The mother of all nudges

This is not what Richard Thaler had in mind. Nor Daniel Kahneman. And certainly not Steven Levitt. The behavioural revolution was supposed to be impactful. It was definitely going to weave its way into our everyday lives. It would change the way we looked at and consumed food and how often we exercised and how […]

Pandemics for dummies

Where to begin? The mistakes started with the ignoring of the warnings that the virus was coming to our part of the world. And then there was the mask confusion. You don’t need one. Actually one might help. OK, they definitely help and should be mandatory. The testing and the contact tracing was also a […]

Pearls of wisdom

It has been six long months. Excruciating and depressing. Horrific and unfathomable. The Americas (North, South and Central) have been utterly gutted by COVID-19. As of the middle of August, six of the top ten countries in total COVID-19 infections are in The Americas and they account for over 50% of worldwide infections as a […]

Speed kills

We have always rewarded speed. The fastest car. The fastest man in the world. The fastest animal. The fastest person to swimthe English Channel. Everywhere you look, we reward speed. We have become addicted to ‘fast’. In fact, almost all public health officials will concede that in a pandemic situation it is crucial to act […]


I have written extensively and spoken about the slew of behavioural health ‘nudges’ emanating from hundreds of countries around the world that are, literally, a matter of life and death as the COVID-19 pandemic started descending upon the world. Chief among these ‘nudges’ was the holy triad of quarantine, shelter-in-place and stayat-home. Take your pick, […]

Loss aversion

It’s hard to take something away once you’ve given it to society. It’s even harder when you have no back-up plan. This is the undeniable lesson from the Obamacare debate that we’re witnessing. At a macro level this is true of the entire Affordable Care Act unto itself as Republicans are finding out. It’s not […]

The Unhappiness Project

Happiness, or subjective well-being as some refer to it, has long been associated, on some level, with beneficial health outcomes at the individual level.  There are a multitude of studies that have shown a relationship between an individual’s subjective well-being and some measure of improvement in overall morbidity or mortality. Simply put, we know that […]

Hidden health system costs: false positives and negatives

Suppose there are screening tests available for every single disease or ailment under the sun. Now suppose, for a moment, that you are screened for a broken arm. And let’s say that our screening test gives us a positive result. In other words, the test predicts that you have a broken arm. Now, let’s suppose […]

Reading may save your life

Suppose you put $100 in a savings account that earns 10% interest each year. After five years how much will you have? That was a question posed in a multiple-choice quiz (completed by 150,000 people in 144 countries) by Standard & Poor’s, a rating agency. The answers proffered were ‘less than $150’, ‘exactly $150’ and […]

ML and AI in healthcare

The pharmaceutical industry faces many headwinds as we enter the third decade of this century, the greatest of which may be the continual loss of branded medications due to expiring patents. As companies face this ‘patent cliff’, there is increased pressure to develop drugs faster and more cheaply in order to continue to replace products […]

All the decisions we can’t see

Let’s be honest, January was a bad month for healthcare news coming out of China. For starters, at the end of December, a Chinese court sentenced He Jiankui to three years in prison for operating an illegal medical practice, which includes using a fake ethical review certificate and misleading participants about a study’s risks, and […]

Someone like you

It is not entirely uncommon for consumer- packaged goods companies or luxury retailers to pay Facebook, YouTube or Instagram ‘stars’ to endorse and use their brands. Typically, this individual has the profile of a customer that the manufacturer or retailer wishes to target, with one mandatory characteristic: tens of thousands (if not more) of followers […]

Warren Buffet’s Greatest Healthcare Lesson

Predicting rain doesn’t count. Building arks does. Buffett wrote this in a Berkshire Hathaway shareholder report from 2001 to explain the big mistake he made that year. In Buffett’s estimation, Berkshire Hathaway had a terrible year, which was further compounded by the tragic events of September 11th, 2001. Buffett was explaining that he had actually […]

In Plain Sight

I knew I would write this first column of 2021 on this topic as far back as April or May of 2020. The second week in December – as I wrote my monthly column – was the week we, in North America, would wait for Time magazine’s proclamation of its Person of the Year. And […]

Dear Joe

Dear Joe, Congratulations on winning the recent US Presidential Election. Now the work begins. You have tremendous challenges on the domestic front, with foreign policy and with an economy that is staggering. Your country is divided. Schools are closing. People are dying. But the health of your citizens and a single-minded focus on the healthcare […]

Be Careful What You Wish For

Other than hoping that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, would just disappear or that we could all collectively skip the year 2020, the two most common yearnings I hear, see and read about in relation to COVID-19 are: let me get the virus and get it over with, and let’s hurry up and get […]