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Doctors, economist, write prescription for protecting people from themselves
Date:11/27/2007

health of the population is enormous, said study author George Loewenstein, the Herbert A. Simon Professor of Economics and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon.

Asymmetric paternalism can be used to help people get better medical care, give up bad habits such as smoking, or even exercise more. Gym visits or routine lab tests, such as cholesterol screenings, can be automatically scheduled so that the patient has to incur added inconvenience to cancel them rather than, as is currently the case, to schedule them. People often miss out on routine but life-saving medical tests simply because they fail to schedule appointments. Health care providers should automatically schedule the next test when the patient comes in for the current test. The potential for these approaches to improve health is immense, and some of the up-front costs of incentive programs could be paid by employers or insurers in anticipation of improvements in health and productivity that likely would follow.

The paper was co-authored by Kevin Volpp, a staff physician at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center and an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Wharton School; and Troy Brennan with Aetna Inc.

Modifying health behaviors such as smoking is an enormous and important public health challenge. Despite tremendous progress, smoking still causes more than 400,000 preventable deaths per year. But these approaches have the potential to be more effective than many approaches that have been used to date, Volpp said.


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Contact: Jonathan Potts
jpotts@andrew.cmu.edu
412-268-6094
Carnegie Mellon University
Source:Eurekalert

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