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Bapu Jena

Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor of Health Care Policy, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School; Associate Professor of Medicine and Assistant Physician in the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital


Tom Brady, A.D.H.D., and a Really Bad Headache

A sneak peek of Bapu’s new book, Random Acts of Medicine, available now from Doubleday, and an announcement about the show.

7/11/23
40:13

Do Kids Cause Divorce?

Couples get divorced for all kinds of reasons. Is having kids one of them? Bapu talks about research that investigates what happens to parents who unexpectedly have twins. Plus, an announcement about the future of the show.

3/30/23
18:50

They Make Minimum Wage. They Could Save Your Life.

Doctors and nurses get most of the attention — but a new study suggests we can improve health care by raising wages for a group of workers who are often overlooked.

3/23/23
19:00

Is a Spoonful of Sunlight the Best Medicine?

In hospitals, a softer pillow or a nicer room might be more than just amenities — they could improve outcomes for patients.

3/16/23
23:07

What Is Sugar Really Doing to You?

Americans eat a lot of sugar — and it’s hard to determine how it affects our health. Bapu explains how a new study uses data from the 1950s to help solve the mystery.

3/9/23
25:22

How Does Playing Football Affect Your Health?

It’s not a new question, but it’s a tricky one to study. Bapu explains why, and talks about how an N.F.L. labor dispute helped him get some answers.

3/2/23
21:40

Who Pays for Multimillion-Dollar Miracle Cures?

The most expensive drugs in the world are treatments for genetic diseases. And more of these cures are on the horizon. How will anyone be able to afford them?

2/16/23
33:02

What’s Stopping Us From Curing Rare Diseases?

Breakthroughs in biotech that seem like science fiction are becoming reality. Why aren’t more patients benefiting from them?

2/9/23
33:02

What Do COVID-19 and Cancer Have in Common?

mRNA vaccines helped bring the pandemic under control. Could they also train the immune system to fight cancer?

2/2/23
29:26

Why Are There Still So Few Female Surgeons?

Success and failure are hard to measure in medicine. Bapu looks at how surgeons are judged after a bad outcome — and whether men and women are treated the same.

1/26/23
29:56

Home Sweet … Hospital?

We take it for granted that, when people are acutely ill, they should be in the hospital. Is there a better way?

1/19/23
27:52

The E.R. Doctor’s Dilemma

Figuring out which patients to hospitalize and which to safely send home can be tricky. Is there a way to make this decision easier for doctors — and get better outcomes, too?

1/12/23
29:58

What Can We Do About the Hardest Patients? (Replay)

A small number of patients with multiple, chronic conditions use a lot of resources. Dr. Jeffrey Brenner found a way to identify and treat them. Could it reduce health-care spending too?

1/5/23
31:42

Why Did This 60-Year-Old Man Collapse at the Supermarket?

Bapu tries to stump master clinician Dr. Gurpreet Dhaliwal with a medical mystery.

12/29/22
34:08

Does Health Insurance Make You Healthier?

It’s a surprisingly hard question to answer. Bapu talks with a health economist about a natural experiment that led to some unexpected findings.

12/22/22
32:46

How Do Pandemics Change Health Care?

At the start of the 20th century, there weren’t many hospitals in the U.S. That changed in 1918, thanks to the Great Influenza pandemic. Its effects on health care are still being felt today. Which makes us wonder: will the impact of Covid-19 also be felt 100 years from now?

12/15/22
31:24

Is Facebook Bad for Your Mental Health?

Half the world’s population uses social media — and a new study suggests that it causes anxiety and depression. Can anything be done, or is it too late?

12/8/22
33:44

What Medicine Gets Wrong About Race

Some diagnostic tests give distorted results for Black patients. How are doctors trying to change that?

12/1/22
36:23

How Important Is Breastfeeding, Really?

In this special episode of Freakonomics, M.D., host Bapu Jena looks at a clever new study that could help answer one of parenting’s most contentious questions.

11/30/22
35:54

Why Don’t We Have a Cure for Alzheimer’s? (Update)

Promising drugs keep failing in trials. Allegations of fraud have cast a shadow over the field. An expert explains why Alzheimer’s treatments have been so hard to find — and why one clue may lie in the Andes Mountains.

11/24/22
32:41

Dr. Ashish Jha Anticipated a Pandemic. He Didn’t Think It Would Look Like This.

Bapu talks to White House Covid Czar Dr. Ashish Jha about becoming a household name, studying pandemics, and the frustrations of politics. Also, when will he be out of a job?

11/17/22
30:46

Should You Bother Getting a Colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is strongly recommended for Americans over 45. But a new study suggests its benefits have been overstated. Should we change how we screen for colorectal cancer?

11/10/22
34:13

The Doctor Is Out. The Physician Assistant Is In.

Chances are, at some point you’ll be treated by a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant instead of a doctor. Will your care suffer?

11/3/22
30:38

The Most Valuable Resource in Medicine

Time is precious. How can doctors and patients make the best use of it — especially when there isn’t much left?

10/27/22
28:35

How Important Is Breastfeeding, Really?

Can a clever new study shed light on one of parenting’s most elusive and contentious questions?

10/20/22
31:35

Doctors Know They Prescribe Too Many Antibiotics. Why Don’t They Stop?

Antibiotics save lives. But what happens when we use them too much? Bapu looks at how changing physician behavior could help prevent a major public health disaster.

10/13/22
27:53

Could Prison Be Good for Your Health?

Incarceration has been linked to infectious diseases, mental illness, cancer, and violence. But new research suggests it can extend some people’s lifespans. Bapu investigates the paradox of prison time.

10/6/22
28:43

This Vaccine Lottery Seemed Like a Great Idea. Why Didn’t it Work?

Behavioral economists say “regret lotteries” are powerful motivational tools. When Philadelphia tried one in 2021, the results were disappointing. Bapu looks at how incentives can backfire — and what we can learn from failures.

9/29/22
32:17

Will You Ever Go Back to Your Doctor’s Office?

When COVID hit, telemedicine use in the U.S. exploded. But how are we using it now? Bapu Jena explores the consequences of this evolving technology.

9/22/22
32:22

Why Do Doctors Have to Play Defense?

After the Supreme Court’s abortion decision, doctors in some states are concerned that delivering treatment could put them in legal jeopardy. Bapu Jena looks at how the practice of “defensive medicine” can compromise patient care.

9/15/22
31:09

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