A recent article published in QJM, Journal of Medicine discusses changing the culture within healthcare by the use of behavioral economics. By combining lessons learnt through psychology and economics, behavioral economics tries to understand how emotions, self-identification, the environment and receiving of information has an influence on a person’s behavior. 1 Many of our decisions are made from an emotional standpoint, or effectively “without thinking”. Thus, behavioral health relies not on education level but on how and why individuals make certain decisions. One method of understanding behavioral economics is the placement of healthy food in a grocery store. This placement can affect how people choose items to purchase. Behavioral economics can also incorporate the use of games or friendly competition and can appeal to the emotional nature of people through instant gratification and rewards. These tactics may trigger some motivation in people
Due to the number of individuals living with type 2 diabetes in the U.S. this condition is reaching epic proportions. The number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes continues to grow with a predicted world-wide growth of 54% from 2010 to 2030. In addition to this rapid growth, the global cost to manage this condition is also set to rise from $376 billion to $490 billion by 2030. Increased rates of type 2 diabetes can be related to urbanization, decreased physical activity, and increased access to processed foods.2 Using the principles of behavioral economics, healthcare facilities may be able to target those at risk of prediabetes, improve healthcare outcomes and reduce cost.
Other examples of ways healthcare facilities can use behavioral economics is through auto-filling prescriptions for longer periods of time such as 90 days instead of 30 days, this helps maintain a supply of medication and reduces the risk of the patient running out and less often, having a follow-up appointment already arranged prior to discharge so patients do not have to think about trying to arrange a visit or providing healthy meals for patients unable to shop or cook for themselves