CVS and B-Schools Study Consumer Behavior

Posted by: Francesca Di Meglio on March 18, 2010

Ever wonder why some people follow the doctor’s orders and others never do? It’s actually an important question. Failing to follow a doctor-prescribed medical regimen is a major public health concern, according to CVS Caremark (CVS), the pharmacy health-care provider, which adds in a press release that failing to take medication is a frequent cause of preventable hospitalizations and patient illness that costs the U.S. health-care system about $300 billion annually. That’s why CVS Caremark and researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business (Tuck Full-Time MBA Profile), and University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School and Wharton School (Wharton Full-Time MBA Profile) recently announced that they are teaming up to study behavioral economics and social marketing to better understand consumer behavior when it comes to health care.

As health-care reform comes before Congress and remains a top priority for the Obama administration, this research is timely. It aims to demonstrate how appropriate financial incentives (such as lower co-pays) could motivate people to heed their doctor’s advice. Plans are also underway to research how to better educate consumers and effectively communicate messages that will resonate with them, according to the release.

“This partnership represents another step in our effort to learn more about how we can help patients understand that effective pharmacy care can impact overall medical costs,” said Dr. Troyen A. Brennan, executive vice president and chief medical officer of CVS Caremark. “While we know there are many reasons people stop taking their medicine – cost, forgetfulness, side effects, and others -- this research will help us counsel consumers to make the right decision regarding their health.”

Led by CMU’s George Lowenstein, Tuck’s Punam Anand Keller, and Pennsylvania’s Kevin Volpp, the Behavior Change Research Partnership will also look at why consumers might choose a brand name over the generic version of a medication, even if it has similar effectiveness. The company, according to the release, is already working on research of pharmacy claims data.

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