ensure that you have the support you need so that your rights are not violated. The difficulty of course is that for a number of reasons which we won't get into here, the police cannot always be trusted to have your best interests at heart.

Your health information is private, but not exactly in the sense that most people believe. In theory we would only share information with the people who need that information when they need that information, but there's really no practical way to make that happen and in general the health care industry tends to be biased towards choices which involve patients not dying as opposed to ones which necessarily fully respect their rights. This is why if you don't have a legally implemented living will or the doctor is not aware of your living will they will resuscitate you against your wishes.

Re:Wait a second. (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#45729325)

That was YOUR point. My point was something else entirely. You are attempting to have a discussion about a different subject than what was being discussed.

Re:Wait a second. (1)

Eskarel (565631) | about 4 months ago | (#45736623)

I'm attempting to make a point about the privacy of medical information and the way most people don't really understand it. Your point about your telco spying on you isn't really all that interesting so there wasn't much to say about it. They can already collect the information from the existing sensors if for some reason they wanted to whether you installed a medical app or not and unless the medical app was deliberately sharing with your Telco relatively trivial security mechanisms would stop them from getting anything from any additional sensors. The information isn't really all that interesting to them in isolation and doesn't give them much about you they couldn't already have gathered from information available to them.

The reason I was discussing what I was discussing is because if you're going to start having tin foil hat fantasies about your medical privacy it's important to actually understand the level of privacy you actually have and what that information actually is.

Re:Wait a second. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45721673)

Is there a fitness tracker that leaves the data on MY PC, and does not phone home?

Re:Wait a second. (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 4 months ago | (#45723279)

Insurance, which uses the information to determine that you are violating your health care policy. That it wasn't an accident that your leg is broken and you have a concussion, but that it was because you were stupidly going 50 mph down the side of a mountain on a gravel road when your tire blew and you hit a tree, therefore you aren't covered. Will that be cash, charge, or will you be remortgaging your home today?

Re:Wait a second. (1)

jon3k (691256) | about 4 months ago | (#45721167)

Someone mod this man up, please.

I'd like to add in RAC audits, Federal Oversight Surveys, anything the OIG has ever done and why not CMS while we're at it.

Re:Wait a second. (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#45726989)

Also, I hope you don't have a hospital in California, because if you do, your new technology is going to require us waiting for the new building to be built - because any construction-related infrastructure improvement (to, say, fit in the new full-body scanner) would require earthquake retrofitting the entire building, which is out of the question.

Re:Wait a second. (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 4 months ago | (#45721885)

As I put it to a friend recently, I am a practicing physician. I can think of several multibillion-dollar ideas in health care - but I don't see how you can implement them without several hundred million dollars worth of investment and about a decade of lead time, at which point the ROI isn't so spectactular.

HIPAA (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | about 4 months ago | (#45722651)

Now that we have Obamacare, why can't HIPAA be crumpled up and tossed?

The whole point of HIPAA was to keep your health info secret from insurance companies, so that they wouldn't deny you coverage or overcharge you for being a sick person. Of course, that was a stupid idea- insurers don't care about the juicy details of why you're sick. They only care about which policyholders are costing money. You obviously can't keep your insurer from finding out about the claims payments they're making on your behalf. And nothing ever seriously prevented insurers from conspiring with each other about whether to blacklist you, even if your doctors were gagged and prevented from revealing your blood type to each other.

The central feature of Obamacare is supposed to be preventing insurers from overcharging or denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions. If that's the case, then WTF is the purpose of HIPAA anymore? Keeping your spouse in the dark about your herpes? Making sure potential bosses can't google your name against "DSM-5" or "virus"? Preventing WalMart greeters from tackling kleptomaniacs? Ensuring food charities won't withhold green bananas from the terminally ill?

Since HIPAA was enacted, people have really gotten in their heads that the privacy of their health information is their most treasured possession. People are even screaming about HIPAA violations on healthcare.gov because it has a radio button for smokers to click on. But if *insurers* can't do anything with this information anymore, then who cares? Should we still be forcing sick people to make extra trips to the hospital so they can pick up their X-rays in person? This info should still be confidential, but I don't know why it deserves its top secret status anymore.

Re:Wait a second. (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about 4 months ago | (#45723891)

Healthcare IT's actual problem is audit and compliance, oversight and regulation and how it slows adoption of useful technologies.

Exactly - in the biotech field I've heard it referred to as the 17-year problem, because that's the amount of time it can take to get FDA approval for any new tech.

Try to get people to fund or work on your product when it can take up to 20 years to start getting a return on your investment.

Re:Wait a second. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720823)

I thought the Achilles heal of health care IT was the dumbass doctors and nurses that refuse to use fingerprint technologies instead of passwords?

Finally. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720049)

It's about time people realize this. And it's not just healthcare IT. It's EVERY field. We are SORELY lacking in sensors and data in ALL areas. What are the fucking electrical engineering doing??? Make some fucking sensors!!! The fact that I, as a programmer, still have to rely on GUIs and text as a primary source of input is evidence that more sensors need to be developed. I don't want to have to rely on data entry from fallible humans.

Re:Finally. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720107)

I bet an implanted blood pressure sensor on you would be pegged...

Re:Finally. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45733051)

You are damn right it would be pegging. Seems to me this is politics more than anything else. The electrical engineers want to keep their monopoly over programmers. I say, screw the electrical engineers!!! Programmers need to start getting together and making their own sensors. And, I mean professionally done, high grade, top notch sensors, not hacks you typically see from programmers. Of course, that would require a concerted group effort.

Re: Finally. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720237)

If you're so smart then make them yourself.

Re:Finally. (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about 4 months ago | (#45720245)

What are the fucking electrical engineering doing??? Make some fucking sensors!!!

Proptip .. designing robust, reliable and cheap sensors is hard.

Re:Finally. (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | about 4 months ago | (#45721787)

Installing and maintaining them is costly as well.

Finally managing vast amounts of data is difficult as well.

Re:Finally. (5, Insightful)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#45720337)

What are the fucking electrical engineering doing???

We're trying to figure out how to keep your fucking lights on when you don't like nukes, hydro, coal, or natural gas and the wind stops blowing at night.

Re:Finally. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720529)

Brilliant!

Re:Finally. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45733151)

What is wrong with nuclear??? Make sure you build on stable ground (not on tiny islands) and shoot pellets of waste into space using electromagnetic mass drivers. ANY concentrated energy source is potentially dangerous, and any distributed energy source is potentially unreliable or insufficient. We need energy. The problem is not energy, it's PEOPLE. We need to EDUCATE more, and get rid of all of these divisive myths and corrosive traditions.

Re:Finally. (1)

russotto (537200) | about 4 months ago | (#45721469)

What are the fucking electrical engineering doing???

Everyone wants smaller and cheaper. Better? If it increases the BOM cost by a fraction, forget it.

They should have gone with proven technology (4, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 4 months ago | (#45720109)

They should have gone with a proven technology shown in this early patent application: http://xkcd.com/644/ [xkcd.com]

Instead they went for bluetooth and the damn thing says "enter 0000 in the device" and the damned device is buried 3 cm under the subcutaneous layer of the Gluteus maximus. How am I going to do that?

Re:They should have gone with proven technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45741091)

Pulse code.
Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Pause.
Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Pause.
Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Pause.
Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench. Clench.

But Slashdot doesn't like this, calls it a "postercomment", so we're going to have to use fart tones.

data mongering (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720133)

And somewhere an NSA analyst is beating himself frantically thinking about the data collected when insurance companies require* everyone to wear one of these.
*With drastically reduced deductibles!

Emergence of cloud medicine (1)

Inflammatory Fallacy (3464447) | about 4 months ago | (#45720163)

I disagree with the notion that "it'd be hard to convince people" to ingest medical sensors. Perhaps blood-based sensors would fall prey to that kind of thinking, but those aren't quite possible as of yet. Although a certain number of so-called skeptics will be eager to outline the GPS-tracking possibilities with this kind of technology (which, amusingly enough, could be thwarted by wearing foil), implanted and ingested sensors fill some of the main voids in medical security, namely the current failure to treat chronic illnesses such as diabetes and obesity, as well as the communications breakdown between doctor and patient ("where do you feel the pain?" Is it a stinging or a burning pain?"). Given enough time, the sensors themselves will improve, miniaturize, and drop in cost, and once that happens, medicine itself will change dramatically. It's far too early to call off the parade.

Re:Emergence of cloud medicine (2)

Fwipp (1473271) | about 4 months ago | (#45720277)

Simplifying communication with your doctor is cool and all, but I'm more worried about the sensor failing with an "All systems nominal" reading. Some doctors are already too prone to believing your problem is imaginary - without a faulty device telling them that you're fine.

I don't mean to suggest that internal medical sensors are inherently a bad idea; I just think we need to be careful to not let our medicine get too reliant on them.

Re:Emergence of cloud medicine (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 4 months ago | (#45721949)

The average person has no idea how many people come in with vague pain complaints that are clearly psychiatric in origin. They are legion.

That doesn't mean that the pain isn't perceived as real - I have no doubt that people with fibromyalgia hurt. But the pain is inside their brain, not in their muscles or guts. Opioid pain medications are a terrible choice.

Re:Emergence of cloud medicine (1)

Inflammatory Fallacy (3464447) | about 4 months ago | (#45722841)

As is the case with most technological advancement, it will benefit the vast majority of cases while being detrimental to a vast minority of cases. If anything, false positives will be a bigger issue than false negatives, as is the case with most sensor systems (such as in security). More important is that implantable sensors don't do anything other than replacing non-implantable sensors. You can have a series of sensors monitor your body temperature, which might have very important implications in early-warning diagnosis of many diseases in a way that even the patient will likely not realize. The same is the case with this sensor [kurzweilai.net] , which allows for the same kind of detection of certain kinds of cancer.
What people tend to be afraid of is going to a doctor when they "know" something is wrong, only to be turned down because their temperature is fine and pain surveys come back inconclusive (As happens to a staggering number of hypochondriacs daily). The issue is, the 'standard' setting for sensors is never 'normal', because 'normal' is never zero. If a sensor breaks or turns off, or even if it reads a constant value looped indefinitely (contrasting against the otherwise-dynamic readings a working sensor would return), that will obviously be a problem with the sensor, and a doctor won't be fooled.

We don't need an other BMI that can be inaccurate (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 4 months ago | (#45721229)

higher muscle mass tends to put them in the overweight category by BMI

BMI also does not account for body frame size

Luckily, it's completely unrelated to BMI (1)

Inflammatory Fallacy (3464447) | about 4 months ago | (#45723129)

I entirely agree that BMI is a flawed system. It doesn't pretend to be an absolutely foolproof statistic, either. Body fat percentage is more indicative of overall health, of course, but the main issue with using body fat by ratio is that it's much harder to measure accurately. And that's a recurring theme within medicine, especially the types of medicine that focus on improving the overall health of the patient, rather than simply finding a problem to solve. It's a problem that implanted and ingested sensors will solve rather than exacerbate, because they allow for more accurate measurement in an easier, more constant manner.

just put down the fork (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720167)

If you need the "cloud" to tell you to step away from that bag of chips, you have issues that technology (short of unpleasant stuff like wiring your mouth shut) can't solve.

Yeah! Like I want the NSA inside me. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720169)

The only place they belong is in my colon.

Over-exaggeration to call this the Achilles' Heal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720177)

This is an example of over-engineering a solution to the wrong problem. Healthcare is not deterministic, it's stochastic, and we have no direct way of measuring several variables. For example, it's not easy to tell the genetic make up of an individual, gene expression, regulation of such expression or phenotype. We also cannot model environmental impact on the internal biochemical or biomechanical processes. For argument's sake, let's assume that we can do that. How are you going to model how bacteria, viruses, vectors and fomites behave in the real world? Even if you can do all of that, different individuals will have different outcomes in the exact same environment with exact same genetic mark up. If you take two identical twins and subject them to the exact same environment (try it with mice - they reproduce fast and have a short life span), one might develop a disease (e.g. cancers, heart disease, neurological disorders, metabolic diseases) independently of the other. Given that medicine is inherently stochastic, we have learned to reason under uncertainly. We can do a lot of useful stuff in the presence of uncertainty. The only place where you want to measure small amounts of data accurately is for medical imaging of tumor margins, or pharmacodymanics of drugs with very low therapeutic index (the margin between effective and safe dosage). The Achilles Heal is to make the available information well represented and computable, not to spend too much money to measure too little inconsequential data "accurately". What we want help from the technology community are ways to represent clinical, genomic and molecular data correctly and interoperably, and to have tools to discover new knowledge from these data, or to apply existing knowledge to a given patients' data. IAAPAAMI (I am a physician and a medical informatician, with a decent background in computer science).

Re:Over-exaggeration to call this the Achilles' He (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720267)

Replying to myself. The problem with using technology in medicine is not measuring inconsequential structured data "accurately". It is extracting useful information from unstructured data, making sure that the extracted information represents the patient's condition correctly and completely, and that the extracted information is interoperable - for example, you run a patient's document through two different NLP engines - do their output have the same meaning, and can a third machine process those two outputs and tell that they have the same meaning. Most medical records are unstructured free text. You can provide a several gigabytes of exercise or nutrition data for a patient, and a doctor would summarize them in a few pages in a patient's chart that is 200 pages long. The question is, how well can computers evaluate the unstructured data? It's easy to build a new transducer to generate more structured data. It's much harder to build a "transducer" to get accurate and meaningful information out of unstructured data.

InGrid AI with "pharmacodymanics" eigenvector actu (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720523)

Prototype claims: -

Spotify-like, (Ingrid AI on Bitcoin) with entrainment, and remote viewing. Like the Hamilton's Promis with Roberts Rules of AI.

Today you can only get Ingrid On Winamp and enquires are welcomed to get the Facebook inspired formula for the Ingrid AI on Bitcoin rewrite.

Next thing, ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#45720275)

... they'll be wiring a plethysmograph to sex offenders' GPS ankle bracelets.

Re:Next thing, ... (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 4 months ago | (#45721957)

I'm sure there's an amusing joke here, I'm just missing it. What does their respiration rate have to do with anything?

Re:Next thing, ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45722577)

most plethysmographs record heart rates and oxygenation. He's probably referring to the penile and vaginal varieties of this sensor.

Welcome to Hell (2)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about 4 months ago | (#45720317)

In theory, sensors attached to our bodies (and appliances such as the fridge) will send a stream of health-related data — everything from calorie and footstep counts to blood pressure and sleep activity — to the cloud, which will analyze it for insight; doctors and other healthcare professionals will use that data to tailor treatments or advise changes in behavior and diet.

Yeah, because I find that what I'm really lacking in my life is having a insurance executive following me around every minute of the day nagging me about everything I do.

Re:Welcome to Hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720407)

Don't worry, you won't ever be FORCED to do it. There will just be a tax, that isn't a tax until the SCOTUS declares is a tax if you don't provide all the data to the insurance companies, about your every move, because with all this data, they can more accurately decide your healthcare for you. Because your healthcare isn't really YOURS, its the "communities" and if you do something dangerous its not fair to the "community".

Big data is the wrong way to go (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720415)

I can't even trust the government not to snoop on my browser history, and you want me to hand a third party a complete record of my day from the inside out?

Athletes (1)

TechHSV (864317) | about 4 months ago | (#45720417)

Tell a triathlete (or any athlete) that they can get data that can help them perfect their diet or training and they'll try this in a heartbeat.

How much would athletes pay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45721181)

Sure, if they can get the data for free.. But would they be willing to pay, say $10k/year? 10k one time, and 1k/year?

they can get some data now for around $100-200 (the shoes and fitbit type devices)... But that's down in the "buy an expensive toy" kind of territory, like things at Brookstone.

Serious athletes pay thousands for high end bikes, skiis, etc. What about pro athletes?

Re:How much would athletes pay? (1)

TechHSV (864317) | about 4 months ago | (#45727285)

I think $500 is about average for lactate threshold test, not sure how popular they are but i hear about them regularly. This would probably be worth the same to others.

Clippy 2.0 (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 4 months ago | (#45720433)

Can't wait for Clippy 2.0 and all his sensors.

I see you're smoking. Your health insurance has been revoked automatically.
I see you haven't shat in 2 days. I've ordered an enema from Amazon and emailed your office to let them know you'll be out Monday.
I see you're trying to masturbate. Microsoft Bob will read you 50 Shades of Grey to help maintain engorgement of your genitalia.

Wrong Context (4, Interesting)

dave562 (969951) | about 4 months ago | (#45720521)

I think the author is looking at "Healthcare IT" through the wrong lens. The major advances over the next decade are going to come via "big data" (mind the buzzword) and analytics. For example, I was at an EMC presentation the other day and they were making the case for Greenplum (EMC'ized Hadoop / Map Reduce). One of the breakthroughs they were touting was cancer research. There was a woman who went through half a dozen cancer treatments that did not improve her condition. They were able to run models and simulations and ended up finding an off label drug that put the cancer into remission.

Prior to being able to simulate those complex drug interactions, they never would have been able to test an off label drug like that. Now the potential exists to research all sorts of combinations and treatments that would have been computationally impossible five years ago.

Somewhat less cool is the ability to use analytics to track treatment and billing data. The health care system is so inefficient that there is a lot of low hanging fruit there. It only starts showing up at larger scales, once the data sets get bigger. For example, hospitals cannot really correlate the effectiveness of specific treatments for specific conditions versus their peers at other hospitals. Yet with a big enough data set, statements along the lines of, "Last year, 50,000 people were treated for condition X by 50 different hospitals. Of those 50 hospitals, there were 16 different methodologies used. Of those 16, THIS 1 treatment was the most effective, based on these subsequent observations..."

Take a simple use case... the over prescription of antibiotics. With a decent data warehouse and some analytical tools, it will be possible to quickly zero in on cases where antibiotics were inappropriate prescribed. The same thing goes for everything else. "We noticed you are prescribing the brand name medication, when this generic drug is available, and 85% of your peer organizations are using the generic without any loss of efficiency in treatment."

As much as people dislike the government and feel that the Affordable Care Act is a mixed bag, I have a suspicion that when the government gets into really pinching pennies, they are going to drive down the cost of healthcare.

Re:Wrong Context (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45721099)

Because the government has been so successful at driving down costs in all it's other agencies?

Call me skeptical.

Re:Wrong Context (1)

dave562 (969951) | about 4 months ago | (#45721439)

While I am skeptical, I also see the potential for improvement. There is already a lot of M&A activity in the health care space due to shrinking margins and the inability of hospitals and physicians groups to provide services at prices the market can afford. With a single payer like the government getting involved, costs are going to continue going down. Big data and analytics are going to stabilize some of the price fluctuations for procedures. Currently the payout for any given procedure can fluctuate wildly depending on which hospital / clinic it is done in, which doctor performs it, and who is being billed (PPO/HMO or the government).

Healthcare is one of the few areas of the economy where people cannot get accurate estimates of what a given visit / procedure will cost, or what their out of pocket expense will be. That will change.

Re:Wrong Context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45722085)

The government already sets healthcare prices through medicare reimbursement rates, which all the other insurers base their rates on.

Btw, you realize it's illegal for all the medical providers to get together and set a global price to be charged for a service? That's considered anti-competitive price fixing.

Re:Wrong Context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45721441)

I doubt you could monitor all the internet communications for less cost than the NSA! ;)

data from the NHS and Kaiser Permanente (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45722879)

The British NHS serves a population of ~50 million. Kaiser Permanente has about 10 million. Those will be big enough sample sizes to get most of the big data info.

Fuelband inaccuracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720527)

I believe there is an error in this article. In general accelerometers predict upper body motions poorly since they only selectively record the motion of the limb it is attached to. Accelerometers are often calibrated against metabolic systems like VO2 where a regression model is created using raw acceleration data. This type of calibration typically uses locomotion based activities, like running or walking and as a result they don't accurately predict calories for activities that predominantly use upper body motions (like exergames).

Confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720585)

M confused, was this article tounge-in-cheek, I can't tell. Doctors aren't looking at fuelbands or fitbit. They are 'connected fitness', not medical sensors... There are studies showing that people using them are 10% more active than others when they have friends also connected and some competitiveness. Sure they're not accurate, but they're indicative.

Healthcare IT's Achilles' Heel: The Cloud (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 4 months ago | (#45720595)

In theory, sensors attached to our bodies (and appliances such as the fridge) will send a stream of health-related data -- everything from calorie and footstep counts to blood pressure and sleep activity -- to the cloud

No fucking way. My sensors will send my data to my computer in my house where no one else has access to it. Any automated analysis will be done on my computer where I control who can see the results. Any other design is nothing more than putting the band-wagon ahead of patients' interests.

Are the sensors really the problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45720681)

It seems to me that really we as a people have some "big data" privacy concerns to work out first. Just like the plugin obd2 monitor for your car that lets the insurance company know you are behaving (no matter what your driving record is), I think people will have a generally negative take on a refrigerator that tattles on them. Also - what's in it for them? There has to be something there that gets them to buy in, and so far I'm not seeing it. People who are healthnuts are already tracking their stats without the technology. The rest don't care (look at their sweat pants).

meaningful healthcare technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45721007)

Initial clinical tests of this technology have been very positive with regards to the effect on healthcare provided.

http://www.xsensor.com/Foresite

Healthiness (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 4 months ago | (#45721217)

'Despite the hype about data's ability to improve peoples' health.'

Healthiness, here's how:

Eat real food (mostly vegetables and meat/dairy. Not too much grain. Not too much in all).

Get plenty on outdoor activity.

Drink moderate amounts of alcoholic beverages (about 1.5 - 2 times the "recommended levels").

Don't smoke.

Have an engaging and intellectually challenging hobby.

Brush your teeth.

Do fun things.

Data is not the problem (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 4 months ago | (#45721945)

Poor eating habits & inadequate exercise are the problem. But heaven forbid people are responsible for their own actions.

But existing sensors can replace physician visits. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45722623)

For example given the blood pressure monitors one can buy, its just a matter of networking them to a smart phone, likewise blood sugar monitors, heart rate monitors and scales which all exist, its just a networking problem, and as hinted in another post this is where bluetooth might work. If your talking monitoring an elderly person living alone, motion detectors exist, as do water flow detectors, so that for example if there is no motion in a bathroom for 10 hours and no water flow call for help.
The online fridge has been a pipe dream for 20 years and will likely not be widely used for at least 20 more years . If you switch from the pendant model of calling for help to a wrist watch model again most of the tech exists.
Now the dreams of detailed monitoring raise issues, and I agree that I would not want them, and would connect any internet connection that monitored the contents of my fridge to the bit bucket only.

Predictions (1)

J'raxis (248192) | about 4 months ago | (#45723737)

Eventually insurance companies will make use of these sensors required in order for you to purchase their policies (or at least not pay exorbitant rates), and of course they'll penalize you if the sensors detect you living an unhealthy lifestyle, not following your doctor's instructions, and so on. And now that we have compulsory insurance in this "free country," there'll be no escaping being surveilled and coerced like this.

Aren't you glad you supported Obamacare? Say goodbye to yet more of your freedom.

Re:Predictions (1)

jasper160 (2642717) | about 4 months ago | (#45724801)

My wife's insurance now requires her to do a drug, tobacco, alcohol (you would be surprised how many have a trace in the morning) , body mass, and health assessment to keep he insurance. Then rates are adjusted accordingly. Worse she works for a large hospital and they are starting to test patients for those same things to get "advanced" treatments. And the people on state insurance are getting told no for a lot of treatments that are too costly, Remicade ain't cheap.

Needs Improvement (1)

jasper160 (2642717) | about 4 months ago | (#45724745)

A coworker had to wear an activity bracelet for a few days for a health assessment. He put it on his ankle and tapped his foot or bounced his ankle most of the time. The results showed his 5 foot 11 inch (1.8m) and 285 (129kg) Eric Cartman frame was walking/running +7 miles (11km) per day.

The real health problem... (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 4 months ago | (#45725825)

Our society itself is sick. The problem is, thus far, not worded, but is trying to be masked with technology. Our bodies are evolved from billions of years of Nature's advancements with it's own set of bio-logic. Until we learn to utilize that bio-logic for the good of all, we are simply bullshitting ourselves into thinking that we're innocent, and have no wrong-doings in our diet, physical habits, or our thought habits.

Bringing us up to 1927-level med tech (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 4 months ago | (#45727365)

"Tech publications and pundits alike have crowed about the benefits we're soon to collectively reap from healthcare analytics. In theory,sensors attached to our bodies (and appliances such as the fridge) will send a stream of health-related data
— everything from calorie and footstep counts to blood pressure and sleep activity — to the cloud, which will analyze it for insight; doctors and other healthcare professionals will use that data to tailor treatments or advise changes in behavior and diet"

OMG how cutely clueless. Doctors today recommend behavior and diet changes and nobody listens already.

I call shenanigans... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45732745)

I work in healthcare IT. One of the biggest problems we're facing stems from HIPAA, Hi-Tech and AVA. Due to ACA (Obama are), we receive lower reimbursements from Uncle Sam than the ones we used too (that still didn't cover the cost of providing care). The catch 22 is that thanks to compliance with data security, all of our data has to be hosted in the US and only accessed by persons residing in the US. While it is a bit of job security that my job won't go to India, many of the companies we deal with on a daily basis (HP, IBM, Symantec, Dell, Red Hat, etc) run their support and remote services primarily off-shore. Even though there isn't a direct requirement to keep data in the USA, CMS and the OIG made it very clear they will not pursue litigation across the US border and that it will pursue the last entity to have responsibility in the US.

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