Computers Key to Fighting Medicare Fraud

Geographic information systems and other technologies offer new hope for reducing government health-care fraud

3 min read

17 November 2010—On 13 October 2010, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 55 people involved in a scheme to defraud Medicare, the U.S. government’s health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, of US $163 million. It was hailed as the largest Medicare fraud bust in U.S. history until a week later, when federal agents took down a separate group, in Florida, that had tried to defraud the Medicare system of $200 million. In both cases, the government had already paid out millions of dollars for medical services that were never provided. Most of the money will never be recovered.

These kinds of schemes cost the U.S. government billions of dollars each year—there was an estimated $47 billion in improper Medicare payments in 2009 alone—so it should come as no surprise that cracking down on fraud has become a key part of the White House’s health-care reform efforts. The goal is to reduce improper payments by half by 2012. The biggest challenge facing Medicare fraud investigators is the sheer size of the system. Sorting through all the data can take months. Phony clinics, such as the ones the FBI shut down in October, often have collected their money and moved on to new locations by the time investigators discover the fraud.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic

Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

Keep Reading ↓Show less