Medical decisions are based on scientific research which allows physicians to make treat patients based on probability estimates about the likelihood of diagnoses and treatment efficacy. Where medical diagnoses are made in conditions of uncertainty, physicians must rely on their judgement to generate the best decision possible. At the same time, large variations in medical procedure between geographical regions indicate that medical decisions are also subject to social influence by peers and community norms. Fortunately, research on the wisdom of crowds has shown that the average belief within a group is generally more accurate than any given individual. Our pilot tests on simple estimation tasks have shown that by allowing people to share information with each other, individuals can draw on the wisdom of crowds to improve the accuracy of their beliefs. This project is designed to understand how encouraging information flow between physicians and institutions can improve the accuracy of medical diagnoses.
Research on this project was supported under the Robert Wood Johnson Pioneer Grant for “Improving Medical Decision Making through the Wisdom of Crowds” to PI Damon Centola. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.