- Chief, Division of Health Policy
- Director, Center for Health Incentives & Behavioral Economics
- Founders President’s Distinguished Professor
- Professor of Medicine and Health Care Management, Wharton School
- The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, PhD, Health Economics, Public Policy
- University of Pennsylvania, MD
- Harvard College, AB, Biology
Dr. Volpp is the Founders President’s Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics and Policy at the Perelman School of Medicine and Health Care Management at the Wharton School. He is also the founding Director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE), Vice Chairman for Health Policy for the Department of Medical Ethics and Policy, and Director (with Karen Glanz) of the Penn CDC Prevention Research Center. He is a core faculty member of the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (CHERP) and a board certified practicing physician at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center.
Dr. Volpp’s work focuses on developing and testing innovative ways of applying insights from behavioral economics in improving patient health behavior and affecting provider performance. He has done work with a variety of employers, insurers, health systems, and consumer companies in testing the effectiveness of different behavioral economic strategies in addressing tobacco dependence, obesity, and medication non-adherence. He has competitively been awarded more than $60 million to lead or co-lead studies funded by the NIH; the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation; the CDC; VA Health Services Research and Development; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; the Hewlett Foundation; the Commonwealth Foundation; the Aetna Foundation; Mckinsey; CVS Caremark; Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield; Hawaii Medical Services Association; Merck; Humana; Aramark; Weight Watchers; and Discovery (South Africa).
Research led by Dr. Volpp as been published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and Health Affairs and has been covered by media outlets such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Good Morning America, the BBC, National Public Radio, Der Spiegel, and Australian National Radio. An intervention study on financial incentives and smoking cessation among employees at General Electric resulted in tripling of long-term smoking cessation rates and implementation of a program based on this approach nationally among all 152,000 GE employees in the U.S. and was the winner of the British Medical Journal Group Award for Translating Research into Practice. He has helped lead research that serves as the foundation for numerous other widely implemented programs such as a national program on financial incentives for smoking cessation among CVS employees, a prescription refill synchronization program for Humana members, a simple health insurance plan called “Humana Simplicity”, and an approach to increase medication refills using enhanced active choice among CVS members.
Dr. Volpp’s work has been recognized by a number of awards including the Matilda White Riley Award for career achievement by the Office of Social and Behavioral Science at NIH, the Association for Clinical and Translational Science Distinguished Investigator Award for Career Achievement and Contribution to Clinical and Translational Science, the Alice Hersh Award from AcademyHealth, the John Thompson Prize from the Association of University Programs in Health Administration; a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and multiple ‘best paper of the year’ awards from different societies including Academy Health, the Society of General Internal Medicine, and the Association for Consumer Research.
Volpp is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI), the Association of American Physicians (AAP), and the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences (IOM). He has served as an advisor to many different health plans, employers, and consumer companies.
Wharton's Kevin Volpp Discusses How Behavioral Economics Principles Could be Used to Fix Health Care.
Listen to the Podcast
'Smart' Pill Bottles Aren't Enough To Help The Medicine Go Down
Dr. Kevin Volpp, a physician and health economist who directs the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Incentives, studied more than a thousand patients with heart failure who were each given the GlowCap pill bottle, an Internet-linked device made by firm Vitality.
Replacing the Affordable Care Act Lessons From Behavioral Economics
Republican efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are not over, despite the failure of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) legislation. The major challenge facing the AHCA was the loss of insurance coverage for an estimated 24 million people.
Maryland to offer online shopping tool for common medical procedures
Kevin Volpp, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics, said that on a big-ticket item like a joint replacement even patients with high deductibles probably would meet that threshold and with insurance coverage would not face major added costs out of their own pockets.
Penn receives $6.4 million from NIMH for new mental health center
A $6.4 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health will fund a new research center at the University of Pennsylvania to study how evidence-based treatment can better circulate to more therapists and mental health care providers.
How to Reduce Primary Care Doctors’ Workloads While Improving Care
In this article, we identify the barriers slowing the transition of episodic, in-person primary care to innovative models that separate care from location and that empower patients to take on more of their own care.
Commentary: How Can We Help People Quit Smoking? Pay Them.
Thursday is the 47th year of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout. One of the longest-running awareness campaigns in the U.S., the Smokeout involves cancer societies, health organizations, and anti-smoking advocates using social and print media to remind Americans that now is the right time to quit.
How Behavioral Economics Can Produce Better Health Care
Consider the following. I’m a physician at the end of more than a decade of training. I’ve dissected cadavers in anatomy lab. I’ve pored over tomes on the physiology of disease. I’ve treated thousands of patients with ailments as varied as hemorrhoids and cancer. And yet the way I care for patients often has less to do with the medical science I’ve spent my career absorbing than with habits, environmental cues and other subtle nudges that I think little about.
E-cigarettes disappoint in a workplace quit-smoking study
It’s a big question for smokers and policymakers alike: Do electronic cigarettes help people quit? In a large study of company wellness programs, e-cigarettes worked no better than traditional stop-smoking tools, and the only thing that really helped was paying folks to kick the habit.
Want people to quit smoking? Offer them money.
E-cigarettes, on their own, don’t appear to be very good at saving lives. If you really want to get smokers to quit, you need to build an incentive structure. Consider a study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study’s authors took some 6,000 smokers enrolled in tobacco-cessation programs through their employers and randomly divided them into five groups. The first received information about the health benefits of not smoking and motivational text messaging. The second received free cessation aids, such as nicotine patches or pharmacotherapy and, if those failed, free e-cigarettes. The third received free e-cigarettes upfront. And the final two received financial incentives — worth up to $600 — if they kept from smoking. The result six months later? Those receiving financial incentives were up to three times more likely to quit than those given free e-cigarettes.
The best flu prevention might be behavioral economics
“One of the best examples of a successful nudge was reported last year by University of Pennsylvania researchers who, with a simple tweak in the electronic medical record, increased vaccination rates by almost 40% relative to clinics that did not receive the tech change. The intervention was devastatingly simple: When doctors first logged in to a patient chart, they were prompted to either “accept” or “cancel” an order for the flu shot.”