blog Where pay-for-performance meets behavioral science - Joep Lange Institute

Where pay-for-performance meets behavioral science

Dan Ariely and the World Bank explore where their fields can enhance each other
Where pay-for-performance meets behavioral science

Efficiency, cost-effectiveness and quality are among the main challenges in healthcare systems worldwide. One of the ways to move healthcare forward is to re-assess current payment models. Where the traditional fee-for-service model tends to focus on the volume of services, pay-for-performance offers incentives for quality of services, not just quantity. One of its underlying assumptions is that performance is primarily influenced by financial incentives.

But is this really the whole story?

If there’s one profession where intrinsic motivation plays a central role, it must be healthcare. By nature, doctors want to deliver high quality care, but in practice they often encounter barriers such as lack of knowledge or resources. At the Joep Lange Institute, we believe that behavioral science can add an invaluable dimension to the journey towards better healthcare. Yet so far, the fields of pay-for-performance and behavioral science have not yet explored their potential complementarity.

During a recent mini-symposium, leading economists Adam Wagstaff and Damien de Walque of the World Bank took us through results and lessons learned from current pay-for-performance programs. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely says that we need to step back and really understand what is holding people back. After all, he says, no one goes to medical school because they want to get rich. At the same time, we often see intrinsic motivation take a back seat as many doctors in Africa become disillusioned with the system.

Is a healthcare system built around financial incentives the best way forward? How can we broaden the approach to really understand all the barriers for high performance?

The Joep Lange Institute will be exploring this topic over the coming months. Want to dive deeper? The webcast of all three lectures is available here.

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