Friday, April 6, 2012

Infographics: devil in details

I got an e-mail yesterday asking me if I would be interested in displaying an info graphic on my blog. After a few back and forths, I decided to do it. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. But as with everything, buyer beware: the devil is in the details.

A couple of caveats:
1. I cannot back up all of the numbers myself, and the references at the bottom seem to represent single source data, rather than the totality of the evidence. So take with a grain of salt.
2. There are a couple of notable errors in the graphics:
a. The graphic on other first world nations' spending says that the US spends 2x what they do in Japan. What the graph shows is that this is the case as the proportion of the GDP (also the x-axis is not labeled as such). So, the statement is not entirely accurate.
b. In hospitals overcharging, the caption states that hospitals charge 200% more for meds compared to ex US. The number adds up to 100% more, which is 2x.
3. In general, there are actually some valid reasons why we pay more for stuff in the US. I do not, for example, know if the international data are adjusted for various economic factors, such as purchasing power.
4. The statement that doctors are overpaid is a laugh -- take it from someone who has been in the trenches. I worked dawn till dusk and beyond, nearly every day of every week. I was making barely enough to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. No lavish vacations, no BMWs, etc. It is not the MDs that are overpaid. Go to the C-suites and corporations, and then you are getting warmer.

Despite the disagreements that I have with the data, I thought it might be a good point of discussion. Would love to hear your thoughts about it.

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  1. It would be helpful if the right side of the infographic were not clipped off.


  2. Yes, Peter, I see what you mean, thank you. Any html mavens out there who can help me do this?