University of Arizona Law’s Christopher Robertson, associate dean for research and innovation and professor of law, was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal to discuss the use of choice architecture in health care.
Choice architecture presents options in a way that subtly nudges an individual toward a desired decision. Based on psychology and behavioral economics, it aims to encourage people to make better choices without openly limiting their options.
Robertson examines how choice architecture could be used in health care, and explores that in a new book, “Nudging Health: Health Law and Behavioral Economics,” which he edited with Glenn Cohen, professor at Harvard Law school and faculty director of the Petrie-Flom Center; and Holly Fernandez Lynch, executive director of the Petrie-Flom Center.
In the Wall Street Journal interview, Robertson explains how choice architecture could nudge more people to do advance-care directives.
“Only about 30 percent of Americans have advance-care directives where they make decisions about future treatment in case they are ever incapacitated,” Robertson says. “One way to get more people to do advance directives is by making it a condition for buying health insurance or a way to earn a discount on their policies. Research shows that individuals [with such directives] often chose care that’s less intensive, invasive, and therefore less expensive, than is otherwise presumed. So this is an example of where policy makers have an interest in helping people make decisions that better reflect their own preferences.”
He also explains that “one important aspect of choice architecture, based on key insights from behavioral science, is to make the good choice the easy choice.”
Robertson also added that choice architecture, particularly in the context of health care, has a number of important issues still to be explored, including the fact that insurers and hospitals could use it to advance their own interests rather than the patient’s.
“These are just ideas or proposals that need to be first tested in the lab and then tested in the field,” Robertson says of the themes his book contains. “The science of nudging itself is still in its infancy, and we are learning a lot more about what works and where.”
Read the full interview at the Wall Street Journal.