MASSDEVICE ON CALL — The law of supply and demand are among the most fundamental tenants of economics, and as applied to healthcare may suggest that an increase in the number of physicians in the U.S. would decrease the cost of the services they provide.
However, healthcare is an imperfect market and industry economists are still arguing about the practical implications of supply and demand in among physicians, Catherine Rampell writes in The New York Times column Economix.
One school of thought believes boosting the number of doctors would actually jack up healthcare costs. Because of competition for patients, doctors would end up prescribing more tests and drugs to offset losses, some say.
Another school of thought believes that this phenomenon, called physician-induced demand, already takes place and is successfully offset by insurance policies that reprimand extraneous tests as well as by patients who are wary of over-zealous doctors.
As Rampell writes, "conclusions are disputed" about the economics of the doctor shortage, "since the data are so messy."
Voice recognition software gains traction in healthcare
Burlington, Mass.-based company Nuance, which sells voice recognition software, raked in more than half of its sales from healthcare providers in its most recent quarter. The revenue rolled in after the company integrated its Dragon software in to a work flow tool for radiologists called PowerScribe360. The company said PowerScribe360 is increasingly popular because of its compliance with "meaningful use" rules that help radiology departments reign in costs in a era of budget-tightening.
Nerdcore: Teaching infection control with gaming
Physicians and self-identified "geeks" Dr. Arun Mathews and Dr. Francis Kong founded a company called Nerdcore that uses gaming culture to educate players about medicine. Their 1st game, called the Healing Blade, is a role-playing card game similar to "Pokemon" that teaches infection control.
In the game’s fantasy world, characters are divided into warring clans called The Apothecary Healers (real antibiotics) and The Lords of Pestilence (real bacteria). Mathews and Kong said they will release an iPhone edition of Healing Blade, and are designing even more games targeted toward medical students.