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Friday, December 5, 2014

Big Data Offer New Strategy For Public Health Campaigns

Today's post was shared by Kaiser Health News and comes from

Chicago health officials had a serious problem. The city had long been trying to attack breast cancer among minorities with a program offering uninsured women free mammograms at Roseland Hospital in the predominantly black South Side. But black women – who are far more likely than white women to die of breast cancer – weren’t getting screened.

Because traditional public health outreach didn’t seem to be working, the city’s Department of Public Health decided to do something new: It turned to a Chicago-based data mining company, Civis Analytics, for help.

Data mining, often employed by political teams and mass marketers, uses statistical analysis to find patterns within large data sets to project trends about individual behavior and demographics.


Civis, a private company with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C., was formed by members of the data analytics team from President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Back then, as campaign staffers, they used their skills to identify Obama voters for a get-out-the-vote effort. Later, after the company was formed, Civis employees worked with Enroll America, a nonprofit group, to find people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

When Civis teamed up with Chicago’s health department, it moved on to another health-related mission: to help the city refine its outreach for the breast cancer screening program by using its big-data tool box to identify uninsured women...

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