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The Policibo Effect

When the patient trusts the doctor, the cure comes much easier

'American Medical Association Introduces New Highly Effective Placebo Doctors', said this news item that I read a couple of days back. The AMA said in a statement that clinical trials had confirmed such individuals provided results comparable to fully trained professional physicians. “...by simply supplementing the nation's existing pool of primary care providers with several thousand unlicensed individuals whose appearance and behavior are indistinguishable from those of real doctors, we can greatly expand the medical community's ability to address patients' most commonplace ailments,” the statement said.

Are you surprised? I wasn't, but that's because I was reading this news on the website of The Onion, which is a satirical website. Since most common ailments seem to get cured by themselves, perhaps there's something to be said for the approach that this comic news item reports. But seriously, a part of the placebo effect is that even they are fully qualified and experienced, the behaviour and mannerisms of doctors is known to affect how patients respond to treatment. No matter how good a doctor is, patients respond better if they believe in his or her competence.

I'm sure you can see where this leading. It's clear that at least part of the economic uplift that the Narendra Modi government could deliver must come from its bedside manner, so to speak. Even if nothing substantive improves for a while (as GDP and other data shows), the general feeling among businesses and investors that someone is on the job, and that sooner or later the economy will start improving. Far more quickly than one could have expected, I've plenty of (yet anecdotal) examples of businesses and even employees willing to take risks in the belief that the business environment will improve. As long as this confidence is maintained, a virtuous cycle of positive feedback could be getting kickstarted.

It's the reverse of what was happening with the previous regime. While it did try to get its act together in the last few months, but no one had any faith in the doctor any more.