nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Trends: More Drug Companies Data Mining Your Durg Usage, Compliance, Diseases

Your pharmacy benefit managers are starting to look at whether you take your medicines as you should, and how much you are at risk of developing diseases.

It sounds confusing, but a pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) can look up whether you refilled your required daily medicine every 90 days.  If it took you longer than that, maybe you didn't take it every day like you were supposed to.  Or maybe you quit taking your meds entirely: if you are hypertensive, you're more likely to have a stroke, and need expensive care...costing the insurance plan more.

Also, PBM's can see when you became diabetic, say, and look back at your other medical and prescribing history to see whether you were at increased risk for diabetes.  That way they can design models for customers that will predict when someone with certain characteristics will be more likely to be sicker, or need more expensive medicines in the future....and cost the insurance plan more.

There's a positive side to this:  your  PBM can call and encourage you to stay on your meds, or offer an easier way to obtain the drugs (by mail, say).

That sounds good, but minimally helpful.  I think it's mostly about cost:  are you gonna be a drag on profits, to the employer plan or the government, depending on who pays the bill.

Other efforts are underway, according to the WSJ Health Blog (Oct 11),
"UnitedHealth’s Ingenix unit sells a diabetes-prediction service; among other things, it uses mole-removal stats to pinpoint people who spend time outdoors and therefore who aren’t likely sedentary."
I can think of other reasons why mole-removal might be high that have nothing to do with exercise and fresh air.

Some people will see this as anonymous information that can help design better patient compliance and assist people in stay on track with their health.

Others are going to see this as another way our personal lives are being monitored and regulated. 

You know the old saying, "If you don't have the freedom to choose poorly, you don't have freedom."

Doc D

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