Kevin Volpp, Commonwealth Fund, Automated Hovering

Kevin Volpp, Commonwealth Fund, Automated Hovering

The emerging -- and very clever -- patient-tethering digital technologies have great potential to help manage patient health behavior but are not silver bullet solutions to patient non-adherence, LDI Senior Fellow Kevin Volpp said in a Commonwealth Fund white paper on behavioral economics. The paper, the latest in the Commonwealth Fund's "Quality Matters" series, explores methods for altering patients' failure to stick to medication and treatment regimens.

Volpp explained that the new data communications systems can facilitate "automated hovering," or near-constant streams of information about the patient's biometrics and health-related behaviors -- but have  significant limitations.

"For example," Volpp said, "if you provide patients who have poorly controlled diabetes -- who may have poor diet, a lack of physical activity, poor medication adherence -- with a wireless glucometer, they probably will only be partly adherent to using that. You have to combine technology with an engagement approach that is really going to provide ongoing active participation for this technology to actually be useful."

Volpp, MD, PhD, and Director of the LDI Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE), is a professor of both medicine at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine and health care management at the Wharton School.