In the mid-1990s, Shetty began experimenting with a business school concept alternately called upskilling or task-shifting. The idea is for everyone involved in a complex process to work only at the top of his qualification, leaving simpler tasks to lower-paid workers. In a hospital, this might mean that the costliest staff—experienced surgeons—enter the operating theater only to complete the most difficult part of a procedure, leaving everything else to junior doctors or well-trained nurses. Then they move to the next theater to perform the same task again.


This is from Ari Alstedter, “The World’s Cheapest Hospital Has to Get Even Cheaper,” Pocket Worthy. (Originally published in Bloomberg Business Week, March 25, 2019.)

Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution published it as a link today. It’s fascinating all the way through. It’s a beautiful study in applied economics. If I were still teaching, I would use it in every course I teach. The above quote is a nice illustration of comparative advantage.