Predictive Analytics For Healthcare Can Tread Dangerous Ground

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Those of us old enough to remember when smoking was considered “normal” and some people were just “naturally fat” are sometimes amused at all today’s hype about “healthy lifestyles”.  Where all that hype comes from is predictive analytics in healthcare.  Many other authors have touched on and discussed the idea of using analytics to predict health issues, and believe that, to some extent, the analytics of “wellness” can predict if people are likely to become ill.
What is behind most of the propaganda aimed at lifestyle choices these days is the idea of “Holistic wellness”, or Whole Wellness of the mind, body, & soul.  This involves a number of factors within the host to be working in collaboration together to keep them feeling healthy.  When any one of those areas gets out of conformity and begins functioning improperly, then disease is claimed to be the result.
This tying of health to lifestyle choices is the basis of much of the constant bombardment of “health information” we receive, and can even lead to such proposals as Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s edict against large-volume soft drinks.  There is no question about what a healthy lifestyle offers in terms of benefits to an individual, few would dispute that.  However, when such analytics are used to justify gross interference with individual choices, another American right—our individual freedom—is the casualty.  Yes, it is possible to turn out perfect clones of people.  There have been a lot of science fiction books and movies written about those efforts, most of them very scary.  But advanced analytics in healthcare has many positive aspects too.  We must, however guard against their misuse by those who would “design” us to meet their conceptions of society.
If you disagree, let me know by commenting.
–Warren B. Causey

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