Applying behavioral insights: simple ways to improve health outcomes

behavioral_insights_report-1-1Much of the global burden of disease arises from unhealthy behaviors, which people struggle to change even if they have the awareness, intention and ability to do so.

The new report ‘Applying behavioral insights: simple ways to improve health outcomes’ will be discussed at today’s World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).

The Behavioral Insights Forum will present groundbreaking, evidence-based research showing how citizens’ health can be improved through a better understanding and application of the latest research. Led by a UK government-owned social purpose company, The Behavioral Insights Team, this research studies the factors that influence human behavior thereby producing evidence that can prove vital to improving the health of populations.

Report focus

Senior patient with nurseUsing a broad definition of health, the report will cover three main areas: quality of life and wellbeing, public health, and delivery of healthcare. It will further demonstrate how behavioral insights can be applied at the macro level of high-level policies and system design, as well as at the micro-level of experimentation, in order to achieve incremental improvements for the benefit of societies.

This report gives an overview of behavioral insights and shows how they can be applied in practice. It recommends using the ‘Easy, Attractive, Social and Timely’ (EAST) framework that provides a simple way of applying behavioral insights to policy and making behavior change more likely.

  • Easy: As we often avoid making an active choice, we often end up with the ‘default’ option. Therefore, making the default option the healthy one is likely to be effective.
  • Attractive: Creating simple and clear messages or new design features works well to attract our limited attention.
  • Social: We are social beings, strongly influenced by what others do. Making healthy behaviors more visible can make them seem more prevalent and easier to emulate.
  • Timely: People are more receptive to change at certain times. Therefore, some moments will be more effective times for intervention, such as the start of the year or significant life events.

Report insights

The EAST principles apply equally to policymakers themselves. Those making health policy should consider how their own actions may be affected by these factors, and how to apply them to ensure policy is made in the best way.

The ideas and examples in this report can be used by anyone involved in healthcare or public health. However, the report will be particularly valuable to policymakers who are responsible for designing and stewarding health systems.

There are many opportunities to improve health and healthcare worldwide by applying behavioral insights. Many of these opportunities can be realized by applying simple tools to make practical changes.

Further Reading

Read the full report here.

Read all the WISH forum reports here.

About the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH)  

WISH focuses on some of the most pressing global health challenges facing governments, health systems and populations. WISH brings together internationally renowned experts, who work with advisory groups to publish evidence-based reports on a range of healthcare topics each year.

Chaired by a team of experts drawn from academia, industry and policymaking, the WISH Forums look in depth at the challenges faced in each area – surveying the literature and interviewing experts in the field. The Forum reports present some of the very best innovations that have been shown to have real impact across the developed and the developing world.

During the Summit, the Forum reports will form the basis of a series of panel discussions hosted by leading experts. The Chair of each Forum will open the panel discussion, focusing on ways key issues can be tackled and considering some of the available innovations that might help.

For further information about WISH and previous conferences, visit their website.

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