Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics News Archive

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Study Finds Premium-Based Financial Incentives Did Not Promote Workplace Weight Loss

Sources: Penn Medicine News, US News & World Report, Philadelphia Inquirer, NPR, NPR BlogChicago Tribune, Kaiser Health News, WebMD, HealthDayMedical Xpress, WDAM, Metro, Human Resource Executive, PhillyVoice,  Health Affairs Podcast, January 6, 2016

A study led by Dr. Mitesh Patel, published in Health Affairs, revealed that three different types of incentive programs using either health insurance premium adjustments or lottery-based financial incentives were ineffective for promoting weight loss in a randomized trial using weight scales in the workplace. Authors note that the apparent failure of the incentives to promote weight loss suggests that employers encouraging weight reduction and other healthy lifestyle choices through workplace wellness programs should test incentive designs different from the typical premium-based financial incentives. 

Tags: Mitesh Patel

"Wearable Devices as Facilitators of Health Behavior Change" Among Top 5 JAMA Articles of 2015

Source: Center for Health Care Innovation,  December 30, 2015

"Wearable Devices as Facilitators, Not Drivers, of Health Behavior Change," an article written by Mitesh Patel, David Asch and Kevin Volpp was named one of the top five most popular articles of 2015 by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). According to Altmetric, the article was viewed more than 40,000 times, covered by 15 news outlets, tweeted about by 992 Twitter users and mentioned on 58 Facebook pages.

Kevin Volpp to lead NEJM catalyst theme, “Patient Engagement: Behavioral Strategies for Better Health"

Source: New England Journal of Medicine, December 17, 2015

NEJM Group announced the launch of NEJM Catalyst, an online resource that offers a combination of multimedia content, web events, expert panels, and new research. NEJM Catalyst articles, case studies, video talks and events are organized around key themes impacting health care today. Kevin Volpp will lead the NEJM catalyst theme, “Patient Engagement: Behavioral Strategies for Better Health" on February 25th, 2016.

Tags: Kevin Volpp

Kevin Volpp Featured as Keynote Speaker in GHDonline Video Interview about Designing Provider Incentives

Source: GHDonline, December 7, 2015

As part of the GHDonline's Breakthrough Opportunities Event Series, Kevin Volpp was featured as the first Keynote Speaker in a video interview about designing provider incentives. In the video, Kevin shares his latest work on how lessons from behavioral economics and psychology can be leveraged to develop design principles for financial and nonfinancial provider incentives.

Tags: Kevin Volpp

Heather Schofield Featured in NPR Story Examining the Economic Consequences of Poor Sleep in India

Source: NPR, December 2, 2015

Heather Schofield's research was recently featured in a NPR story entitled "A Bad Night's Sleep Might Do More Harm Than You Think." In the story, Heather discusses the real-world impact that chronic sleep deprivation could have on how people make decisions

New York Times Article on Wearable Devices Highlights JAMA Op-Ed Piece by Mitesh Patel

Source: The New York Times, November 16, 2015 

A New York Times Article entitled "Assessing the Fitness of Wearable Tech" highlighted an opinion piece featured in the Journal of the American Medical Association written by Mitesh Patel along with David Asch and Kevin Volpp.   

Effect of Financial Incentives on Lipid Levels

Sources: JAMAThe Philadelphia Inquirer, CBS News, US News & World ReportHealthDay, Newsworks, MedPage Today, LDI, AJMC, UK News, Endocrinology Advisor, Food World News, Daily Mail, Yahoo Finance, Health Medicine Network, American Pharmacists' Association, Entertainmentwise, Health Insurance & Protection Daily, November 12, 2015.

A recent study led by Dr. David Asch and Dr. Kevin Volpp, published in JAMA, found that providing financial incentives to both primary care physicians and patients leads to a greater reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in patients than paying only the physician or only the patient. This was the first study to test physician-only and patient-only incentives compared to incentives shared by patients and physicians. The study used the Way to Health Platform to enroll 340 physicians and 1,503 patients.

8th annual Penn-CMU Roybal Center Retreat

Source: LDI E-Magazine, October 22. 2015

The Penn-CMU Roybal Center Retreat brings together academic experts from Penn's LDI Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE) in Philadelphia, and Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Behavioral Decision Research (CBDR). This year, the retreat featured an array of events including several faculty presentations, CHIBE "Mad Libs" and a team-building scavenger hunt. to Offer More Tools to Help Consumers

Source: Penn LDI October 9, 2015

A study led by Charlene Wong on young adults' experiences on recommended several tools that are now being implemented into the upgraded website. New tools include an out-of pocket total cost estimator, tools that allow consumers to see if their preferred providers or hospitals are in-network across all plans, and an improved window-shopping experience, which allows consumers to see what’s available to them before creating an account.

White House Executive Order Mandates the Incorporation of Behavioral Economic Principals into Daily Government Operations

Source:  LDI E-Magazine, September 29, 2015

Kevin Volpp's research was cited in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (SBST) 2015 Annual Report that led to an executive order, signed by President Obama, mandating the incorporation of behavioral economic principals into daily government operations. Kevin Volpp attended the White House ceremony to mark the signing of the order by President Obama.

Tags: Kevin Volpp

Recent Washington Post Article Highlights HeartStrong Study

Source: The Washington Post, September 5, 2015

A recent Washington Post article, featuring David Asch, highlighted CHIBE's HeartStrong Study. The study, funded by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare, is currently testing new ways to motivate medication adherence - including greater involvement from friends and family in supporting adherence and the possibility to win daily financials incentives when successfully adhering to prescribed medication regiments.

The Economics of Sleep, Part 2

Source:, July 16, 2015

Listen to new Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy faculty member, Heather Schofield, discuss the economics of sleep with Stephen J. Dubner in the latest installment of Freakonomics Radio.

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Why Doctors Still Perform Unnecessary Medical Tests

Source: US News & World Report, May 27, 2015

A recent Health Affairs article, authored by David Asch and Peter Ubel, offers psychological explanations for why it is difficult for clinicians to "'de-innovate,' or give up old practices, even when new evidence reveals that those practices offer little value." To overcome the resistance to de-innovation, Asch and Ubel recommended that the task force's guideline development committees be made up of medical experts from a wide variety of domains with different clinical expertise so that they can cancel out each other's conformation bias.

Tags: David Asch

Kevin Volpp Awarded Matila White Riley Award and Lecture in Behavioral and Social Sciences

Source: NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, May 31, 2015

Kevin Volpp's work has earned him the 2015 Matilda White Riley Award, issued by the National Institutes of Health Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). The Matilda White Riley Award is given in recognition of an outstanding behavioral or social scientist whose research has contributed to both the deepening of knowledge and its application in a manner that furthers NIH’s mission of improving health. The 8th Matilda White Riley Award and Lecture will take place June 23, 2015, as part of the celebrations of the 20th Anniversary of OBSSR.

Tags: Kevin Volpp

Randomized Trial of Four Financial-Incentive Programs for Smoking Cessation

Sources: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Reuters, NBC News, CBS News, Fox NewsThe Guardian, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Huffington Post, US News & World Report, Business StandardNPR, ABC, Tech Times, Yahoo Finance, The Business JournalsKnowledge@WhartonLDI Health Economist, May 13, 2015

A study led by Scott Halpern, recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, compared five smoking cessation techniques in 2,538 employees of CVS, along with their friends and relatives. The study found that many more people signed up to a program that offered them an $800 reward than one that threatened them with losing a $150 deposit and only offered a $650 reward. However, those in the penalty program were twice as likely to quit.

"We found that those programs that first required people to deposit $150 of their own money were less acceptable to people than programs that were pure rewards," Halpern said.

"However, among those who would have accepted either program, the deposit-based programs were twice as effective as the rewards-based programs and five times more effective than the standard of care which was provision of free access to behavior modification therapy and nicotine replacement therapy."         

Cass Sunstein, director of The Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy at Harvard Law School, compared the penalty program to taxes in an editorial for the New England Journal of Medicine. 

Based on the results, "CVS Health is rolling out a campaign called '700 Good Reasons,'" Halpern said. "Instead of requiring a $150 deposit, it will require a $50 up-front deposit. If people are abstinent at 6 and 12 months, they'll not only get their $50 back but get an additional $700. Because they'll still have some skin in the game, it should be fairly effective."

Scott Halpern Elected to American Society for Clinical Investigation

Source: The American Society for Clinical Investigation, May 12, 2015

Scott Halpern has been elected to membership in the American Society For Clinical Investigation (ASCI), a century-old medical honors society that  supports the research work of physician-scientists. New members were announced and inducted by the ASCI Council at the organization's annual meeting in Chicago. Nomination and election to ASCI membership is based on the career accomplishment of "meritorious original, creative and independent investigations in the clinical and allied sciences of medicine."

Justin Bekelman Awarded PCORI Grant

Source: Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, April 22, 2015

Justin Bekelman, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at the medical school and CHIBE affiliated faculty member, will receive $11.9 million for a five-year study comparing the short and long-term effects of Proton versus Photon radiation therapy for patients with stage II or III breast cancer.

A consortium of 20 academic and community practice radiation therapy centers and related professional groups will conduct a randomized clinical trial in which 1,716 patients with stage II and II breast cancer involving lymph nodes under the arm or above the collarbone will receive after-surgery Proton or Photon therapy. Patients will be followed to determine differences in subsequent heart problems, cancer control and health-related quality of life measures.

Kevin Volpp Receives Distinguished Investigator Award

Source: Association for Clinical and Translational Science, April 18, 2015

At the Translational Science 2015 annual meeting, The Association for Clinical and Translational Science and The American Federation for Medication Research presented awards to investigators with outstanding contributions of investigators and educators in the field. Kevin Volpp was the recipient of the Distinguished Investigator Award for Career Achievement and Contribution to Clinical and Translational Science for Translation from Clinical Use into Public Benefit and Policy.

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Life Insurance Policy Uses Behavioral Economics to Reward Healthy Living

Source: The New York Times, April 8, 2015

John Hancock Insurance Company announced a new program being operated through a partnership with Vitality, a global wellness company that works with insurers throughout the US. The new program rewards insurers points for continuously sharing wellness data. Achieving different levels of points lead to discounts on annual life insurance premiums. Kevin Volpp commented that the program “...changes the paradigm of life insurance, in some sense, it tries to change your insurance into less of a passive vehicle that pays the bills if something happens, into a more active vehicle to get people to lower their risk.”

Tags: Kevin Volpp

How Physicians Can Use Behavioral Economics to Improve Patient Care

Source: GI & Hepatology News, March 20, 2015

In an interview at the 2015 AGA Tech Summit, David Asch discusses how physicians can incorporate the principles of behavioral economics into their practices to improve patient care.

Tags: David Asch