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This Computer Can Predict When You Will Die


Scientists and insurers develop 'death clock' to predict when customers will die

By Sarah Knapton / The Telegraph

Insurance premiums could rise after scientists teamed up with the insurance industry to create an algorithm which will predict when customers will die.

The University of East Anglia is launching a four year study using huge databases of medical data to determine life expectancy and long-term illness.

The four-year project is being funded by a £800,000 grant from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) and is using experts from insurance giant Aviva."

“People around the world are living longer,” said lead researcher Prof Elena Kulinskaya from UEA’s School of Computing Sciences.

“We want to develop software tools that use Big Data routinely collected by healthcare providers to forecast longevity.

“We want to identify and quantify the key factors affecting mortality and longevity, such as lifestyle choices, medical conditions and medical interventions.

“We are particularly interested in understanding how various chronic diseases and their treatments impact life expectancy.”

Experts said the project was following a trend by insurance companies to find out as much information about clients.

Ned Cazalet, insurance analyst and pensions expert, said: “We’re not quite down to blood samples and DNA tests yet but it’s certainly going that way.

“We have a big ageing population so it’s important that insurance companies get this right, instead of a one-sized fits all approach.

“Inevitably it will mean changes for some people but it could mean that people who were unable to get policies because of disease can now get them because it was just so tricky to work out in the past.”

While many people may not want to know how long they have left, the team say the research will bring practical, financial and medical benefits – such as helping people plan for retirement, and knowing how particular drugs such as statins or beta-blockers affect longevity.

Prof Kulinskaya said: “Pension contributions were recently freed, so now people can take their pension pots out and use them as they wish.

“But to be able to plan for retirement, and to understand how much you can spend, it is good to have some idea of your life expectancy. Our estimates of life expectancy will only be true on average, not at the individual level.

Death“This is exactly what we are trying to do for a number of chronic medical conditions. We also want to be able to estimate how some popular drugs, such as statins or beta-blockers, may affect longevity.

“As well as being useful for people planning retirement, it is also important for GPs deciding whether and when to prescribe particular drugs or how to advise their patients. It could also benefit local health authorities planning resources, and insurance companies deciding on the size of pension you can buy with your pension pot.”

 

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