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Google’s Schmidt Says Data Can Change Insurance, Health Care

Google Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said new technologies that help companies analyze vast amounts of digital information have the power to bring change to the insurance, health-care and energy industries.

“Insurance is the most obvious” industry “about to explode” with uses for big data, said Schmidt, who spoke today at The Year Ahead: 2014, a conference in Chicago hosted by Bloomberg LP. Better cost controls and more efficient delivery of services are two ways data can transform industries, he said.

Schmidt and Dan Wagner, who led the analytics team for President Barack Obama’s 2012 run for re-election, discussed ways companies and government regulators can use algorithms -- similar to those applied to voter-registration data in the campaign -- to sort through the available troves of information about people and markets to help them boost productivity.

Health-care providers and hospitals could use data to target services to those most at risk, which could help lower the cost of care, Schmidt said. In the disparate energy markets, flows could be more accurately modeled, revealing patterns of overuse or underuse, he said.

Wagner is now chief executive officer of Civis Analytics, a consulting firm he founded with Schmidt’s backing.

“This is the future of almost everything that we’re doing,” Schmidt said. “The state of the art is that you apply something called machine intelligence, where you use artificial-intelligence techniques to go through all this data and look for interesting patterns.”

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