Concept of "Long Tail" Applied to Medicine

DB's Medical Rants is a must-read medical blog, especially if you are involved in teaching of medical students, residents or fellows. The blog author is Robert Centor, the immediate past president of the SGIM, who often has unconventional ideas and bold insights and is not shy to share them online.

"The phrase The Long Tail was first coined by Chris Anderson in an October 2004 Wired magazine article to describe the niche strategy of businesses, such as or Netflix, that sell a large number of unique items in relatively small quantities. However, the concept of a frequency distribution with a long tail — the concept at the root of Anderson's coinage — has been studied by statisticians since at least 1946."

Dr. Centor illustrates the application of "The Long Tail" concept to medicine by listing some relative rare conditions which should be included in the differential diagnosis of pharyngitis:

Image source: DB’s Medical Rants.

Separating clinicians from automatons: the long tail. Notes from Dr. RW, 08/2008.

Updated: 08/07/2008

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