Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics News Archive

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Scott Halpern Honored with 2017 Translational Science Awards

March 17, 2017

CHIBE Deputy Director Scott Halpern, MD, PhD, MBE was recognized this week with two awards as part of the Translational Science 2017 Awards Program. Halpern received not only the Association for Clinical and Translational Science Distinguished Investigator: Translation from Clinical Use into Public Benefit and Policy Award, but also the American Federation for Medical Research Outstanding Investigator Award. The Outstanding Investigator Award is presented annually to an investigator age 45 or younger in recognition of excellence in biomedical research, while the Distinguished Investigator Award recognizes senior investigators who have had an impact on clinical and translational science resulting in a major change in clinical practice and health care for the benefit of the public.

Do You Trust Information You Don't Want to Hear?

Source: Voice of America, March 10, 2017

In the Journal of Economic Literature, a new study from Carnegie Mellon University explains how and why people deliberately avoid information that could threaten their happiness and well-being. "People often avoid information that could help them to make better decisions if they think the information might be painful to receive," said George Loewenstein, CHIBE Director of Behavioral Economics.

American Journal of Health Promotion Awards Mitesh Patel with Editor's Pick 2016

Source: HERO, February 16, 2017

The American Journal of Health Promotion recently announced its Papers of the Year for 2016, and CHIBE's Mitesh Patel was recognized with an Editor's Choice Award. Dr. Patel's article, "A Randomized Trial of Social Comparison Feedback and Financial Incentives to Increase Physical Activity," was selected for the award based on a five-fold criteria emphasizing the timeliness of the topic and the unique contribution of the paper to the literature.

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The Perplexing Psychology of Saving for Health Care

Source: NPR, February 15, 2017

Mitesh Patel provides insight on how behavioral economics intersects with health care savings behavior, and recommends new approaches to Health Care Savings accounts to leverage our predictable irrationality.

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Making Weight Loss Behavior Change Stick

Source: Forbes, January 31, 2017

In a Forbes piece, Duke University's Peter Ubel cites experiments by Kevin Volpp studying the impact of lotteries and regret avoidance on weight loss behaviors. Ubel argues that further research is needed to understand how these changes in behavior can be extended for long-lasting weight loss.

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Mitesh Patels Weighs In On New 'Smart Belt'

Source: Forbes, January 31, 2017

In an article on a new activity and waistline-tracking smart belt, WELT, Mitesh Patel, M.D., M.B.A., M.S. gives designers of the technology some feedback: "It would be helpful if [they] decrease[d] barriers to sustained use such as less frequent charging and being waterproof...We need more evidence on how to best design behavior-change strategies around these technologies.”

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How Might Wearables Transform Health Care Delivery?

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, January 20, 2017

Mitesh Patel speaks with the Inquirer about the possibilities and limitations of wearables in transforming health care delivery.

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Financial Incentives and Opportunities to Donate to Charity Increase Physical Activity in Older Adults

Source: Reuters, Penn Medicine News, Medical Xpress, January 13, 2017

Personal and social goals may be effective in motivating older adults to exercise, according to a study this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine from CHIBE researchers Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH and Jason Karlawish, MD.  In a 16 week period, both financial incentives and opportunity to donate to charity increased walking in older adults, by 2,348 steps and 2,562 steps per day, respectively.

This study is among the first few studies looking at the effectiveness of financial incentives in improving health behavior in older adults, and helps address some limitations of earlier studies.

Can Fitness Trackers Work Miracles?

Source: USA Today, January 8, 2017

In a USA Today article, CHIBE affiliated faculty member, Mitesh Patel, MD, MBA, MS is interviewed on the effectiveness of new fitness trackers, such as the Apple Watch, on reaching daily step count goals. Dr. Patel speaks to the importance of setting personal, realistic goals, rather than trying to reach 10,000 steps a day immediately.

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Kevin Volpp: How to Keep Your Fitness New Year's Resolution Without Breaking the Bank

Source: New York Magazine, January 6, 2017

New York Magazine interviews CHIBE Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD for evidence-based tips on sticking to fitness and weight loss goals in the New Year. Volpp tells the magazine: "When it comes to forming a habit, enjoyment is more significant than how much money you spend. The money can be well-spent or not well-spent depending on whether you persist in the activity you’re paying for.”

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Medicare Bundled Payments for Joint Replacements Incentivize Care Coordination and Cut Costs

Source: Kaiser Health News,, Science Daily, News Medical, Stat On Call, Healio, McKnight's, Nephrology News, Managed Care Magazine, Medscape, Benefits Pro, Becker's Hospital Review, Fierce Healthcare, Beloit Daily News, Managed Healthcare Executive, January 3, 2017

Bundled payment models can push Medicare and health system costs down considerably without sacrificing quality of care, according to new research from Amol Navathe, MD, PhD. The study, the first to combine hospital cost and Medicare claims data to identify drivers of joint replacement cost savings – evaluated costs and care quality at for hip and knee replacements performed from 2008-2015 at the five-hospital Baptist Health System (BHS) network in San Antonio, Texas. Results, published online in JAMA Internal Medicine, show that the average cost dropped 20.8 percent while the effect on quality of care was unchanged or improved.

Interviewed by Kaiser Health News, Navathe described the impact of bundled payments on clinician behavior: “Preplanning, setting of expectations and communicating up-front is resource intensive, when they have the incentive to do that they were willing to expend the extra resources to make that happen.”

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CHIBE Behavioral Economics Symposium Closes Seven-Year Research Program

Source: LDI eMagazine, January 3, 2017

The University of Pennsylvania LDI Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics' 2016 Behavioral Economics and Health Symposium was both a spotlight on the latest research work as well as the conclusion of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Donaghue Foundation funded program that began seven years ago. CHIBE played a lead role in the initiative whose goal was to explore the ways behavioral economics principles might be applied to health-related behaviors.

Heather Schofield Explains How Mental Bandwidth Impacts Poverty

Source: Knowledge@Wharton, December 28, 2016

In a recent American Economic Review paper, Heather Schofield, PhD reviews research on cognitive bandwidth and how it may affect the psychology around poverty. Schofield tells Knowledge@Wharton, "There are often stereotypes of people who make bad choices, and we’re really trying to understand what’s driving that. Is it the person or their circumstances?” 

Kit Delgado Discusses Research on Smartphone Breathalyzers

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, December 22, 2016

In an interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, CHIBE's Kit Delgado, MD, MS describes his recent work investigating the potential of smartphone breathalyzers to reduce drunk driving accidents. He discusses an upcoming study testing behavioral strategies to increase the effectiveness of this new technology. Delgado says, "Like exercise trackers and other connected devices, smartphone-paired Breathalyzers can act as a facilitator of healthy behavior change. However, without a behavioral strategy to promote continued engagement aimed at promoting better health or safety, people will stop using these devices over time. I’m interested in testing behavioral strategies that leverage smartphone Breathalyzers with the ultimate goal of reducing drunk-driving crashes."

Can Libraries Improve Health?

Source: BBC World Service, December 6, 2016

Carolyn Cannuscio, ScD, CHIBE-affiliated faculty member and director of research at the Center for Public Health Initiatives, was interviewed by BBC Radio about a new partnership with the Free Library of Philadelphia that trains library staff into community health partners.

CHIBE's Academic Home Launches Penn's First Online Master's Degree

Source: Penn Medicine News, November 30, 2016

The Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine has announced the launch of a new online Master of Health Care Innovation - the first online Master's degree at the University of Pennsylvania.

The degree program is an initiative to address the rapidly changing health care landscape by advancing innovation among mid-career health care professionals worldwide.  A selective cohort will engage in an 18-month program of online education led by faculty from the Perelman School of Medicine, the Wharton School, the Law School, and the Nursing School, including CHIBE Director Kevin Volpp. The program will also include two week-long sessions in Philadelphia. Learn more at

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George Loewenstein Talks 'Information Avoidance' and Bad Decisions

Source: Devex, November 23, 2016

CHIBE's George Loewenstein was interviewed by global development media platform, Devex, on his research on information avoidance, wherein individuals choose not to know information even though it is free and could improve their decision-making. Loewenstein describes how information avoidance can explain poor choices, and how this knowledge can be used to inform development policy. 

Information avoidance can also offer insight into increasingly polarized views on science. Loewenstein told Devex that "as science develops and new forms of data and data analysis capabilities emerge, you might think this would lead to convergence about scientific issues, but it’s not happening. If anything, the opposite is true." 

Why Aren't More Doctors Using Patient Engagement Tools?

Source: Medical Economics, November 9, 2016

Modern Medicine reports on a new study by CHIBE Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, showing that 69 percent of health care providers are using patient engagement to get patients more involved in their own care, while that number should be closer to 100 percent. "Achieving sustained behavioral change requires doctors to be involved in the day-to-day lives of their patients, not just during the patient’s appointments—and the most effective way doctors can do this is by utilizing patient engagement tools,” Volpp says.

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Kevin Volpp Research Cited in Medical Resident Work Hour Debate

Source: Forbes, November, 8, 2016

A Forbes article addresses an ongoing debate around work hour limits imposed on medical and surgical residents and cites a 2012 study led by CHIBE Director, Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, which found that cognitive performance of residents increased with protected sleep times.

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Mitesh Patel Comments on Value of Wearable Fitness Trackers

Source: Time, November 2, 2016

Time magazine interviewed Mitesh Patel, MD, MBA, MS to hear his take on the value of the new Apple Watch and other wearables for tracking fitness activity.

"Patel says wearables are most useful for consumers who are already focused on their fitness. Simply giving someone a new gizmo isn’t enough to change behaviors in a sustained way, particularly if the user has low motivation to begin with."

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