Behavioral Economics And The Practice Of Medicine

Check this out. What you will see is a family physician’s very practical recounting of how to avoid two biases, originally uncovered by Behavioral Economists, that are frequently encountered in the practice of medicine.

More specifically, he focuses on the biases of “availability” and “recency.” People are more likely to overestimate the risk of things with which they are very familiar and things that have happened to them lately. Conversely, they underestimate the risk of events that are not right in their face. What to do? Simple! Two things. First, the physician must remember herself, and remind her patients, of actual data concerning risk levels. Second, the doctor must lean on her team to make sure that all of the staff, and all of the patients, are sufficiently grounded in reality to avoid succumbing to these biases.

Bottom Line. How clever of a PCP to figure this out. To do so, he needed to be in touch with both the theories of Behavioral Economics and the practicalities of medical practice. BUT. He laid out only two of the multitude of biases and heuristics that are doubtless at work in physicians’ and patients’ minds on a daily basis. AND. This is not just an academic curiosity, but a phenomenon that can lead to bad treatment decisions, poor patient compliance, etc. 

I’m thinking this topic requires some further thought. And practical guidance to physicians and patients alike as to how to deal with these biases so that they don’t have negative impacts upon healthcare. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *