Does Radiation Oncology follow the “O-Ring” model?

The O-Ring model is an interesting conceptual idea: (from the paper attached herein)

Many production processes consist of a series of tasks, mistakes in any of which can dramatically reduce the product’s value. The space shuttle Challenger had thousands of components: it exploded because it was launched at a temperature that caused one of those components, the O-rings, to malfunction. “Irregular” garments with slight imperfections sell at half price. Companies can fail due to bad marketing, even if the product design, manufacturing, and accounting are excellent. This paper argues that the analysis of such processes can help explain several stylized facts in development and labour economics.

Therein lies one of the most important (and under-reported) global changes in the last twenty years.  It is now possible to have a decent public health system in a country with poor or mediocre political and economic institutions.

In other words, public health is no longer such an O-Ring service, an O-Ring service being one where everything has to go right for the service to be of decent quality.  And advances are much, much easier when the O-Ring structure no longer rules.

The O-Ring citation is to a famous Michael Kremer paper — a trip to the moon is definitely an O-Ring process, because if one step is off the whole mission probably is a failure.  But tasty fish curry is not — you can get a splendid version in some pretty dumpy countries, maybe even a better version in poorer places.

Electricity, however, it seems is still an O-Ring service

Radiation Oncology is perhaps an excellent example of O-Ring model. It requires several moving parts to move in perfect unison to ensure the safety of deliverability.

Via Public health is no longer an O-Ring production function – Marginal REVOLUTION

[embeddoc url=”″ viewer=”google” ]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.