## Game Theory in the Medical Field

As we discussed in class, game theory has a wide range of applications. It is used when individuals make decisions based on one or more ways of acting. The individuals, typically called players, use strategies which ultimately determine their payoff. In a payoff matrix, there is a Nash equilibrium if the matrix includes a set of strategies that are best responses to each other. For instance if a pair of strategies (S, T) is a nash, then S has to be the best response to T and T has to be the best response to S.

The article applies different game theory models to the medical practice, and specifically the patient-doctor interaction. The first game theory model proposed is based on the prisoner’s dilemma, whereby there are 2 prisoners, and each must choose where or not to confess. By both confessing, they will both be both be convicted; by both not confessing, both will be acquitted. If one of the two confesses, the one who confessed will be acquitted (with the best possible payoff) and the other will receive a heavy sentence (the worst possible payoff).

This model was then applied to medical consultation in primary care. The hypothetical scenario involves a busy Friday afternoon surgery at a general practitioner’s office. A patient comes in with a sore throat. The practitioner has to choose between quickly diagnosing the patient by giving him/her a prescription for a generic antibiotic, or spending more time with the patient to assess other factors and to make a more comprehensive diagnosis. The two options for the doctor are to work in the patient’s best interests and give a comprehensive diagnosis (C) and to simply prescribe the antibiotic (D). The two options for the patient are to either cooperate, and follow the doctors orders (C) or to not go along with the doctor’s advice (D). The possible outcomes are represented in the payoff matrix below, where the doctor is represented by I and the patient by II: