For some strange reason the healthcare sector manages to escape the sort of forensic analysis others are subjected to. There’s this strange coalition of patient confidentiality, ethics, professional integrity and public policy. These combine to create this “opaque soup” of information which nobody understands and even fewer believe.
In the UK we get bombarded by PR campaigns funded by the government and intended to persuade us to change our lifestyles. My favourite example is posters on Edinburgh buses telling us not to rinse after brushing our teeth.
Of course they’re really telling us its our fault the NHS is so expensive – because we use it.
For anybody as confused as me the new book from Levitt and Dubner – SuperFreakonmics – is a fascinating read, because this irreverent pair takes the lid off the pan and clarifies the soup with real research.
Initially I’d planned to quote from the book, explaining their discoveries but decided that would dis-service both the authors and readers. So please buy it.
They explain in terms anybody can understand the ways vested interest and incompetence (not on the part of doctors or nurses) get in the way of everybody understanding more of the choices and consequences.
Most importantly they point to real research results confirming the benefits of aggregating and analysing patient data to get past the obfuscation and find new ways of delivering more value at less cost.