Saturday, February 27, 2016

Shared Results Can Undercut Asymmetric Compensation

Asymmetric compensation particularly rewards high value skills which are not ubiquitous in the marketplace. This is all the more true, when compensation involves skill sets which go well beyond the role of a prior input for tradable sector product. When research results don't have a direct link to one's ongoing time value, results are more readily shared with other researchers and the public. However, cutting edge research for time based services product, may contribute to both ongoing procedures and the bottom line in terms of revenue.

As a result, incentives for sharing of healthcare research tend to be negatively skewed, compared to research results in other disciplines. When research outcomes are important for (ongoing) future revenues, there is greater incentive for research teams not to share cutting edge information with others. An NPR article, "Academic Medical Centers Get an F in Sharing Research", notes:
In a study powered by the labor of medical students, my colleagues and I found that two-thirds of clinical trials led by scientists at our finest academic institutions, didn't share their results publicly within two years of the study's completion.
The lack of research sharing in healthcare doesn't surprise me. However, the reason I find it problematic is that so much healthcare research is taxpayer funded and receives massive support from volunteer efforts. This, on top of government subsidies, employer healthcare requirements, massive insurance industries, not to mention plenty of patient responsibility for healthcare costs as well, in the U.S.

Presently, asymmetric compensation for skills sets in healthcare, accounts for some of the most highly valued knowledge use in the world. Consequently, it may not be reasonable to expect recent healthcare research to be widely shared among either researchers outside one's immediate group, or the public at large. Even so, this dearth of knowledge dispersal is not just limited to current research, but also applies to healthcare needs at basic levels.

How so? In the years I spent as a bookseller, it didn't take long to realize that vital, life saving aspects of healthcare were intentionally withheld from the public marketplace. In spite of a vast array of healthcare subjects, too few of the available offerings actually cover the kinds of knowledge use that one might need in emergency situations, for instance. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of healthcare books marketed to the public, tend to be along the lines of self help and preventative care.

One problem for asymmetric healthcare compensation, is the fact an immense body of widely held knowledge was corralled into an intentionally limited marketplace. Much of what once held real value is discounted, or even completely disregarded. Unfortunately, as government budgets become more unwieldy, asymmetrically defined healthcare can no longer be expected to tend to the needs of entire populations.

Eventually, knowledge use systems could provide symmetric compensation for time based healthcare needs. Fortunately, a symmetrically organized approach would be closer to knowledge use patterns from centuries earlier, when individuals approached research as a personal challenge. Prior to the twentieth century, knowledge dispersal was more spontaneous, because individuals gained income from resources other than personal time value. With a little luck, individuals might gain the chance to return to work patterns which encourage shared results for healthcare research.

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