April 12, 2007

Supply Side Medicine

This week on CNE I blog about why medicine is so backwards. John C. Goodman makes the point in his paper that diffusion of technologies such as telephones, email and electronic records have been extremely slow in medicine compared to other professions. The explanation he gives is the lack of incentives to innovate, and points at the far more dynamic situation in cosmetic surgery and lasik.

His graph of the cost of cosmetic surgery is interesting, because it suggests that thanks to competition and price transparency it has become cheaper over time. This is cheering not just from an aesthetic perspective, but also from an human enhancement equality perspective. One of my main worries has been that the prices of service-based enhancements will be high and remain high, possibly causing social friction (gadgets and drugs become cheaper over time). But this shows that the price does not have to remain high if there is enough competition. Given that enhancements are somewhat likely to be outside the traditional healthcare system anyway and closer to elective surgery, this might be good social news.

Posted by Anders3 at April 12, 2007 07:38 PM