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Better Doctors, Better Patients, Better DecisionsEnvisioning Health Care 2020$
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Gerd Gigerenzer and J.A. Muir Gray

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016032

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016032.001.0001

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Launching the Century of the Patient

Launching the Century of the Patient

(p.3) 1 Launching the Century of the Patient
Better Doctors, Better Patients, Better Decisions

Gerd Gigerenzer

J. A. Muir Gray

The MIT Press

Efficient health care requires informed doctors and patients. The health care system inherited from the 20th century falls short on both counts. Many doctors and most patients do not understand the available medical evidence. Seven “sins” are identified which have contributed to this lack of knowledge: biased funding; biased reporting in medical journals; biased patient pamphlets; biased reporting in the media; conflicts of interest; defensive medicine; and medical curricula that fail to teach doctors how to comprehend health statistics. These flaws have generated a partially inefficient system that wastes taxpayers’ money on unnecessary or even potentially harmful tests and treatments as well as on medical research that is of limited relevance to the patient. Raising taxes or rationing care is often seen as the only viable alternative to exploding health care costs. Yet there is a third option: by promoting health literacy, better care is possible for less money. The 21st century should become the century of the patient. Governments and health institutions need to change course and provide honest and transparent information to enable better doctors, better patients, and, ultimately, better health care.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, bias in medical research funding, defensive medicine, health care, health literacy, medical reporting, science reporting, me-too drugs, risk literacy, statistical literacy

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