"For every member enrolled in a health plan we have a health score" that represents the likelihood of that individual needing lifelong treatment for a chronic illness, Abbot said. BHI has even developed disease specific modules, such as one for diabetes, that predict an individual's risk of getting diabetes based on previous data, she said.
The goal is to be able to use the data to get doctors to provide better, more targeted care for high-risk patients so as to reduce their need for expensive, long-term treatment, she said. The predictive modeling is enabling BCBS to move toward a more incentive-based healthcare model in which doctors get incented for performance, Abbot said.
Online dating site Match.com is another company that relies heavily on predictive analytics to run its service. The company collects and maintains a lot of information, some collected from subscribers and some collected from monitoring their interactions on Match.com.
The company's challenge is to find a way to improve revenue per subscriber by delivering the best matches possible based on each subscriber's preferences, said Jim Talbott, director of consumer insights at Match.com
It is a task that is complicated by the fact that subscribers might indicate a specific set of requirements for a potential partner but then interact with people who fall outside their own specified range of preferences, he said.
To meet the challenge, Match.com has developed a predictive model that matches people based not just on their stated preferences but also on their site behavior and their interactions with other people.
Companies interested in predictive modeling need to have a clear idea of their objectives before they start, Taylor said. They need to know what sort of decisions will be powered by their predictive analytics and work backwards from there, he said.
To develop a good predictive model, enterprises need to focus on defining a clear set of business rules for each decision and then focus their analytics on driving the best decisions, he said.
Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
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