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With 'Obamacare' Kicking In, Microsoft Sees a Health-Data Windfall 201

Posted by timothy
from the in-the-cloud dept.
curtwoodward writes "Now that President Obama's federal health care reform is past its major political hurdles — and with renewed focus on out-of-control costs in healthcare — companies that sell 'big data' software are licking their chops. The reason: Healthcare has huge piles of information that is being used in new ways, to track patient admissions, spending, and much more. From hospitals to insurance companies, they'll all need new ways of crunching those numbers. It's basically an entirely new field that will dwarf the spending growth in traditional data-heavy industries like finance, retail and marketing, a Microsoft regional sales GM says."
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With 'Obamacare' Kicking In, Microsoft Sees a Health-Data Windfall

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  • "Big Data" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hsmith (818216) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @09:27AM (#43053591)
    Is the absolute worst fucking buzzword out there right now. It is a great way to figure out someone is a complete idiot right off the bat.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by John Jorsett (171560)

      Is the absolute worst fucking buzzword out there right now. It is a great way to figure out someone is a complete idiot right off the bat.

      I usually employ the standard of whether somebody is capable of making a point without resorting to profanity.

      • by JustOK (667959)

        Yet you used profanity in your post.

      • Re:"Big Data" (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @02:00PM (#43055055)
        Profanity is a means of emphasis. Just like underlining in written text. However, if your brain is so tainted by American puritanism, i.e. if you got a fucking stick up your arse so far that it titillates your uvula, you might miss the bloody point.
      • I'm generally more interested in the merit of the point rather than their choice of flowery language. Substance over style, if you will.
      • reI usually employ the standard of whether somebody is capable of making a point without resorting to profanity.
        .
        I agree with you whole-heartedly. There may be occasions to use profanity or outbursts of shouting, but those occasions seem to be those which require being intimidating or acting like a rabid dog in order to get the other side to back down. Profanity does not have a place in normal discussion, argument, or debate.
        .
        As a bonus point, I think that "cloud computing" is the worst buzzword out th
        • I think that "cloud computing" is the worst buzzword out there.

          Given that it's two words I'd be tempted to agree.

    • Re:"Big Data" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by epiphani (254981) <epiphani@TIGERdal.net minus cat> on Saturday March 02, 2013 @10:40AM (#43053847)

      I'm biased, as my entire job is building those systems so many people refer to as "big data" - but the marketing is terrible. The technology itself is quite good, and makes a huge amount of sense. The problem is, companies traditionally used to doing data stuff for large corporations (ie, EMC, Oracle) are pissing themselves. This destroys their entire business model - so they're flooding the market with crap trying to avoid losing absolute boatloads of money and accounts to these technologies.

      Talk about big data with those companies all you like, and they won't mention the actual reason hadoop and the like are a big deal:
      1- It's all open source. Don't wanna pay? Self support.
      2- It's all designed to run on the cheapest commodity hardware you can find. Why buy appliances with huge markups?

      This has companies used to huge margins on appliances and software shitting themselves. They tried FUD with single point of failure stuff, and now that that's solved, they're stuffing infiniband into custom rack designs and saying how much better it is. Meanwhile you can buy 4x the gear for that same price.

      Is it a buzzword? Yup. Is it saturated with marketing? Yup. Is it a stupid idea? Hell no.

      • by sfcat (872532)
        Guess keeping your data around and intact isn't a high priority for you. Those "big data" systems you mention aren't ACID compliant. Hope you never have to find out just how foolish you Hadoop folk are being.

        I work for a "big data" company too...but we are a bit different than most (streaming SQL), not trying to replace DBs and data warehouses as this going to get someone fired when they learn the hard way what ACID is.

    • No. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Saturday March 02, 2013 @10:41AM (#43053849) Homepage Journal

      Is the absolute worst fucking buzzword out there right now

      The worst buzzword out there is, without a doubt, "Obamacare". This clusterfuck of an industry bailout bill has pretty well no resemblance to health care reform, or to any of what Obama actually wanted to do.

      It is a great way to figure out someone is a complete idiot right off the bat.

      br? That is also true about people who use the word "Obamacare".

      • This clusterfuck of an industry bailout bill has pretty well no resemblance to health care reform, or to any of what Obama actually wanted to do.

        I know somebody who works in pharma.
        It's certainly likely that 'the suits' were lining their wallets, and virtually guaranteed that our Ruling Class [amazon.com] is out to shear us all after the sheep fashion.
        One is curious as to what you think "Obama actually wanted to do". My guess is Single-payer [wikipedia.org], that smashing British success story [wikipedia.org].
        Because, hey, if we've bought enough of

        • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by sesshomaru (173381) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @11:34AM (#43054165) Journal

          Obama certainly didn't want to do single-payer, nationalized health-care, a "robust public option," (whatever the Hell that means, since if it was any good the for profit healthcare system would cease to be in an number of years, so they might as well go to single-payer) or any of those things. Obama is a neoliberal, he'd never propose anything that wasn't a cash grab for someone (the Republicans are also neoliberals, but they have that Southern Strategy gunking them up that means they can't be as fleet of foot as a neoliberal Democrat like Obama). His healthcare plan was basically written by the Heritage Foundation, not generally known as a bastion of socialism.

          Basically, in countries that are sensible, they understand that healthcare ought to be like fire and police departments. (Whereas in neoliberal Hells like the United States, they'd like to make the police and fire departments more like our wonderful healthcare system. They're already doing it to the post office and the school. And it's bipartisan.)

          It's not capitalism, it's Thatcherism (oh, and you know what country has suffered under the yoke of Thatcherism for year? I'll give you a hint, she was Prime Minister of the UK.). There Is No Alternative. (I'm looking forward to our coming Greek style healthcare, myself, though in many ways we already have it.)

          • by khallow (566160)

            Obama is a neoliberal,

            You might as well claim Obama is a courtier of the Seelie court, if you ignore Obama's actual ideology and actions.

            he'd never propose anything that wasn't a cash grab for someone

            That's not what neoliberalism means. Basically, it's a negative connotation label for free market or laissez faire-economy beliefs or advocates.

            For example, the US health care legislation, supported by Obama, of which an aspect is discussed here is heavily anti-market and high regulation. It requires insurers to cover various things and forces them to ignore preexisting conditions (interfer

          • "Greek style healthcare"?

            Taking it in the ass?

            • by khallow (566160)
              Is this the same Greece that screwed up so badly that it's being forced to take on austerity measures or leave the EU? When I heard the phrase "Greek style healthcare", I admit that I had a bit of pessimism about the future of whatever country sesshomaru is a member of, assuming he ever gets his way.
    • In recent years we had SOA, SOA is dead, Cloud, SOA in the Cloud. A lot of software architecture topics. Good for funding software engineering faculties. However, the database people had not that much new things to sell. Ok there is no-SQL DBs and graph-databases, but to really sell them, you need a new buzzword. And big data is superb. All the problems which where solved for small and normal data, can now reselled for big data.

      Actually the is something new, it is the complexity of the data storage and its

    • by i_ate_god (899684)

      I disagree. It accurately describes an entire class of software whose sole goals in life is to make managing huge volumes of data easier.

      Unlike the word "cloud" however, which describes absolutely nothing at all.

    • in the 80s and 90s. Here we are in the 2010s and I see doctors that diagnose with computers and closet making companies that replaced carpenters with a CNC machine and a tape measure.

      Big Data might be a buzz word, but it's real. Computers have been fast enough to crunch large amounts of data for a while now, but you needed either a lot of money or a brilliant programmer for both to do it. Cheap Linux clusters and Hadoop for free changes all that. Code monkeys have enough power at their disposal to do num
      • by hoggoth (414195)

        > We had 2000 years of dark ages where people basically did nothing

        Hmmm this time period overlaps with something else that happened over the same 2,000 years. 2,013 to be exact.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 02, 2013 @09:56AM (#43053679)

    Rail against the out-of-control government that gives us the TSA, the Patriot Act, and summarily executes US citizens.

    Then cheer it on when it takes over 1/6 of the US economy?

    And you claim to care about your rights and freedoms?

    WHY THE FUCK DO YOU WANT TO GIVE THAT OVERWEENING GOVERNMENT THAT MUCH *MORE* POWER?!?!?!

    • by isorox (205688) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @10:24AM (#43053775) Homepage Journal

      Rail against the out-of-control government that gives us the TSA, the Patriot Act, and summarily executes US citizens.

      Then cheer it on when it takes over 1/6 of the US economy?

      And you claim to care about your rights and freedoms?

      WHY THE FUCK DO YOU WANT TO GIVE THAT OVERWEENING GOVERNMENT THAT MUCH *MORE* POWER?!?!?!

      UK Economy: $2.4 trillion
      UK Heath expenditure: under $200 billion.

      That's 1/12th of the economy, sounds like you overspend on your health system. Shouldn't the competition keep prices down?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Rail against the out-of-control government that gives us the TSA, the Patriot Act, and summarily executes US citizens.

        Then cheer it on when it takes over 1/6 of the US economy?

        And you claim to care about your rights and freedoms?

        WHY THE FUCK DO YOU WANT TO GIVE THAT OVERWEENING GOVERNMENT THAT MUCH *MORE* POWER?!?!?!

        UK Economy: $2.4 trillion
        UK Heath expenditure: under $200 billion.

        That's 1/12th of the economy, sounds like you overspend on your health system. Shouldn't the competition keep prices down?

        First, US government involvement has historically lead to anything but keeping prices down.

        Second, since most US health care is through private insurance and through private transactions, the US population basically spends that much on health care for the simple reason they want to.

        Third, Obamacare is fundamentally dysfunctional. It's two main goals of greater health care coverage and lower cost are diametrically opposed. It's pretty damn impossible to increase demand without increasing cost. Of course,

        • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @11:52AM (#43054265)

          Bullshit.

          They only appear diametrically opposed if you're a moron. The reality is that people will be forced to pay into the system if they have the money rather than waiting until they get sick to get insurance so they'll at least be contributing something rather than being overwhelmed by bills and declaring bankruptcy. What's more, we're already starting to see checks mailed out to people whose health insurer charged too much for premiums. My insurer was pretty good at estimating the real costs so my check was pretty small. But for other people the checks were a lot larger.

          Obamacare also mandates that insurance companies pay for preventative care, you know the care that prevents serious and expensive conditions from occurring or at least reduces the likelihood of such conditions occurring. The US pays a crap load of money for preventable diseases to people who haven't been able to afford coverage and have to wait until they have a serious illness before seeking help or worry about whether or not their trip to the hospital for a possible heart attack is going to be covered.

          As far as the historical, that's not the government that's because morons like you vote for corporatists with no interest in keeping costs down if it means corporate interests and the rich suffer. Every other country that's gone with universal healthcare has lower costs than we do, if we screw that up, you can blame the GOP for corporate welfare.

          • by Shark (78448)

            You might want to study the economics of this a little further. Forcing people to pay into the system does not bring costs down, it brings revenues up. I live in such a system where everyone who can afford to is forced to pay. More than half the government's budget is now on health care and for some odd reason, all that money gets soaked up by an ever expanding layer of management. Services have deteriorated to the point where it's often cheaper to just pay for a patient to go get care int he US. The f

          • by khallow (566160)

            Obamacare also mandates that insurance companies pay for preventative care, you know the care that prevents serious and expensive conditions from occurring or at least reduces the likelihood of such conditions occurring.

            I wonder how much of that preventative care actually is. Medicine is a field notorious for being very difficult to figure out costs and benefits of actions and their consequences.

            If preventative care really had that solid benefit to it, then why aren't most insurers funding it already? They aren't dumb. My take is that preventative care is great for finding expensive problems (a major turnoff for insurers) and not so great at actually helping us live longer or cheaper.

          • by iccaros (811041)
            I call bullshit, due to new laws the company I work for changed us all to high deductible insurance. I now pay 250 a paycheck for healthcare and the insurance company does not have to pay a dime until I spend $3,000 out of pocket, so yes a small few get some help, but a large group who sacrificed a lot to ensure our families had something get pushed to the edges, I get a health savings account, but I have to save $3,000 before I can see a doctor with out it costing me more than that. As for paying for preve
    • Government can and does some really bad shit.

      Government can and does some good shit.

      I cheer for it when it does the good shit, and complain about it when it does bad shit. Sounds perfectly logical to me.

  • by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @09:56AM (#43053681)
    What big health care data? I'm not joking when I saw that the last place I would ever trust sensitive or critical information is a hospital. Hospitals have the least amount of data production and verification imaginable, I would be very skeptical about tracking data from any healthcare system because frankly it will always be incorrect.

    Over the last 10 years I've had MANY MANY files that have gone missing, been lost, been misplaced and just plan gone from the health care system. In one case after losing the same MRI test three times they also lost the paper copies! Now I don't know a lot of industries that can lose the same work multiple times in both digital and non digital form.

    Clearly I'm left with a very different out look on the health care system and data management and security, So as for collecting big data, that just wont work, that data isn't secure enough inside the system to account for anything. It would be like running a survey of 10,000 people where you only return 7,000 surveys, the data will never work because your missing to much important data.
    • by geekmux (1040042) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @10:22AM (#43053761)

      What big health care data? I'm not joking when I saw that the last place I would ever trust sensitive or critical information is a hospital...

      What big health care data you ask? The data that your government (also known as your new healthcare provider) is going to demand, that's what data.

      From how fast you drive to how much fattening butter (in grams, weighed by the smart container that reported it to your smart fridge), expect data to be collected everywhere. Isn't it ironic how the hipsters think all this new smart tech is really "cool" today, without even thinking of the consequences in the future.

      And expect that data to be used against you, to charge you more for the lifestyle you want.

      As far as security goes, no comment when it comes to our government. InfoSec seems to be the least of their concerns, especially when it's your data.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Murdoch5 (1563847)
        They can dig everything they want up on me. Personally living in Canada it's a little different up here, but we'll follow most moves the US makes. The health care sector can dig up what ever they want on me and they can even publish it for all I care. People in general are way to concerned with privacy, privacy is dead! It's been dead for a long time, if someone wants to find you they will. If someone wants your records they can get them and if someone want to wipe you out they can do that. People
        • by shia84 (1985626)

          Privacy is only dead to those who have given up on it, e.g. you.

          While the current technical possibilities make it easy for some entities to invade your privacy, it is not a technical question at all. Popularise and pass laws (remember that democracy thingie...) that punish someone who violates your expectation of privacy. I know this sounds outlandish over there, because it probably is, but where I live (Switzerland) both the government and companies have to tread very carefully with peoples data. For examp

        • by geekmux (1040042)

          They can dig everything they want up on me. Personally living in Canada it's a little different up here, but we'll follow most moves the US makes. The health care sector can dig up what ever they want on me and they can even publish it for all I care...

          Ah, just to make things clear, I don't pay my ever-increasing medical premiums with "publications". I pay it with cash.

          You let me know how much you give a shit about your medical privacy when your individual insurance premiums are adjusted every 3 months based on them digging up "everything they want" on you. Now tell me why they wouldn't do this. Ever.

          Or perhaps you won't get that job because the healthcare data warehouse was hacked last year, and your name showed up on the wrong disease list in a Googl

          • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
            My medical insurance is provided by my government at least in Canada and I can't be denied a job because of my medical history. If that is how it works in the US then I feel sorry for that extremely broken system but hear in Canada we get a decent standard of health care for free and the rest is usually given by your employeer. Medical history aside we get treated pretty well up here.
            • And it costs half the price per capita of US healthcare.

        • The European Union begs to differ.

  • by flayzernax (1060680) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @10:07AM (#43053709)

    You'll lobby the government to update everything to metro and get a big nice juicy contract.

  • by PerMolestiasEruditio (1118269) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @10:18AM (#43053745)

    US system is FUBAR, 50million uninsured, huge numbers of medical induced bankruptcies (for the heinous crime of being unlucky), lower life expectancy.

    Nationalised single payer with optional extra private coverage is demonstrably cheaper and has (on average) better outcomes. Anyone with half a brain would get behind establishing it in the US. Oh and while you are at it do something about malpractice tort reform - the major cause of excessive medical costs.

    • On the other hand, the US also spends twice as much on our education system and gets worse results. Maybe this country is suffering from an excess of money and a shortage of brains... it is possible that they could convert to some other healthcare system as you suggest without actually saving money or getting better results.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In the UK the figure is 9%. Everyone has access to healthcare free at the point of use ( tax funded ). The downside is that when we reach the age of 30 our crystals glow red and we have to report to the NHS death panels.

    • Nationalised single payer with optional extra private coverage is demonstrably cheaper and has (on average) better outcomes. Anyone with half a brain would get behind establishing it in the US

      You are absolutely correct on that.

      Unfortunately you have missed the fact that such a thing is officially labeled as "uncontrollable, completely nutbar, crazy-ass Stalin-esque Hitler-loving Castro-backing communist socialist fascism!". So while it makes sense to a sensible person, the dominant conservative narrative here tells people that it is a terrible, terrible idea that should never enter the discussion. Even our allegedly "liberal" president took the idea off the table about 12 seconds into the

    • by westlake (615356)

      Oh and while you are at it do something about malpractice tort reform - the major cause of excessive medical costs.

      No matter how thin you slice it...

      Life Expectancy at Birth by Race and Sex, 1930---2010 [infoplease.com]

      White Male, Born 1930, 58 Years
      Black Male, Born 1930, 47 Years

      White Male, Born 2010, 76 Years
      Black Male, Born 2010, 72 Years

      -----

      US Census Data

      US Population 1930, 122,775,046
      US Population 2010, 308,745,538
      US Population 2020, 337 million (est.)

      "In 2019, when the last of the baby boomers (those born between 1949 and 1964) have reached age 55, nearly twenty-nine percent of the total United States population will be age 55 and older." Source: Government Accountability Office, "Older Workers: Demographic Trends Post Challenges for Employers and Workers," 2001

      -----

      The time isn't far off when we will have 100 million seniors to care for.

      Then there is the problem of providing medical care to the poor of all ages. The politics

  • Uses of 'big data' (Score:5, Informative)

    by Enry (630) <enryNO@SPAMwayga.net> on Saturday March 02, 2013 @10:33AM (#43053815) Journal

    i work at a major medical research institution. A few years ago, our CIO showed us a graph of data they'd gone through showing a large spike in heart attacks in otherwise healthy men. The spike then dropped a few years later. Normally someone wouldn't be looking at this data, so it wasn't until after the spike was gone that this was investigated. Turned out that Vioxx had been put on the market about a year before the spike started, and was pulled off the market about 6 months or so before the spike dropped off.

    Getting massive amounts of data (anonymized of course) can show trends in public health that can give us a lot of information and save lives and money.

    (and yes, I hate the term 'big data'. No sense of scale of how big it is.)

  • by somarilnos (2532726) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @11:12AM (#43054021)
    Hospitals aren't buying into software because of "Obamacare" (or the Affordable Care Act, if brevity isn't your thing). Hospitals are buying into software because of the HITECH act, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). They're getting more Medicare reimbursement for showing meaningful use of their software, so that's the trigger, not the ACA.
    • Also, why is Microsoft explicitly being mentioned? There's a lot of established players in Healthcare software that are getting much more out of this windfall. Microsoft barely scratches the surface, and they're, quite frankly, not significant in this particular market, unless you're counting the machines running their OS. Look for EHR (Electronic Health Record) vendor market share on Google, and you're not even going to see them mentioned. You're going to see Epic, Meditech, Allscripts, McKesson, Cerne
      • by khallow (566160)

        Also, why is Microsoft explicitly being mentioned?

        Maybe because the guy returns his calls? That's how a lot of the people who get quoted over and over got where they are.

      • Go ahead and google and wikipedia-read Google Health [wikipedia.org] to see how even Google couldn't figure out how to make money out of health care records. There are certain restrictions (HIPAA?, though Google claimed that as a "non-covered entity" that provided a service which people opted in to, they didn't have to follow HIPAA guidelines:
        According to its Terms of Service, Google Health is not considered a "covered entity" under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996; thus, HIPAA privacy law
  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Saturday March 02, 2013 @11:18AM (#43054071)

    If you want "big data" you think IBM, you don't think Microsoft.

    • by jader3rd (2222716)

      If you want "big data" you think IBM, you don't think Microsoft.

      But mentioning a company to rail against, besides Microsoft, won't get you on /..

  • by Press2ToContinue (2424598) * on Saturday March 02, 2013 @01:12PM (#43054713)

    (opens coat)

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.

Working...