The promise and peril of healthcare forecasting.
Health plans and physician groups increasingly use sophisticated tools to predict individual patient outcomes. Such analytics will accelerate as US medicine enters the digital age. Promising applications of forecasting include better targeting of disease management as well as innovative patient care approaches such as personalized health insurance and clinical decision support systems. In addition, stakeholders will use predictions to advance their organizational agendas, and unintended consequences could arise. Forecasting-based interventions might have uncertain effectiveness, focus on cost savings rather than long-term health, or specifically exclude disadvantaged populations. Policy makers, health plans, and method developers should adopt strategies that address these concerns in order to maximize the benefit of healthcare forecasting on the long-term health of patients.
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