Analyzing health data to change the way doctors practice medicine

Global security company Northrop Grumman is collaborating with the University of Maryland Baltimore County to analyze health data as part of a five-year program, as announced earlier this year. The program’s goal is to utilize health trends found in large populations to create specific and effective treatments for those suffering from widespread ailments such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

The National Science Foundation, which funds big data-analytics science and technology projects, is offering $600,000 in grants to the project. Northrop and UMBC already have a cybersecurity partnership; the tools previously used to investigate cyberthreats will now be used to study decades’ worth of medical information stored on electronic health records.

Yelena Yesha, the leader of the project and a professor of computer science at the university, says that information will be pulled from both public and private databases. Records will be used to help doctors practice precision medicine, which is the treatment of people based on their specific genetic makeups. In order to gather such large quantities of genetic data, the project will use a Google-designed cloud-computing platform. Both Northrop and the defense contractor Lockheed Martin foresee precision medicine to be widely practiced in the future.

Article via The Washington Post, April 14, 2015

Photo: Over 500 doctors have completed a three year specialization in family medicine via World Bank Photo Collection [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Hackings in healthcare, education, and government

Recent hackings have been found to especially target three main platforms: healthcare, education, and government. This has compromised the security of healthcare provider Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, the Cal State University System, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

It was discovered last week that over 10 million people are at risk due to a Excellus computer system hacking that’s been occurring since December of 2013. It doesn’t appear that the hackers stole or utilized any important personal information, though they were able to access and view customer names, birth dates, social security numbers, and financial claims. The attack was one of the worst 20 breaches in healthcare of all time. The hacking also parallels recent incidences at Anthem, Office of personnel Management, Sony and Ashley Madison. In all cases, the attacks were committed by people disguised as employees, using stolen credentials to gain access to corporate networks.

Roughly 80,000 students from the Cal State University System lost general information after enrolling in a class on sexual harassment. Their names, numbers, emails, gender, race, and relationship status were provided to a contractor as part of a program on sexual harassment. The contractor, “We End Violence” was hacked, as reported in the Los Angeles Times earlier this month.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s computer systems were attacked 159 times between 2010 and 2014. Officials declined to comment, however, on the nature of what was accessed by hackers or whether any foreign governments were responsible.

Article via ECT News NetworkSeptember 16, 2015

Photo: Longmont Power and Communications-3 via You Belong in Longmont [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Insurance startup uses data to offer personalized healthcare

Clover Health, a San Francisco insurance startup, is using data to change the landscape of modern healthcare. The company examines insurance claims from a person’s medical history to offer directed care to high-risk patients, especially seniors.

In an equity round led by First Round Capital, Clover raised over $100 million in funding. The company looks to replace the larger, more conventional Medicare health insurance companies that don’t currently analyze data to offer targeted healthcare.

Clover accesses medical information only available to insurance providers who collect claims, like lab tests and radiology results. Using this information, Clover’s software models identify patient issues and trends, allowing the company’s staff of nurses and social workers the opportunity to intervene. This falls in line with one of the company’s Health goals to reduce the number of visits customers take in hospitals.

Clover Health’s CTO, Kris Gale, describes the company model: “At the core we’re using data and software to build clinical profiles of people, identify gaps in care, and fill those gaps in care. We have a small team that will do targeted interventions to drive improved health outcomes of people. Every in-patient hospital admission we can prevent by filling these gaps in care, this ends up being a positive for us.”

Article via TechCrunch; September 19, 2015

Photo: Child receives ear exam via World Bank Photo Collection [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]