CHIBE News Archive

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Kevin Volpp Named Vice Chair of Health Policy

Source: Penn Medicine News, February 20, 2014

Kevin Volpp has been named Vice Chair of Health Policy, a new position created in Penn Medicine's Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy.  Zeke Emanuel, Chair of the Medical Ethics and Health Policy Department, comments that together with Dr. Steven Joffe, who was named Vice Chair of Medical Ethics, they will "help cement our department's national leadership in the areas of both health policy and medical ethics.”

Tags: Kevin Volpp

Increased Risks After Kidney Donation Very Low

Source: Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2014

A recent study in JAMA assessed the absolute risk a kidney donor faces after the operation and the added risk incurred as a result of it. Although the added risks from donating a kidney are very low, Scott Halpern comments that "people are notoriously bad" at weighing increased risks of unwanted outcomes against a very low probability that it will ever happen. He also offers that in order to help prospective donors make the right decision, transplant surgeons should ask them to focus on how low the probability of the poor outcome is to begin with.

CVS' Decision to Stop Selling Cigarettes

Source: New York Times, February 5, 2014; Philadelphia Inquirer, February 9, 2014

The nation's second-largest drug store chain, CVS Caremark, announced last week that it would stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products by October 2014, resulting in a projected annual revenue loss of two billion dollars. CHIBE advisory Board Members Troy Brennan and Steven Schroeder, wrote an op-ed article in JAMA making the case to eliminate tobacco products from drug stores. Dr. Brennan remarks "what we’re thinking about is if others want to emulate this business decision we’ve made, then over time that will make cigarettes less available — and scientific literature does suggest that a reduction in the availability of cigarettes reduces smoking.”

Geography Plays a Major Role in Access to Pediatric Kidney Transplantation in the U.S.

Source: Penn Medicine News;, January 16, 2014

A study recently published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology finds that waiting times for kidneys for children with renal disease can vary widely depending on which state you live in. Peter Reese and colleagues say this discrepancy is particularly troublesome because children awaiting kidney transplants must undergo kidney dialysis.

Tags: Peter Reese

The Fresh Start Effect

Source: Knowledge@Wharton, January 6, 2014; The Daily Pennsylvanian, January 16, 2014; ThinkAdvisor, January 27, 2014

Wharton researchers Hengchen Dai, Katherine Milkman and Jason Riis found that "fresh starts" demarcated by temporal landmarks, such as a birthday, the beginning of a school semester, or even next Monday, cause people to be more effective at setting goals and increasing their chances of achieving them. Now that they have demonstrated the existence of this "fresh start effect," Hengchen Dai notes "the next step is to determine how we can induce fresh starts in the workplace." 

Keeping New Year's Resolutions

Source: New York Times, January 3, 2014

In a New York Times "Gray Matter" commentary,  Kevin Volpp and Katherine Milkman provide behavioral economics-based insights into how consumers can better keep their New Year's resolutions. These insights are based on their own research and include "making a plan," using financially-based commitment devices, "temptation bundling" and mentor support systems.

Challenging Obesity Cases Helped By Incentives

Source: Slate, January 2, 2014

A recent Slate article describing ways to motivate people to exercise refer's to Kevin Volpp's study that took morbidly obese men and gave them financial incentives for meeting weight loss goals. The incentive groups both lost a significant amount of weight, but most subjects gained the weight back after four months. Although this was not a long term solution, this challenging group changed their behavior with the help of incentives.

Tags: Kevin Volpp

Incentives for Medication Adherence

Source: CNBC, December 18, 2013

As part of CNBC's "Innovation Cities" series, the network interviewed Kevin Volpp along with Project Managers Amanda Hodlofski and Lisa Wesby about their research incentivizing medication adherence using GlowCaps. These studies provide immediate feedback to participants using small incentives for taking prescribed medications.

Doctors Aren't Learning Cost-Conscious Care

Sources: Penn Medicine, Medical Daily, December 17, 2013

A new research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine by Mitesh Patel finds that less than 15 percent of internal medicine residency programs have a forma; curriculum addressing the cost of care. “Teaching new physicians to practice high-value, cost-conscious care has been recognized as a national priority,” Patel said.

Tags: Mitesh Patel

Behavioral Economics and Low Value Care

Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, December 13, 2013

In November, CHIBE co-hosted a conference with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Donaghue Foundation focusing on applying behavioral economic concepts to reduce the use of low-value health care. Six grantees of the Applying Behavioral Economics Initiative discussed interventions that will test these behavioral economic concepts over next two years.

Innovation Tournament at RWJF Conference

Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, December 4, 2013

At the RWJF/Donaghue/CHIBE Conference on Applying Behavioral Economics to Perplexing Problems in Health and Health Care, attendees competed in an innovation tournament  to identify testable ideas that leverage behavioral economic principles to help make people healthier by working with commercial entities. The winning team addressed the issue of texting while driving by proposing an app that could be installed onto a cell phone to send reminders not to text while driving. The top three teams won Amazon gift cards.

Lotteries Effective for Completion of Health Risk Assessments

Source: Human Resource Executive, December 4, 2013

Kevin Volpp explains how lotteries are an effective tool for getting employees to complete heath risk assessments. "Lotteries are designed to take advantage of both the fact that people are not good at estimating probabilities and that they can anticipate the regret they would feel if they don't win something they could have easily won," he says.


Tags: Kevin Volpp

Numerically Driven Guidelines for CVD treatment

Source: New York Times, November 29, 2013

In response to the recent change in CVD treatment guidelines, Jason Karlawish authored an Op-Ed in the New York Times, noting that new numerically driven guidelines are "a revolutionary shift. Once upon a time, medicine was a discipline based on the nuanced diagnosis and treatment of sick patients. Now, Big Data, networked computers and a culture obsessed with knowing its numbers have moved medicine from the bedside to the desktop (or laptop). The art of medicine is becoming the science of an insurance actuary. "

Using ‘The Hunger Games’ to Encourage Healthier Choices

Source: Knowledge@Wharton, November 19, 2013;, November 22, 2013

Katherine Milkman's recent research evaluates a concept she coined as "temptation bundling." The study coupled listening to audio books such as "The Hunger Games" with going to the gym and found that  “attendance rates increased meaningfully and significantly with access to the temptation bundling program, suggesting that temptation bundling creates value.” Kevin Volpp adds that further research could also look at how employers and insurers can use temptation bundling as a way to encourage healthier living.

The ACA's Rocky Road Forward

Source: LDI Health Economist, November 2013

University of Pennsylvania health care management professors Mark Duggan, Dan Polsky and Ezekiel Emanuel took to the stage to examine the future of the ACA at a Wharton School Lifelong Learning forum in Washington.

Tags: Dan Polsky

Lowering the Cost of Medical Education

Source: Penn Medicine News, November 1, 2013

In a perspective published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, David Asch argues that lowering the cost of health care requires lowering the cost of medical education. Asch and co-authors write "if we want to keep health care costs down and still have access to well-qualified physicians, we need to keep the cost of creating those physicians down by changing the way that physicians are trained. From college through licensure and credentialing, our annual physician-production costs are high, and they are made higher by the long time we devote to training."

Tags: David Asch

Incentives for Organ Donation

Source: CBS News, CBS Philly, Medpage Today, October 25, 2013, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 3, 2013

A recently published study estimated that a $9,648 incentive per living donor would increase the number of kidneys available for transplant by 5%. In an accompanying editorial, Peter Reese suggested that it is time to conduct a study which would look into a limited trial of offering incentives for organ donation. He also commented that financial incentives that are legal and less controversial than direct payment should also be explored.

Tags: Peter Reese

Innovation Tournament at CHIBE Retreat

Source: LDI Health Economist, October 2013

At the annual two-day Penn-CMU Roybal Center for Behavioral Economics and Health retreat at Cape May's Congress Hall, CHIBE conducted an experiment exploring how innovation tournament methodology might be applied to the scholarly research process. The theme was to identify ways to increase enrollment in behavioral economic studies. Two winning ideas each were awarded $10,000 in funding to further pursue their hypotheses. Kevin Volpp commented that the innvoation tournament "worked out really well with a lot of energy and team building that generated many ideas that were quite good."

Tags: Kevin Volpp

Karen Glanz Elected to IOM

Source: Institute of Medicine, October 21, 2013

The Institute of Medicine announced 70 new members during its 43rd annual meeting. Karen Glanz, professor of epidemiology and nursing and affiliated faculty at CHIBE, was among those elected. The statement notes that, "Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service."

Tags: Karen Glanz

A Healthier Work Force Means Lower Health Care Costs

Source: NPR Marketplace, October 19, 2013

In an interview with NPR, Kevin Volpp spoke to how employers are increasingly recognizing the fact that the health habits of their employees are one of the top challenges to affordable benefits coverage. Companies commonly incentivize their employees by lowering insurance premiums for healthy outcomes. Kevin commented that "the ideal program really does provide people with much more in the way of ongoing, frequent feedback.  And, rewards that happen in the present, not just in the future." 

Tags: Kevin Volpp