The Health Foundation to support five research projects that explore how behavioural insights can be used to increase efficiency and reduce waste in health care

Five research projects have been selected as part of the Health Foundation’s £1.5 million open call for novel research ideas that design, test and evaluate behaviourally informed interventions that have the potential to significantly improve efficiency and reduce waste in health care services in the UK.

The overarching programme aims are to:

  • understand the motivation to act efficiently
  • design appropriate new behavioural interventions
  • examine how interventions work and for whom
  • provide lessons on spread in a UK health care services context.

These five projects will allow behavioural scientists to work alongside frontline staff, helping them to apply and test the insights and methods of behavioural science in rigorous experiments that seek to improve efficiency and reduce waste in ways that can better serve the general population.

The programme runs for 2 years and final findings are due in 2018. Emerging findings from each project will also be shared as the research progresses.

The projects are:

This research project examines whether providing feedback to clinicians about the cost of commonly used blood tests and CT scans is an effective way to reduce unnecessary demand for diagnostic tests. The research will also explore whether providing information about radiation exposure from CT scans and the associated increase in cancer risk encourages clinicians to use safer alternatives.
 

This project involves developing and testing a new discharge process for children presenting to A&E with fever, with the aim of reducing unnecessary re-attendances. The intervention will use behavioural insights to support parents by giving them the knowledge and confidence to manage childhood fever at home.
 

This project will examine how simple changes in the hand washing areas of hospital wards can subconsciously influence people to follow good hand hygiene practice. The study will test the effect that two triggers – a smell and an image – have on hand washing compliance on four hospital wards.
 

The project team is drawing on behavioural insights to design a range of approaches for encouraging GPs and practice managers to engage with the prescriptions data available on the OpenPrescribing website. They will test methods including peer comparison tools, cost savings calculators, feedback on prescribing behaviour and email alerts, to establish which have the greatest impact on prescribing behaviour.
 

This project will explore how behavioural insights can be applied to an online procurement system, to generate cost savings without compromising quality. The project team will test how messages and prompts can be used throughout the buying process to encourage efficient and effective purchasing decisions.

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