Alex Tabarrok argues we need to admit that doctors aren’t superhuman:

A typical physician spends most of the day playing twenty questions. Where does it hurt?  Do you have a cough?  How high is the patient’s blood pressure?  But an expert system can play twenty questions better than most people.  An expert system can use the best knowledge in the field, it can stay current with the journals, and it never forgets.

His argument isn’t alone. The X-Prize foundation is funding a project that would give 10 million to the first team to develop an app that can be run on a cellphone and diagnose an illness with the same accuracy as 10 board certified doctors. I’ve heard the argument that you can’t measure doctors the same as other professions (i.e. based on success) because diagnosis and treatment are hampered by the patient. If a person doesn’t take their pills or report every symptom, how can the doctor be held accountable?

But then, one could argue, there is no assurance for a patient that one is not getting a quack, so why take pills that may not work, or report symptoms the doctor dismisses? It’s a vicious cycle. And, sorry, doc, you’re the one we’re going to be testing first. There should be a higher standard of performance for medical professionals.