Second opinion? Diagnosing doctors

Monday, March 1, 2010 - 05:35 in Health & Medicine

What difference does a great doctor make to your health? Patients everywhere would love to know the answer. A recent study co-authored by Joseph Doyle, an economist at the MIT Sloan School of Management, offers a subtle conclusion to this question. Treatment by a highly rated physician does not necessarily change the outcome of a serious medical problem. Instead, the best doctors typically offer an accurate diagnosis more quickly than moderately rated doctors, leading to hospital stays for patients that are 10 percent shorter and less expensive — an average that increases to 25 percent for certain medical specialties. “As a patient myself, I always hope to go to a prestigious hospital, but I wonder how much more of an advantage that is,” says Doyle. “It turns out that if you don’t have access to the most prestigious teams, the less prestigious ones will eventually make the same types of...

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