Articles, PSQH November 15, 2018

A Health IT Soothsayer

by Barry P Chaiken, MD

One of the best parts about predicting the future is how rarely the soothsayer is held accountable. The famous Michel de Nostredame, better known as Nostradamus, is popularly credited with predicting the rise of Hitler in Germany, the attacks of 9/11, and climate change. In reality, we do not focus on the predictions Nostradamus got wrong, and we pretzel-twist his vague predictions into specific, definitive ones.

Steve Levitt of Freakonomics fame said on a 2011 Freakonomics Radio podcast:

“So, most predictions we remember are ones which were fabulously, wildly unexpected and then came true. Now, the person who makes that prediction has a strong incentive to remind everyone that they made that crazy prediction which came true. If you look at all the people, the economists, who talked about the financial crisis ahead of time, those guys harp on it constantly: ‘I was right, I was right, I was right.’ But if you’re wrong, there’s no person on the other side of the transaction who draws any real benefit from embarrassing you by bringing up the bad prediction over and over. So there’s nobody who has a strong incentive, usually, to go back and say, ‘Here’s the list of the 118 predictions that were false.’ And without any sort of market mechanism or incentive for keeping the prediction makers honest, there’s lots of incentive to go out and to make these wild predictions.” (Dubner, 2011).

With 2019 on the horizon, it makes sense to offer up some health IT (HIT) predictions.

Excerpts from A Health IT Soothsayer. PSQH, Fall Winter 2018

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