Author Talk: ‘Random Acts of Medicine’
In this revelatory talk based on his new book, Physician-Economist Anupam B. Jena shares the secrets behind his natural experiments and what they reveal about some of the most important questions that impact our health. Does timing, circumstance, or luck impact your healthcare? Is there ever a good time to have a heart attack? Do you choose the veteran doctor or the rookie? Do you really need the surgery your doctor recommends? With his engaging and accessible style, Dr. Jena brings creativity and connection to our understanding of how medicine and economics intersect.
The Difference Between Seeing and Looking
Seeing is believing, right? Yet, creative social scientist and physician, Anupam B. Jena, argues that seeing is not the same thing as looking. We are surrounded by chance occurrences that affect our everyday lives and health in ways that go unnoticed unless someone goes looking for them.
Anupam’s research has shown that these chance events, what economists call natural experiments, are not only powerful enough to shape our mortality but can teach us how to make our health care, and health, better.
Anupam’s research has touched on some of the decade’s most creative findings in social science and medicine. Why do cities have more fatalities on marathon days? Are kids born in August more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD? Do people drive faster after a Fast and Furious movie comes out? And why do patients do better when cardiologists are out of town attending national scientific conferences?
By asking creative, engaging, and important questions about health, science, and economics on a broad scale, Anupam brings nature’s experiments into plain sight.
Leading physician-economist Anupam B. Jena’s groundbreaking new book ‘Random Acts of Medicine’ reveals the hidden side of healthcare
Does timing, circumstance, or luck impact your healthcare? ANUPAM B. JENA’s groundbreaking new book reveals the hidden side of medicine and how unexpected – but predictable – events can profoundly affect our health. Is there ever a good time to have a heart attack? Do you choose the veteran doctor or the rookie? Do you really need the surgery your doctor recommends? These questions are rife with significance; their impact can be life changing.
As a University of Chicago–trained economist and Harvard medical school professor and doctor, Jena is uniquely equipped to answer these questions. Random Acts of Medicine: The Hidden Forces That Sway Doctors, Impact Patients, and Shape Our Health is a singular work of science and medicine that empowers audiences see past the white coat and find out what really makes medicine work—and how it could work better. Kirkus Reviews gave Random Acts of Medicine a starred review, calling it: “Ingenious. . . [Full of] intriguing and surprising facts and trends. . . A well-documented, unnerving, fascinating study for anyone adrift in the American health care system.”
Host of Freakonomics, M.D., Dr. Anupam B. Jena is uniquely positioned to ask powerful questions that help us think about the intersection of medicine, behavioral science, and economics
ANUPAM B. JENA is an economist, physician, and Harvard professor who leverages his inspiring curiosity and unique background to ask big, interesting questions that enlighten audiences to a new way of thinking, particularly around health and healthcare. Dr. Jena gave a memorable talk at TEDMED in 2020, where he was heralded as a creative investigator. He is one of the most innovative and prolific social scientists in medicine, and his work is frequently featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, as well as on his popular podcast Freakonomics, M.D.
One of an elite group of social scientists positioned at the intersection of medicine and economics, Dr. Jena draws on his background as a professor at Harvard to invite his audiences into timely topics, with a focus on healthcare and how we see the world around us. He believes anyone can learn the skill of asking meaningful questions, encouraging his audiences through humorous and insightful thought exercises. Dr. Jena is passionate about looking for ideas and answers in unconventional places, as he explains how and why doctors and patients behave the way they do, the role of incentives in healthcare, the impact that healthcare has on our health, and the reasons behind a multitude of perplexing phenomena.
Dr. Jena is an economist, physician, and professor at Harvard. As one of a small group of physician-economists in the world, and one of the most creative and prolific social scientists in medicine, Dr. Jena is uniquely positioned to explore where the worlds of medicine and economics collide, based on his experiences as a practicing physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and his unique training as an economist.
His creative use of natural experiments – chance occurrences that we are exposed to, but often unaware of, in our lives – help us understand how health care works, the subject of his 2020 TEDMED talk. He is the host of the popular Freakonomics, M.D. podcast, where he tackles questions at the intersection of medicine and economics, including questions from his own research on why mortality rates rise in cities on the days that they host large marathons, why cardiac patients do better when cardiologists are out of town at national cardiology conferences, and why kids with summer birthdays are more likely to be diagnosed with A.D.H.D. Dr. Jena’s book, Random Acts of Medicine: The Hidden Forces That Sway Doctors, Impact Patients, and Shape Our Health, will be published by Doubleday in summer 2023.
Dr. Jena’s work is frequently featured in the media, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.