It turns out that those boring, confusing insurance claims are a great crowd-sourcing resource for health information. En masse, they can tell you how frequently an obstetrician-gynecologist does a Cesarean section or whether an orthopedic surgeon is really experienced at performing hip replacements.
Amino, a new consumer-targeted health care app, mines insurance claims from 188 million people to tally such trends. That's big data: 3.9 billion claims filed by every practicing physician in the country—all 900,000 of them—since 2012. After de-identifying personal details, Amino spits out information that can help people choose a doctor with more precision. Ask the app for a breast cancer doctor in your area, for example, and it will provide you with a list from which you can drill deeper to find out how many mammogram screenings they do, how many biopsies they perform based on those screenings and how many operations like mastectomy or lumpectomy they perform.
If you have a less common condition, Amino can help find nearby doctors who have treated similar patients, says Amino’s founder David Vivero. “We’re using the data to help people learn from the decisions of 188 million people and their doctors over the course of the last few years,” Vivero says. “It captures what happens in the doctor’s office, the clinic and the lab.”
This digestion of a large database of insurance claims is only the latest example of the popularity of health care analytics, which makes sense of the reams of health care data generated by doctors, hospitals and everyone who sports a wearable monitor that records their heart rate, steps and more. Analysts predict that the big data market in health will balloon to $10-20 billion by 2020.
Amino’s first service of finding doctors will be free. Hospitals, insurers and employers may sign up to license the data, which Amino will further customize. Employers may want to know, for example, which health care fees (like obesity or heart-related services) are costing them the most; they can then create programs to address those conditions to bring costs down. Insurers may also look to see which physicians are relying on more expensive therapies and which are more cost conscious.
Eventually, Vivero hopes to mine the data in more sophisticated ways for consumers, too. For nearly every disease or condition, he says, “you can see the journey from diagnosis to the treatment for that diagnosis to produce a profile of what’s happening in doctor’s offices and hospitals across America.” That may help you to make sense of your own options when discussing your health with your doctor.