Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Improve Heart Failure Care and Outcomes

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Abstract

Behavioral challenges are often present in human illness, so behavioral economics is increasingly being applied in healthcare settings to better understand why patients choose healthy or unhealthy behaviors. The application of behavioral economics to healthcare settings parallels recent shifts in policy and reimbursement structures that hold providers accountable for outcomes that are dependent on patient behaviors. Numerous studies have examined the application of behavioral economics principles to policy making and health behaviors, but there are limited data on applying these concepts to the management of chronic conditions, such as heart failure (HF). Given its increasing prevalence and high associated cost of care, HF is a paradigm case for studying novel approaches to improve health care; therefore, if we can better understand why patients with HF make the choices they do, then we may be more poised to help them manage their medications, influence daily behaviors, and encourage healthy decision making. In this article, we will give a brief explanation of the core behavioral economics concepts that apply to patients with HF. We will also examine how to craft these concepts into tools such as financial incentives and social networks that may improve the management of patients with HF. We believe that behavioral economics can help us understand barriers to change, encourage positive behaviors, and offer additional approaches to improving the outcomes of patients with HF.

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