Custom Made Versus Ready to Wear Treatments; Behavioral Propensities in Physician's Choices
To customize treatments to individual patients entails costs of coordination and cognition. Thus, providers sometimes choose treatments based on norms for broad classes of patients. We develop behavioral hypotheses explaining when and why doctors customize to the particular patient, and when instead they employ "ready-to-wear" treatments. Our empirical studies examining length of office visits and physician prescribing behavior find evidence of norm-following behavior. Some such behavior, from our studies and from the literature, proves sensible; but other behavior seems far from optimal.
An earlier version of this paper was presented at 25th Anniversary Conference of the Journal of Health Economics. We thank Dan Ford, Lisa Meredith, Katherine Rost, and Lisa Rubenstein for use of the QID data. We appreciate comments received from Victor Fuchs, Tom McGuire, Joe Newhouse, Ben Sommers, Cass Sunstein and two anonymous referees. Rachel Henke provided invaluable help in using the QID data. Max Kates and Christina Fu provided expert programming assistance. We are grateful to Samuel Osher, M.D., David Rosenthal, M.D., and Mark Schoenberg, M.D. for helpful discussions. Financial support from the NIMH is acknowledged. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Frank, Richard G. & Zeckhauser, Richard J., 2007. "Custom-made versus ready-to-wear treatments: Behavioral propensities in physicians' choices," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 1101-1127, December. citation courtesy of