I wrote about this before and a while back Dow Jones did file a lawsuit about the use of the data.  If you have ever done any medical billing, then you know up front how all of this works.  Truly as far as some crunched numbers this may offer some insight, but today with the old paradigms of data on a screen and how people look at it and how employees are told to work with data, again the value here with this information to me is very questionable and again leaves room for additional algorithms to be written for decision making processing.  Back in January of this year is when the lawsuit over the data was filed against HHS.image

Dow Jones Files Lawsuit Against HHS To Overturn Ruling To Keep Medicare Physician Compensation Confidential In the False Name of Transparency-Distraction is More Like It

Transparency is one thing but again the numbers and algorithms used for decision are yet another.  Also the AMA took a stand as well with not seeing any value here and then when you get to the doctors, well you know how this will probably go over with them as well with yet one more set of numbers to be held accountable for years back of data entered that has flaws.  I don’t know or have not read if the lawsuit was dropped at this point but might be guessing it has.  In addition who ever received the contract and some big dollars to put the data out there is also unknown. 

We have had several others outside of the government come up with their ratings services too and not too long ago I stumbled on the “flawed data” myself with seeing my former doctor still listed as seeing patients, only problem was the fact that she had been dead for 8 years. 

HealthGrades And Other MD Rating and Referral Sites List “Dead Doctors” on Their MD Information Pages And Even Include the Insurance Plans the “Dead Doctors” Honor

Actually when I communicated with doctors who read here, they looked at their information that was put out via CMS and there was less content but it was found to be a bit more accurate.  Again when I see decisions as such, it really just drives home the need to have key executives in place that understand the ramifications and how data is used today as numbers get skewed for sure.  Today with may layers of algorithms that aggregate with each other it’s difficult to get to the bottom sometimes to find the origins. 

Update on Physician Compare Sites-One MD Reader Found CMS to be More Accurate

I do sometimes chuckle at the press releases and news that comes out with “value” to tell the public that every set of data and it’s analytics process has “value” as it may not.  If a doctor has a bad biller for a couple of years and many errors were made, this will be here too and as I see this, one more nail in the coffin for anyone to go to medical school to become a doctor as who wants all of this?  All data transparency does not necessarily have the value that some may think and I believe that is the case here with delusion for sure.  By the time this shakes out and analytics on steroids come in to play, well good luck on finding any doctor that’s going to be flawless, and that’s the bottom line here and actually too much information that is well known to contain jillions of flaws, well what good is is?  Just because it’s there do we need to analyze it? 

When you fully review the article we have the “sales” pitch with everyone wanting to “jump” at the opportunity, which is kind of funny the way the article was written as yes you will have Medicare contractors, many of which are owned by health insurance companies jump all over it because that is their business and they can find ways to create additional algorithms for profit.  Again crunching numbers and finding some parameters is fine but when you bring this down to individual levels and spin the numbers with certain sets of analytics, you kind of defeat the purpose here. 

Again though, law enforcement and others fighting fraud certainly need access to this information by all means but the “big sale” here to the public and others is clearly diluted. 

Medicare Federal Investigators Getting Algorithms to Analyze And Find Fraud-Good Move as Contractors Efforts Are Weak With Risking Loss Of Transaction Revenue

In my conversations with people from different companies not too long ago one big executive said “yes, it is getting old for an app or algorithm for everything” and that was from a company who write tons of code and creates software…so give that some though as we watch all who are not digitally literate with thinking an algorithm solves all as it does not as healthcare is still the human business.  Again I feel it’s time to pitch a good book here, something that does have value.

“Proofiness–The Dark Side of Mathematical Deception”–Created by Those Algorithms

“Our society is now awash in proofiness. Using a few powerful techniques, thousands of people are crafting mathematical falsehoods to get you to swallow untruths. Advertisers use these techniques to forge numbers to get you to buy their products. Bureaucrats fiddle with data to try to get you to reelect them. Pundits and prophets use phony math to get you to believe predictions that never seem to pan out. Businessmen use bogus numerical arguments to steal your money. Pollsters, pretending to listen to what you have to say, use proofiness to tell you what they want you to believe.

The book is good and explains how numbers are spun and how steroid marketing almost and does in some cases have people believing that 2 plus 2 equals 5.  If you want a good preview of this, listen to this radio broadcast too and it makes a good point in talking about the book and the demented math we have out there today.  The paragraph above says exactly what I have been saying for a couple years, businesses use bogus numerical arguments to steal your money and look at the economy and who has all the money today and you need to look no further.  So it does make you wonder if CMS due to non IT capable figureheads were sucked in with the use of the lawsuit and other tactics out there to put this flawed data out there and sell it beyond the value it really has.  Numbers don’t lie, but people do….

“Numbers Don’t Lie, But People Do”–Radio Interview from Charles Siefe–Journalists Take Note, He Addresses How Marketing And Bogus Statistics Are Sources of Problems That Mislead the Public & Government

Again I don’t know if the lawsuit had anything to do with this decision but just that fact that it existed makes one think there could have been some influence here as the more complicated decision making gets, it allows for more analytics to be created and the spinning of numbers for sure, and that goes on all around us every day.  Listen in below for 30 minutes and see what you think to this radio broadcast from a few months ago.

Play Interview Via QuickTime                                Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3

Back in August of 2009 I made a post and it somewhat looks like we are on our way to create a government department of such, a department of algorithms to verify the math and remove some of the “spun data” I think as there’s a lot of it out there by all means. 

“Department of Algorithms – Do We Need One of These to Regulate Upcoming Laws?

When you begin using machine learning and aggregate “spun data” into formulas where you may not be able to get back to ground zero, the insanity begins and thus so having executives that are just figureheads without any background in this area, they get snowed and buy in to a lot of deception, again as this is sold with the doctor claim information being marketed and put out there as a tool with “value” with tons of flawed data, it is what it is and sad that we have people making decisions that are not wise enough to see some of this. 

Machine Learning Software Working Behind the Scenes Should Move With Caution in Healthcare-Writing the Unreadable With Rogue Algorithms With No Human Intervention

Another post I made a while back too and this flew all over some major publications too and I made it in jest to a degree, but again those who do not understand math very well seem to think that it still is a 100% methodology for proving accuracy and thus so you really can’t read any where today where someone is not pitching their algorithms to find value and yes there are valuable tools out there but again with the series of events that has transpired here and the marketing, I don’t see this data exposure doing much for anyone other than allowing more numbers to be “spun” for additional profits. 

Data Addiction and Abuse –The Up and Coming Next 12 Step Program Is On the Horizon–Side Effects Include Lack Of Data Quality, Integrity And Spasmodic Algorithms

So when you get down to the bottom of this, does this data contain any real value for consumers, probably not and just more flawed data to sort through to make decisions and add it into the glut of what is already marketed out there as a tool and this I just one more data set that can be spun for profit, as when you read the article it states that this will help you “save money”…and so on…great steroid marketing in my opinion and today it is getting hard to decipher what is really a tool and what is glut and items as such substantiates the frustrations of the Occupy movement.  How can you fight an algorithm you can’t see, touch or feel but only get in touch with “cookie cutter” employees who are directed to use the data in the way they are told by the companies they work for.  Below is a video I have used several times here and if you have not seen it, listen in.  Many major news channels have promoted it too, but funny as I think they only viewed it as being popular as the geeks of the world, including Kevin Slavin completely understand the spinning of data and nice that he did a presentation as such to help educate the rest of the world, that wants some answers. 

How Algorithms Shape our World

Again these are my opinions here with having been a coder at one time and you can write clean and good algos or one can be sucked in to the other side, just like anything in life, the choice is there and it works in the world of algorithms around us every day.  Hedge Funds hire a ton of programmers to spin and work data for their investments all the time and with record profits, they have the money to do this.

Again, the value here, minimal and corporate America now has some new data to spin is how I see this and it further erodes the doctor/patient relationship with throwing some new monkey wrenches into the process and again shows the need to have executives that run CMS and other government healthcare agencies to have some IT in their background because we get just this type of activity as seen here with little value and creates a much more difficult world to make a decision and feel good about it.  The new person at CMS certainly has her job cut out and again to me this is a big example on how big business snows the digital illiterates with thinking that this data is going to solve any real problems.  It’s a snow job. 

As a matter of fact I’ll add another opinion here of mine with all the “taxpayer” data that big corporations have free access to buy and sell.  We have a government it seems that is oblivious as to what’s really happening here.  The data is free for the taking out there and corporate America is doing just that.  I read the other day that High Frequency Trading and Hedge Funds are outpacing Facebook in the consumption and analytics of all of this and they get the information for free and make billions. I know you can’t create laws to govern how people write code and use analytics, but you could sure license and tax corporations that are using free web information to build even bigger profit centers off the taxpayers back with the data. Again, maybe we don’t have the leadership in executive positions to see this reality and looking at a solution to bring something back to the middle class, license and tax these corporations for using “free taxpayer data” that is out there, it’s only fair.

Privacy Wanted–So Let’s Require Those Who Sell Web Data to Register and Tax the Transactions and Publicly Disclose Who They Sell To With a Federal Registry

Now after reading the information here with putting Medicare claim information out there, does this not make sense or was it the lawsuit that pushed this forward?  It does make you wonder if CMS and the lack of folks with IT in executive positions really took on a snow job.  It’s a good way to begin shifting some money back to the middle class too.  I wrote another post called “Occupy Algorithms” which was part of a part series here at the Quack and with transparency, let’s fix the math as I see that as an urgent need, much more so that this data base of Medicare claims open for the public and insurer analytics.  The link below is part 5 and there are links to the prior posts within. 

“Occupy Algorithms”–”The Attack of the Killer Algorithms Part 5” - Nothing Will Improve Until Audits and Actions Takes Place To Correct Formulas Built for Profit Only by Corporations And We Battle Back With Math

Nothing will happen until new code runs through those servers as IT Infrastructure runs almost all processes today in business and government.

There are more than just this blog that are speaking out today about bad math and the link below is a doctor who talks about how clinical trial data gets skewed too, again folks sucked in with analytics.  The doctor really does a good job explaining this and presents a certificate issued to his “cat” to make the point so you do wonder how many “cats” have these today <grin>.

Bad Science and Bad Analytics That Misleads–TED Video Takes on Advertising on Steroids and Danger of Mis-Matched Analytics And Distortion of Clinical Trials (Video)

So we can sit and view lawmakers in session playing solitaire on their computers and jumping around on Facebook, sad to see that is what lawmaking has become in the US and big business just keeps on moving with numbers and algorithms for profit.  In my opinion a really good snow job was sold to CMS to create value here as all we have done is created data for corporate America to profit further. 

Besides that, how many consumers have “time” to even mess with this?  Not many and again I do wonder how the lawsuit did affect this decision as it’s big business again with mighty big stick with selling value, knowing the data they have access to now will generate more corporate profits.  Consumers are too busy with chasing down so much old data from years past to non-incriminate themselves with all the flawed data that is out there and the more healthcare payers and credit companies report, the more the consumer has to run and fix it. 

Sure there may be some issues that need attention but if you read recently how credit agencies are going to compound and bring in more data such as your timely payments of utilities and cell phone bills, then you know the race is on to keep consumers chasing and fixing flawed data that they did not input and again we don’t seem to have enough digital literacy in government to “get this” and see reality, so thus the middle class is further sunk and the marketing of the Medicare claim data just add more fuel to the fire and soon everyone will have credit and healthcare blemishes coming out their ears.  I feel sorry for Marilyn Tavenner, the new director of CMS as it’s a no win job and she will be eaten alive with analytics without any IT in her background as big business moves in for more profiteering but the decisions made affect all of us and we are the ones who really suffer with executives as such when they are chewed up an spit out by big business.  BD 

Picking a specialist for a delicate medical procedure like a heart bypass could get a lot easier in the not-too-distant future.
The government announced Monday that Medicare will finally allow its extensive claims database to be used by employers, insurance companies and consumer groups to produce report cards on local doctors -- and improve current ratings of hospitals.

By analyzing masses of billing records, experts can glean such critical information as how often a doctor has performed a particular procedure and get a general sense of problems such as preventable complications.
Doctors will be individually identifiable through the Medicare files, but personal data on their patients will remain confidential. Compiled in an easily understood format and released to the public, medical report cards could become a powerful tool for promoting quality care.

(big time marketing statement below-warning)

Medicare officials say they expect nonprofit research groups in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and other states to jump at the chance to use the data. With 47 million beneficiaries and virtually every doctor and hospital in the country participating, Medicare's database is considered the mother lode of health care information.



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