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Melissa Ostroff

Penn Spotlight: In the Quest for Lasting Behavior Change, Two Researchers Lead the Charge

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Have you ever made a commitment to exercise more often? You sign up with a gym and succeed for a time but soon, too soon, the enthusiasm fades. Eventually, your workout clothes gather dust and your gym membership does nothing but empty your wallet. In the short term, changing behavior is doable, even exciting, but it’s really hard to make that change permanent. Ask anyone who has ever tried to quit smoking or eat less junk food. There’s a reason the phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” exists within popular vernacular. But Penn researchers Angela Duckworth and Katherine Milkman, along…

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LDI eMagazine: Photo Page – 2017 Penn/CMU Roybal Behavioral Economics Retreat

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The 10th annual University of Pennsylvania/Carnegie Mellon University Roybal Behavioral Economics Retreat convened at the Skytop Lodge and Conference Center here in the Poconos. In the Evergreen Ballroom (above), Associate Professor at Penn’s School of Nursing and LDI Senior Fellow Alison Buttenheim, PhD, MBA, leads a workshop on behavioral studies design. Two organizations collaborate in the ongoing NIH P30 Center of Excellence Roybal research program: Penn’s Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE), and CMU’s Center for Behavioral and Decision Research (CBDR).   Skytop Lodge (above, left) is a massive complex that sits atop a Pocono plateau and hides much of its bulk underground….

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The New York Times: Kept in the Dark About Doctors, but Having to Pick a Health Plan

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It’s open enrollment season for Affordable Care Act marketplace plans, Medicare Advantage plans and many employer-sponsored plans as well. Lots of evidence suggests you should shop around, and shop carefully, though this is harder than it sounds. When you select a health care plan, you probably consider premiums, and maybe you check deductibles and other cost sharing. But you can’t easily scrutinize the plans’ networks and the quality of the doctors in them. That’s too bad, because you may be missing something important. Many health insurance options offered by employers or sold on the Obamacare marketplace come with narrower networks — covering treatment from…

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Harvard Business Review: How to Reduce Primary Care Doctors’ Workloads While Improving Care

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Not long ago, many services such as tax accounting were delivered episodically and in-person, as most health care still is today. Periodically, a client and accountant would meet, review financial materials and status and, at the end of the encounter, make an appointment for the next meeting. Increasingly, in-person accountant visits have been replaced by phone or web meetings and do-it-yourself software like TurboTax. There is still a need for accountants and face-to-face meetings, but typically accountants now require such visits for only the more complicated cases that can’t be managed with software or a call. Health care has proved…

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LDI eMagazine: Penn Medicine’s David Asch Testifies Before Senate

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Although the potential benefits of employee wellness programs are often overblown, the potential for the ultimate success of such programs is increasing as scientific experiments discover new ways to more effectively design these health plan elements, Penn Medicine’s David Asch told a U.S. Senate panel last week. A University of Pennsylvania professor, Executive Director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation and a widely recognized national authority in the evolving field of behavioral economics, Asch, MD, MBA, was one of four top experts to testify on the subject before the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. That hearing came at the end of…

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WHYY: Penn receives $6.4 million from NIMH for new mental health center

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A $6.4 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health will fund a new research center at the University of Pennsylvania to study how evidence-based treatment can better circulate to more therapists and mental health care providers. Researchers want to try to reduce the “research to practice gap” in mental health. Rinad Beidas, an assistant professor of psychiatry and director of implementation research at Penn, said it takes 17 years for a small percentage of research to make its way into community settings. “That means that if an innovation today was developed to treat a particular condition, it’s likely…

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Reuters: Young diabetics may check sugar more when money’s at stake

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Teens and young adults with diabetes may do a better job of checking their blood sugar when they get daily financial incentives than when there’s no cash on the line, a recent experiment suggests. Researchers tested out the potential for money to motivate young people to test blood sugar daily by offering $60 a month up front and then subtracting $2 for each day a participant didn’t follow through on required testing. For three months, researchers randomly selected 90 teens and young adults to get these cash incentives or no reward at all. Overall, the youth with money at stake…

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Healthcare Finance: A healthier population will lead to lower healthcare costs, healthcare pros tell Senate panel

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Perhaps the simplest way to reduce healthcare costs is to promote a healthier lifestyle among the U.S. population, experts told the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions on Thursday. The testimony was framed in the context of employer-sponsored health plans, and focused on initiatives employers can take to improve employees’ health and mitigate the financial burden to the healthcare system. Statistics indicate the opportunity for such programs to make a significant difference. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthcare costs represented just 9 percent of gross domestic product in 1980. Flash forward to 2017, and those…

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LDI Symposium Highlights Promising Behavioral Solutions to Public Health Challenges

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Earlier this month, our founding partner, the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, celebrated 50 years of research with a symposium drawing together some of the brightest minds in health policy. At a panel focused on the potential for behavioral science to influence health care, CHIBE Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD joined External Advisory Board member Robert Galvin, MD, Internal Advisory Board member Barbara Kahn, PhD, MBA, MPhil and renowned Duke University behavioral economist Peter Ubel, MD to outline behavioral solutions that address premature mortality in the United States. The panel, moderated by Internal Advisory Board member David Asch, MD,…

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Washington Post: Maryland to offer online shopping tool for common medical procedures

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The Maryland Health Care Commission, the state’s independent regulatory agency, is unveiling a website on which people scheduling a hip replacement, knee replacement, hysterectomy or vaginal delivery can see price differences among different providers for the same procedure. The site is launching amid rising health-care costs and as some consumers turn to insurance plans with high deductibles. The state site is meant to give consumers a tool to compare prices and quality on four common medical procedures at hospitals around the state that patients otherwise would have difficulty finding on their own. By showing ranges of costs — hip replacement surgery in…

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