Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Health and Privacy at Work

Rachel Emma Silverman, Wall Street Journal:

Employee wellness firms and insurers are working with companies to mine data about the prescription drugs workers use, how they shop and even whether they vote, to predict their individual health needs and recommend treatments. […]

Credit scores can also suggest whether an individual will be readmitted to the hospital following an illness, he says. Those with lower credit scores may be less likely to fill prescriptions and show up for follow-up appointments, adds Dr. Greenspun.

Welltok Inc., whose clients include Colorado’s state employees, has found that people who vote in midterm elections tend to be healthier than those who skip them, says Chris Coloian, the firm’s chief solutions officer.

Given enough data, one can make virtually anything statistically relevant. The difference here is that the companies responsible for this are digging into extremely sensitive data and trying to inform employees’ health decisions. Like this:

To determine which employees might soon get pregnant, Castlight recently launched a new product that scans insurance claims to find women who have stopped filling birth-control prescriptions, as well as women who have made fertility-related searches on Castlight’s health app.

That data is matched with the woman’s age, and if applicable, the ages of her children to compute the likelihood of an impending pregnancy, says Jonathan Rende, Castlight’s chief research and development officer. She would then start receiving emails or in-app messages with tips for choosing an obstetrician or other prenatal care. If the algorithm guessed wrong, she could opt out of receiving similar messages.

Creepy.

Note: I’m linking to the Google redirect; if it doesn’t work, try the original article link.