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Martin Odber

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Can the shortage of doctors be solved using an adaptation of the third law of supply and demand?

The third law of supply and demand states "If demand remains unchanged and supply increases, a surplus occurs, leading to a lower equilibrium price."
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supply_and_demand )

If we increased the rate of new doctors entering medicine (using mechanisms such as but not limited to; subsidizing doctors education, further compartmentalizing aspects of health care etc ) until we reached a surplus state then would waiting times and the cost of healthcare go down accordingly?


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    Sep 23 2013: Quite correct, this is not a feasible purchase for an individual. It is presently being purchased by hospitals or universities, and is likely to remain that way.

    Martin, I suggest that personal ownership of such a device would be wasteful in the extreme, however. The set-up for the supercomputer permits many thousands of analyses a second; the current model involves renting time on Watson for diagnoses in the same fashion universities and government agencies rent time on supercomputers to run calculations.

    I do, however, believe that we are headed precisely where you project in the same fashion that physics computation on the Apollo missions was eventually superseded by smartphones with GPS. It is important to keep in mind this is the very first iteration of the use for the technology, which is composed of nothing but fields that advance at an exponential pace. The specific development you are interested in is being pushed from here: http://www.qualcommtricorderxprize.org/.

    As far as reducing costs, there are questions that could be asked. For example, how much computing power could be expected to handle an individual's annual needs for diagnosis? How streamlined could a program be made that focuses exclusively on medical purposes? Could similar software that is more efficient be written? Whatever the answer regarding computing power and software efficiency, how do the present demands relate to devices and resources available to civilians? Once the threshold for a cellphone is crossed, this solution will break like a wave over Africa, where almost all processing power in private hands is mobile devices. Would we be willing to wait longer for an answer if it meant skipping the doctor? Running a program that takes days to complete is conventionally regarded as a thing of the past, but if it is waiting for a doctor's phone call after forking over a lot of money, or forking over little and waiting on your phone, I'd pick the latter.

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