Anticipating patient behavior and applying well-known techniques to help patients make better health decisions has yet to become a standard aspect of medical thinking.

In healthcare, as in every other field of human endeavour, human behavior determines if and how transactions and investments materialise. If we can better understand human decision-making – and design global health systems and treatment regimens accordingly – we can then reduce costs, increase access to care, and improve health outcomes.

Among patients and medical professionals, digital technology facilitates behaviours and enables intervention at an individual level.

In economics, perfect rationality was assumed for many years. Today, the role of behavior is being increasingly recognised, both in academia and among policymakers and business leaders. For example, the concept of limited or ‘bounded’ rationality in economic decision-making is now crucial in studying, influencing or entering markets.

The same mental shift must be made in healthcare, both at the systems level (think of adverse selection and other unwanted incentives) and with regards to individual interactions relating to diagnosis, treatment, adherence and prevention. This is especially so in situations of poverty and other forms of insecurity.

The Joep Lange Institute concentrates on the direct interaction between technology and behavior in health. This relationship is strong: technology can play a significant role in influencing human behavior related to transactions, including those in healthcare.