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.

 

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.

What Do Grocery Store Prices and Heart Surgery Have in Common? (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 4)

Humans are hardwired to focus on the left digit in numbers. It’s why products are priced at $3.99 instead of $4.00. But does this left-digit bias also affect medical decisions? Host Bapu Jena is joined by a fellow researcher and a cardiologist to explain how left-digit bias shows up in one of the most important decisions a doctor can make, what it means for patients, and what we can do about it.

Why Are Kids With Summer Birthdays More Likely to Get the Flu? (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 3)

After struggling to schedule a flu shot for his own toddler, host Bapu Jena went down a research rabbit hole. He discovered that the time of year kids are born has an unexpected and dramatic effect on whether they and their families end up getting the flu. Bapu explains his findings and asks a pediatrician and public health expert what could be done about it.

Do As Docs Say, Not As They Do (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 2)

Does having more health information actually change behavior? To test this question, host Bapu Jena explores whether doctors make healthier choices than the rest of us (and he fesses up to an unhealthy habit of his own).

Covid and the “Birthday Effect” (Freakonomics, M.D. Ep. 1)

Host Bapu Jena is an economist and medical doctor whose latest research measures the link between birthdays and Covid. He explains his team’s findings, explores the role that kids’ parties may have played, reveals whether politics made a difference, and convinces a Zoom magician to reveal the secrets of making virtual parties awesome. 

Introducing “Freakonomics, M.D.”

How can a marathon be dangerous even if you don’t run the race? Does your doctor follow medical advice any better than you do? Just how dangerous was it to go to a birthday party at the height of the pandemic? These are the kinds of questions that intrigue Dr. Bapu Jena, a rare double threat — he’s both an M.D. and a Ph.D. economist at Harvard. Each week on Freakonomics, M.D., Jena digs into fascinating research to discover the hidden side of healthcare.