Freakonomics, M.D.

Each week, physician and economist Dr. Bapu Jena will dig into a fascinating study at the intersection of economics and healthcare. He takes on questions like: Why do kids with summer birthdays get the flu more often? Can surviving a hurricane help you live longer? What do heart surgery and grocery-store pricing have in common? You can follow the show on Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

 

ABOUT THE HOST

Anupam “Bapu” Jena is a professor at Harvard Medical School, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He has a M.D. and a Ph. D in economics from the University of Chicago, where he studied under Steve Levitt, co-author of the Freakonomics books. 

As an economist and physician, Jena is uniquely positioned to explore the world of medicine with an eye towards behavioral science and economics that’s rooted in data: 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. Bapu is a prolific researcher and is fascinated by studies done by others too.

As an expert communicator of issues that lie at the intersection of medicine, behavioral science, and economics, Jena will apply his inquisitive mind and his warm and engaging style to his new weekly podcast with the Freakonomics Radio Network.

 

Is Uber Good (or Bad) for Your Health? (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 14)

When you need a ride to the hospital, who should you call? Bapu talks with economist David Slusky about how ridesharing services are increasingly replacing ambulances. Plus, an unexpected reason why rideshares may lead some people to unhealthy behaviors.

When Bapu Met Levitt (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep 13)

Once upon a time, Bapu Jena was a graduate student at the University of Chicago. His most interesting teacher? The economist Steve Levitt. This week on Freakonomics, M.D., a replay of a conversation between Steve and Bapu from Steve’s podcast, People I (Mostly) Admire, where they cover everything from the ethics of human-challenge trials to why Bapu decided to start his own show.

Where Do All the Bad Ideas Go? (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 12)

Ideas are currency. This couldn't be more true in academia, where it's the job of researchers to think of questions and, hopefully, find answers. Bapu talks with economists Steve Levitt and Emily Oster about how they come up with ideas for studies, why most never make it off the ground, and what should be done with scrapped projects.

Why Do So Many Donated Kidneys End Up in the Trash? (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 11)

Every year, thousands of people in the U.S. die while they’re waiting for a new kidney, yet thousands of available organs get thrown away. Bapu talks to a kidney doctor and an economics Nobel laureate about why this happens and how the system could improve.

The Mystery of the Man with Confusion and Back Pain (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 10)

Hear diagnostician Gurpreet Dhaliwal try to solve the case of a patient who came to the emergency room with an unusual combination of symptoms. Plus, we discuss how difficult it is to separate the signal from the noise when treating patients, and how cognitive biases factor into doctors’ decision-making.

Why Fridays May Be Dangerous for Your Health (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 9)

When researchers analyzed which day of the week most drug-safety alerts are released — and what it means for public health — they were stunned. So was Bapu Jena. He talks with them and a physician this week about the “Friday Effect,” a common problem with big repercussions for the safety of the medications.

A Playbook for Beating the Next Pandemic (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 8)

We dig into why Covid-19 caught us so unprepared and how we can make sure we’re ready for a future public-health crisis with former F.D.A. director Scott Gottlieb.

What Happens to Patients When Thousands of Cardiologists Leave Town? (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 7)

This week, Bapu Jena presents some hot-off-the-presses research exploring the relationship between how many patients a doctor sees, and how well those patients do. Plus, the surprising impact of annual cardiology conferences that prompted Bapu’s first conversation with Stephen Dubner on Freakonomics Radio.

Are Barbershops the Cutting Edge of Healthcare Delivery? (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 6)

Bapu Jena talks with a barber and a pharmacist whose study brought healthcare to Black men in Los Angeles who were getting haircuts. They discuss its impact on high blood pressure among customers — and how unconventional approaches like this could help build trust.

How to Solve a Medical Mystery (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 5)

A woman comes to the emergency room with back pain. She’ll leave with an unexpected diagnosis. How does her doctor figure out what’s wrong? Listen as host Bapu Jena puts master clinician Dr. Gurpreet Dhaliwal on the spot to solve a real medical mystery. Along the way, you’ll learn how doctors think and the most important questions they ask.