How healthy is data driven healthcare

Over the past few years, the ethics of data use, particularly when related to big data analytics, has been a recurring theme.

Most recently, I had a look at the cost of the Facebook data scandal. In this post, I moved away from a purely ethics driven argument to also look at the commercial impact of poor ethics choices. A similar theme, was discussed nearly four year’s ago, in this case focusing on Target’s invasion of privacy of their customers.

In a recent post on, John Batelle discusses the Tragedy of the Healthcare Commons.

IN this post, John examines the use of personal data such as marital status, education levels, , shopping patterns, and even social media likes to build risk profiles that may drive up your insurance premiums.. His post was inspired by post on Probublica –  Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Details About You — And It Could Raise Your Rates

Of course, these posts refer to the United States, but there is no doubt that this is a global phenomenon.

The two articles referenced make an interesting read, and it is not my intention to repeat everything that they say here.

However, at the core concern raised is similar to that raised in my two posts above:

Any data driven model needs to find the balance between ethics (the common good) and profitability

John concludes his article with this paragraph: “if we fail to re-architect the core framework of how data flows through society – if we continue to favor the rights of corporations to determine how value flows to individuals absent the balancing weight of the public commons – we’re heading down a path of social ruin. ProPublica’s warning on health insurance is proof that the problem is not limited to Facebook alone. It is a problem across our entire society. It’s time we woke up to it.”

John promises that he will be adding to the story in future posts. – however, in closing I would like to refer you to this related past from two years ago – Data governance and the tragedy of the commons

Ultimately, data ethics must be a consideration for both your data strategy and data governance plans.

What are your thoughts? Are ethics driving your use of data?



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