How a March Madness Approach Can Help You Make Better Software Decisions

The 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament kicks off this week with 68 teams competing for the championship. Predicting the winner isn’t easy, even for the most die-hard fans of men’s college basketball.

There’s a method to the “March Madness,” however, that researchers say could help anyone faced with an important decision and several choices. A tournament elimination approach can increase chances of picking the best option — whether it’s a car, home or new medical billing software for your practice.

So how’s the NCAA basketball tournament approach going to help? Turns out their ‘sequential tournament’ strategy increases chance for making the right decision by 50%, economist Tibor Besedes and colleagues report in a new study from MIT Press.

They compared the effectiveness of three decision-making strategies:

Photo of Tibor Besedes

Lead study author Tibor Besedes. Photo by Rob Felt.

* Simultaneous choice – considering all options at the same time.
* Sequential elimination – choosing one option among an initial group of four, then keeping that choice and comparing it to three new options in each subsequent round until you make a final decision.
* Sequential tournament – selecting the best among groups of 4 options, with the winner from each advancing to the next round, analogous to the ‘March Madness’ approach.

The sequential tournament approach yielded the best choices when Besedes and colleagues asked 111 volunteers to choose among 16 different options. The catch? Participants liked this strategy the least – it took longer and required them to abandon their previous decisions.

Interestingly, ‘sequential elimination’ did not drive better decisions than ‘simultaneous choice.’ People tend to stick with their initial choices when presented with new choices, even if they’re better, the researchers suggest in their Reducing Choice Overload Without Reducing Choices study.

If you’re like most physicians or practice managers, you face important decisions all the time. Many choices you make can have significant financial and other implications for your practice for years to come. Hopefully, the tournament strategy will be worth a try the next time your practice searches to upgrade your electronic health records or to outsource your revenue cycle management.

Speaking of which, if you’re trying to find the best EHR or practice management software, find out why you should include CareCloud in your ‘March Madness’ style decision-making. View Demo Video.