A story in today’s Monitor about the rise in telemedicine (read it here) contains this sentence:
In the first month and a half of the pandemic, there was a 11,718% increase in the number of Medicare beneficiaries using telehealth.
I always stumble over more-than-100%-increase statements. I never know whether to include the original amount: if you go from 50 things to 100 things, is that a 100% increase or a 200% increase?
This one really threw me. At first It thought this mean there were (11,718 X 100 = 1.17 million) times as many cases, which would have implies that only 300 or so cases existed earlier, since the U.S. population is 320 million. But it’s actually (11,718 / 100 = 117) times as many, which is more reasonable.
Saying “117-fold increase” or “117 times as many” would probably have been better for a story like this. Percents can throw people off.
Or a huge number grabs attention. Methinks the editor may have a flair for flair.
I was recently confronted by a Facebook rantish post that said something like “the rate of infection in NY is 567% higher than the rate of infection in FL”. The stated rates were something like 14% and 7%. (Don’t quote me on these numbers! I’m just approximating for this example).
I just can’t wrap my head around a percent increase in something that is already a percent. And how did that percent increase come out so big?
To me, the percent of infections in NY is simply 7% higher than in FL.
Any ideas out there?
the terminology you’re looking for is “percentage points” – so 14% vs. 7% is “7 percentage points higher” not “7 percent higher” … since it is twice as high it is a 100% increase – I agree, however, that talking about percentage change of percentage is very confusing and should be avoided.