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Computational and Mathematical Methods in Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 847396, 16 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/847396
Research Article

The Value of Private Patient Information in the Physician-Patient Relationship: A Game-Theoretic Account

Utrecht University School of Economics, Utrecht University, 3584 EC Utrecht, The Netherlands

Received 7 September 2012; Revised 26 November 2012; Accepted 6 December 2012

Academic Editor: Chris Bauch

Copyright © 2012 Kris De Jaegher. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This paper presents a game-theoretical model of the physician-patient relationship. There is a conflict of interests between physician and patient, in that the physician prefers the patient to always obtain a particular treatment, even if the patient would not consider this treatment in his interest. The patient obtains imperfect cues of whether or not he needs the treatment. The effect of an increase in the quality of the patient’s private information is studied, in the form of an improvement in the quality of his cues. It is shown that when the patient’s information improves in this sense, he may either become better off or worse off. The precise circumstances under which either result is obtained are derived.