Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index

Want some more insight about the business model underlying the Gallup-Healthways “Well Being Index” venture? Check out this March 21 report that contrasts smoking vs. income by race.

They’ve calculated that there is a market for detailed information like this that will in turn enable businesses and governments to segment populations in multiple ways. This will allow precisely aimed health care interventions (oh, yes and marketing too) that are correlated to multiple dimensions such as income, place of employment, purchasing preferences or party-dude efficiency.

The Disease Management Care Blog heard Newt Gingrich salute this initiative, heralding it as another example of how our terabyte society will commercially coordinate itself into a state of maximum well being. But give this approach some credit. This is speedy, efficient and backed by an organization that knows how to do this. In my opinion, the data are methodologically close enough, confirms what we already know from prior studies in a highly granular fashion and points the way to designing interventions to reduce the burden of tobacco abuse where they are most needed.

Note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been collecting tobacco use data for many years. Unlike the Well Being Index, all their information is non-commercial and available on line. The DMCB doesn’t think the CDC information is quite as user friendly or as amenable to the wide range of possible sub-group analyses. Maybe Newt has a point about this area of the healthcare medical-industrial complex: there are new parts that work and then there are long-established parts that don’t work work less efficiently.

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