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Healthcare IT News: Analyzing behavioral economics and psychology are key to engaging patients to make meaningful changes

“‘The idea that we should educate people and help them make better decisions has only minimal effectiveness,’ says David Asch, MD, executive director of Penn Medicine’s Center for Health Care Innovation. Despite massive public health campaigns and targeted physician interventions to educate them about the risks, ‘people still smoke, people still fail to put on a seatbelt,’ he said. Same too for patients who are told they need to lose weight or take their prescribed medications on time. At the HIMSS and Healthcare IT News Patient Engagement & Experience Summit on March 5, Asch will offer some perspective on another tool that could help get patients more engaged and drive changes in their behavior: behavioral economics. At its core, behavioral economics is the study of human psychology as it relates to people’s decision-making processes. With the era of consumerism upon the healthcare industry, it’s time to start adopting some of the innovative techniques other industries use to reach their consumers and influence their behavior. ‘So much of what we do in everyday life is designed around an understanding of how people ought to behave,’ he said. ‘We create financial and performance incentives at work to make people try to increase their productivity and the quality of their work. We put nutrition labels on food so people can be informed about the things they’re eating. And in healthcare, we give instructions to people about the importance of taking their medications.’ Behavioral economics has shown that consumers are not always rational, even when equipped with all that information – in fact, their decision-making is often quite irrational. ‘But the key promise of behavioral economics is that we’re irrational in highly predictable ways,’ said Asch.” Read the rest at Healthcare IT News.