All Posts By

Melissa Ostroff

Displaying Lab Test Costs in Electronic Health Records Doesn’t Deter Doctors from Ordering Them

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Patients are stuck for a blood draw almost every day they are admitted to a hospital.  Lab tests are one of the most common orders placed by doctors, but research indicates that nearly one-third of these tests are not needed. Hospitals nationwide are seeking ways to use price transparency – displaying the price of lab tests at the time when doctors are placing the order – to nudge doctors to consider whether the benefits are worth the cost. But, results of a new study by Mitesh Patel, MD, MBA, MS, show that simply displaying the Medicare allowable fees did not…

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New York Times: How behavioral economics can produce better health care

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A New York Times Upshot article by Dr. Dhruv Khullar profiles the research of Dr. Kevin Volpp as part of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics. Khullar says that “insights [from behavioral economics] might be particularly valuable in health care because medical decision-making is permeated with uncertainty, complexity and emotion — all of which make it hard to weigh our options.”

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Hardwiring Patient Engagement to Deliver Better Health

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Providers often throw up their hands in frustration when they see the same patients repeatedly readmitted to the hospital for behaviors such as failing to take their medications at home or eating a high salt diet when they have heart failure. Many acute exacerbations of chronic disease are from patients having trouble following through with provider recommendations — whether to eat healthy foods, watch fluid balance, take medications, lose weight, quit smoking, or avoid alcohol or other drugs. Generally, the standard approaches clinicians take to address these issues, such as cajoling or providing information in a brief face-to-face encounter, don’t…

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Some strategies to limit sugary drinks may backfire

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New research from Leslie John, Phd, published in Psychological Science finds that some strategies to reduce sugary drink consumption can actually generate the opposite effect.  In particular, offering smaller cup sizes with free refills actually increases sugary drink consumption. “Our research provides insight into the effectiveness of a portion limit policy,” John says. “We identify one circumstance – bundling – where the reduction in purchasing of sugar-sweetened beverages is likely to be realized, and another – refills – where the policy can in certain cases have an unintended consequence of increasing consumption.” Read more at Medical Xpress and UPI.

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Doctors, patients more likely to approve flu vaccine when given electronic prompts

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In a recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Mitesh Patel found that adding an active choice mechanism to patients’ electronic health records increased rates of flu vaccination. “Our results indicate that this simple intervention could be an effective and scalable approach to use the design of electronic health records to increase the rate of flu vaccinations, which are estimated to prevent millions of flu cases and tens of thousands of related hospitalizations every year,” said Patel. Read more from Philly Voice, Becker’s Hospital Review, FiercePharma, KTTN/KGOZ, and  Penn Medicine News.

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Scott Halpern Honored with 2017 Translational Science Awards

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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…

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A/B Testing Health Behavior

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Medicine has been accused of implementing new interventions without a strong underlying evidence base, and that impulse for quick implementation is understandable, says Scott Halpern, Deputy Director for the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics. “We have sick people. We need to do something. We can’t sit idly by,” he says. “But I wonder if that instinct to not just stand there — to do something — might have some unintended consequences, crowding out the potential for greater innovation that has better evidence to support it.” What can we learn from other industries that have grappled…

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

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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. Read more from Voice of America.

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RWJF: How Behavioral Economics Can (and Can’t) Boost Health

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What the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation learned from a six-year exploration As the bestsellers started piling up, from 2008’s Predictably Irrational and Nudge to 2011’s Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow, the buzz around behavioral economics — the science and practice of nudging people toward a particular decision — could be heard from the classroom to the board room. Many dismissed it as a passing fad. Some balked at its paternalism. Others considered it “kinda creepy.” We at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation were cautiously optimistic. Could behavioral economics, a tool that has helped people save money, also help save people’s lives? Could its power be…

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

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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. Read more from HERO.

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