Why Is The Use Of Relative Numbers In Healthcare A Risk For Patients



Mathematics and the healthcare sector are closely related. Numbers are used in the healthcare sector to represent risks, benefits, and success probability of various tests, surgeries, and drugs. However, the use of relative numbers isn’t a good practice.


Keep reading this blog to learn why relative numbers in healthcare can pose a risk for patients.


But First, What Are Relative And Absolute Numbers?


Relative values or numbers are dependent on other numbers, and these don’t really give a clear picture. An example of relative numbers can be 1 in 10 people suffer from calcium deficiency. Although this gives us a vague idea about the statistic, it still doesn’t tell us the exact number of people that suffer from calcium deficiency.


Contrary to relative numbers, absolute numbers give patients a precise number. For example, 10 people in a certain group have hypertension.


Why Is The Use Of Relative Numbers A Risk For Patients?

It impacts the effectiveness of shared decision-making


Shared decision-making is crucial to improve the quality of healthcare and ensure better treatment and diagnosis. However, using relative numbers to educate the patients about risks and benefits can lower the effectiveness of this process.


Because relative numbers don’t give the full picture, it might be misunderstood by the patient and they might end up making the wrong decisions regarding their health.




Patients may overestimate the benefits


The biggest issue with using relative numbers is that it doesn’t present the magnitude of the benefits of a treatment. This can lead to an increase in the patients’ expectations, and when the treatment doesn’t give the desired results, patients may feel dissatisfied with the treatments and their results.


It can increase the healthcare costs


Since relative numbers can lead to patients overestimating the benefits of the procedure, they will be willing to spend more money on certain treatments. However, this will cause the healthcare bills to rise, and they won’t even get the desired results.


IHBR Center Helps Improve Patient-Physician Interactions


If you want to learn more about the use of relative and absolute numbers in healthcare, reach out to the IHBR Center.

We also provide tips and techniques for ways to improve doctor-patient interactions. The IHBR Center is a platform for patients and doctors to access a wide range of resources, including online medical books related to communication skills in clinical practice and doctors’ training.


Contact us now for more details on how doctor-patient communication can help improve healthcare quality.



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