Behavioral Economics Expert Explains How to Drive Massive Change with Minor Tweaks w/ Karen Horgan


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Everything you’re trying to accomplish comes down to one thing… getting people to do stuff. Behavioral economics, in its simplest terms, is the study of how and why people decide to do what they do (or don’t do). Whether you’re trying to sell, get users to adopt a new system or workflow, or make your staff feel comfortable coming back to work during a pandemic, understanding behavioral economics will greatly increase your chances of success.

Today we’re talking with Karen Horgan, CEO at VAL Health about how behavioral economics is being used in healthcare today, and how it should be used going forward to drive positive behavior change throughout the industry.

No matter what you’re working on, there’s something here for you. I can think of no better investment you can make in your self and your business than gaining a basic understanding of these concepts.


"Behavioral economics is the last mile to transform healthcare. As an industry, we have a behavioral deficit, not an informational deficit."

Karen Horgan, CEO, VAL Health


You’ll Learn

  • How behavioral economics is used to influence your decisions every day
  • How “changing the default” can drive dramatic behavior change overnight
  • Why things like scarcity, exclusivity, and social proof are such powerful influencers of human behavior
  • How one practice used behavioral economics to reduce no shows
  • Why losses are doubly as powerful as gains in driving behavior change
  • Why focus groups will often fail you
  • How to use behavioral economics to help employees feel safe at work
  • How to use behavioral economics to help patients feel safe going to appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The importance of creating and maintaining a feedback loop when trying to promote preventative measures
  • Using behavioral economics to influence up
  • The importance of using simple language (I’m looking at you… everyone in healthcare )
  • Why you should always make the right path the easy path


Today’s Guest: Karen Horgan

Karen co-founded VAL Health to apply behavioral economics to improve health and health care. A proven expert in developing high impact behavior change and engagement programs, Karen is commonly found presenting at leading industry conference and private speaking events including SXSW, HIMSS, the AHIP Institute, and the World Economic Forum. As the CEO, she has spearheaded the development of hundreds of behavior change programs that enable clients to overcome healthcare’s biggest challenges. Prior to starting VAL Health, Karen was Chief Marketing Officer at Keystone Strategy. Karen also previously led marketing and product management teams for early-stage technology companies and was a consultant with Bain and Company in Boston and Hong Kong. Karen holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School, a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Connect with Karen on LinkedIn:

VAL Health is the leading health-related behavioral economics consulting firm. We tackle the hardest problems in healthcare using proven behavioral economics science, pioneered by our academic co-founders and enhanced with our real-world experience. By meeting people where they are, we deliver sustained engagement and behavior change for clients, the leading payers, hospital systems and digital health companies.

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And this is a great talk by Karen’s co-founder, David Asch. Worth checking out, especially for the graphs between the 9 and 10-minute marks:


The #HCBiz Show! is produced by Glide Health IT, LLC in partnership with Netspective Media.

162 episodes