It’s the Freakonomics of medicine, with host Dr. Bapu Jena. Each week, the Harvard physician and economist will dig into a fascinating study at the intersection of economics and healthcare. He takes on questions like: Why do kids with summer birthdays get the flu more often? Can surviving a hurricane help you live longer? What do heart surgery and grocery-store pricing have in common?
Listen here or follow Freakonomics, M.D. on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts. We also provide transcripts, show notes, and links to research for each episode.
In hospitals, a softer pillow or a nicer room might be more than just amenities — they could improve outcomes for patients.
Americans eat a lot of sugar — and it’s hard to determine how it affects our health. Bapu explains how a new study uses data from the 1950s to help solve the mystery.
It’s not a new question, but it’s a tricky one to study. Bapu explains why, and talks about how an N.F.L. labor dispute helped him get some answers.
The most expensive drugs in the world are treatments for genetic diseases. And more of these cures are on the horizon. How will anyone be able to afford them?
Breakthroughs in biotech that seem like science fiction are becoming reality. Why aren’t more patients benefiting from them?
mRNA vaccines helped bring the pandemic under control. Could they also train the immune system to fight cancer?
Success and failure are hard to measure in medicine. Bapu looks at how surgeons are judged after a bad outcome — and whether men and women are treated the same.
We take it for granted that, when people are acutely ill, they should be in the hospital. Is there a better way?
Figuring out which patients to hospitalize and which to safely send home can be tricky. Is there a way to make this decision easier for doctors — and get better outcomes, too?
A small number of patients with multiple, chronic conditions use a lot of resources. Dr. Jeffrey Brenner found a way to identify and treat them. Could it reduce health-care spending too?
Bapu tries to stump master clinician Dr. Gurpreet Dhaliwal with a medical mystery.
It’s a surprisingly hard question to answer. Bapu talks with a health economist about a natural experiment that led to some unexpected findings.
At the start of the 20th century, there weren’t many hospitals in the U.S. That changed in 1918, thanks to the Great Influenza pandemic. Its effects on health care are still being felt today. Which makes us wonder: will the impact of Covid-19 also be felt 100 years from now?
Half the world’s population uses social media — and a new study suggests that it causes anxiety and depression. Can anything be done, or is it too late?
Some diagnostic tests give distorted results for Black patients. How are doctors trying to change that?
Promising drugs keep failing in trials. Allegations of fraud have cast a shadow over the field. An expert explains why Alzheimer’s treatments have been so hard to find — and why one clue may lie in the Andes Mountains.
Bapu talks to White House Covid Czar Dr. Ashish Jha about becoming a household name, studying pandemics, and the frustrations of politics. Also, when will he be out of a job?
Colonoscopy is strongly recommended for Americans over 45. But a new study suggests its benefits have been overstated. Should we change how we screen for colorectal cancer?
Chances are, at some point you’ll be treated by a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant instead of a doctor. Will your care suffer?
Time is precious. How can doctors and patients make the best use of it — especially when there isn’t much left?
Can a clever new study shed light on one of parenting’s most elusive and contentious questions?
Antibiotics save lives. But what happens when we use them too much? Bapu looks at how changing physician behavior could help prevent a major public health disaster.
Incarceration has been linked to infectious diseases, mental illness, cancer, and violence. But new research suggests it can extend some people’s lifespans. Bapu investigates the paradox of prison time.
Behavioral economists say “regret lotteries” are powerful motivational tools. When Philadelphia tried one in 2021, the results were disappointing. Bapu looks at how incentives can backfire — and what we can learn from failures.
When COVID hit, telemedicine use in the U.S. exploded. But how are we using it now? Bapu Jena explores the consequences of this evolving technology.
After the Supreme Court’s abortion decision, doctors in some states are concerned that delivering treatment could put them in legal jeopardy. Bapu Jena looks at how the practice of “defensive medicine” can compromise patient care.
Medical tests can save lives. So how do doctors decide who gets tested, and when?
When researchers analyzed which day of the week most F.D.A. drug-safety alerts are released — and what it means for public health — they were stunned. So, what can we do about the “Friday Effect?”
A small number of patients with multiple, chronic conditions use a lot of resources. Dr. Jeffrey Brenner found a way to identify and treat them. Could it reduce health care spending too?
When a hospital closes in a rural area, it’s a big deal. But are all patients affected equally? We look at new research on the unexpected outcomes of traveling farther for care.
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