How Soccer Relates to Healthcare

How The Soccer Penalty Kick Issue Relates to Healthcare

To keep things simple, the process of treating patients is based on the history of the healthcare system in combination with the practitioner’s own experience. Medical algorithms have been around since the time of bloodletting although increased knowledge allows for better patient results.

Medical algorithms refer to documented treatment plans for better patient outcomes. If used appropriately they can speed treatment and recovery in patients by using historical knowledge of proven and failed attempts. The main issue with algorithms is they have a dead end that requires change. If you try Product A for a certain amount of time without getting the desired result you must either change the dose of Product A, add Product B, or change to Product C. Staying the course without making a change could be the right move but medicine is still a business and if the patients aren’t getting the desired result they will lose confidence in their treatment and possibly move on to a new practitioner.

This is especially important once the patient visits a new practitioner for the first time and emphasizes their reason for changing is due to their previous provider’s failure to achieve the desired results. The new practitioner could be another primary care physician or it could be a specialist that they were referred to by their primary care physician. Either way, if the patient was on Product A without getting the desired results it is highly unlikely that the patient will continue to receive Product A with the new provider even if the new provider believes it is the correct option. The patient/customer has voiced their concern that they want a change and although sometimes staying the course is the right move a change will be made.

Stephen J. Dubner and Dr. Steven Levitt from “Freakonomics” have investigated soccer penalty kicks and how the goalie reacts in attempting to prevent the goal. Even though data has shown that the majority of attempts are made in the middle of the target the goalie has to feel they are making an effort to stop the kick and move to the left or right. There is a concern of being viewed as a “deer in the headlights” if they stay put and guard the middle instead of making an effort to attack the ball. The norm theory (Kahneman and Miller, 1986) implies that a goal scored yields worse feelings for the goalkeeper following inaction compared to making an action and missing.

The same issue is in play with a healthcare providers desire to fix their patients and how they will be viewed based on their actions or inaction.


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