Framing Financial Incentives For the Overweight & Obese – PRC Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD

A study by PRC Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, and other health behavior researchers at the University of Pennsylvania shows that financial incentives for increasing physical activity are highly effective among the population of overweight and obese.

“Most workplace wellness programs typically offer the reward after the goal is achieved,” said senior author Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD. “Our findings demonstrate that the potential of losing a reward is a more powerful motivator and adds important knowledge to our understanding of how to use financial incentives to encourage employee participation in wellness programs.”

The study was reported on in the Knowridge Science Report and was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.



NEJM Patient Engagement Insights Report: Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD

nejmcatalyst-volpp-9-8-16University of Pennsylvania PRC Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, and Namita S. Mohta, MD of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, analyze the second NEJM Catalyst Insights Council Survey on Patient Engagement.

The majority of the respondents to the online survey sent in July 2016 were clinicians (53%), with executives (22%) and clinician leaders (25%) nearly evenly split.  Most describes their organizations as hospitals or health systems.

“Nearly half of respondents say their patient engagement initiatives are having a major (14%) to moderate (34%) impact on quality outcomes,” said Volpp. “That’s pretty remarkable considering we are still in the earlier stages of patient engagement and that many potential approaches have yet to be fully scaled and integrated into practice. Interestingly, clinical leaders (60%) feel more strongly than executives (47%) and clinicians (43%) that their efforts to engage patients are working.”

Volpp and Mohta note that with the shift to value-based payment models, there may be more of an imperative to design and test new ideas to engage patients between visits that will improve both cost and quality.





Does Competition Positively Impact Physical Activity? : PRC Researchers Kevin Volpp and David Asch

Volpp-Asch combo 7.27.16 PRC Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, and PRC Researcher David Asch, MD, MBA, compare the effectiveness of different combinations of social comparison feedback and financial incentives to increase physical activity in a study in the July/August issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion.

In one of the first randomized trials to test different combinations of social comparison feedback and financial incentives, the researchers found that social comparison to the median with financial incentives was more effective than social comparison to the top quartile without incentives.  In the social comparison condition, participants, grouped by team,  were provided with feedback on their performance and the performance of other teams.  “By focusing social comparison feedback on performance relative to other teams,” the researchers suggest, “we leverage individuals’ competitive drive to motivate behavior change.” These findings may help to guide larger evaluations of interventions to increase physical activity using social comparison feedback and financial incentives.


Read more about this study at LiveScience.

AcademyHealth Article-of-the-Year Award: PRC Director Kevin Volpp and PRC Researcher David Asch

Volpp-Asch combo 7.27.16PRC Director Kevin Volpp, MD, PhD, and PRC Researcher David Asch, MD, MBA, were recognized for their significant contribution to the fields of health services research and health policy with the AcademyHealth Article-of-the-Year Award.

Volpp, MD, PhD, is the founding Director of LDI’s Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE), a Professor of Medicine and Vice Chairman for Health Policy of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, and a Professor of Health Care Management at the Wharton School.

Asch, MD, MBA, is Executive Director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, a Co-Director of the National Clinical Scholars Program, and a Professor of both Medicine at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine and Health Care Management at the Wharton School.

Originally published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in November of 2015, the winning paper and its study were the latest to address the issue of how best to improve patient outcomes via financial incentives. The project’s different tack was to test pay-for-performance incentives on just doctors, just patients and then on doctors AND patients together.

The award, which recognizes the year’s “best scientific work in the fields of health services research and health policy” was presented at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting in Boston on June 28 .











On NPR: PRC Director Kevin Volpp and New Strategies For Health Behavior Changes

KevinVolpp(3cu)-OutsideLeadershipMeeting-10-6-15On NPR’s Health News, PRC Director, Kevin Volpp, MD, discussed new strategies for changing health behaviors.




Volpp suggests that “commitment contracts” produce better results than traditional workplace rewards programs when it comes to tying financial incentives to goals. Reward programs usually offer a lump payment at the end of a full year.  Commitment contracts involve an upfront investment which participants recoup if they meet self-designed goals and forfeit if they do not.  Volpp and colleagues at the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics have found that short-term goals are more successful than long-term, when it comes to health behavior changes, and that immediate financial loss has greater impact than far-in-the-future financial gain.