VAL Health

Behavioral Economics

Irrationality is predictable


Here are two striking observations about health.


So much of health depends on personal behaviors and the choices people make for themselves about eating, exercising, smoking, or taking medications.


Most people know what they need to do to improve their health, want to do those things, but don’t succeed.

Health behavior change is about helping people achieve the goals they already have but have a hard time accomplishing. 

Behavioral Economics holds the key

The field of behavioral economics models the powerful forces that prevent people from achieving their goals. Rather than beat ourselves up for our human flaws, VAL Health recognizes the ways our minds act and uses this to our advantage.

There are many fundamental principles VAL Health uses to create behavior change programs, including:

When rewards are hidden from participants, such as premium adjustments bundled into paychecks, they are less effective than more visible rewards. Bundling incentives even as high as $550 into premiums was not effective at driving weight loss among obese employees.

To reinforce a behavior, feedback needs to be delivered in-sync with the activity itself. A daily contest with a rewards value as low as $1.40 per day led to 30% higher sustained engagement in home-based health monitoring for patients with poorly controlled diabetes.

Even a visible, well-timed reward needs to be seen as achievable to be motivating. Employees reached daily walking goals 50% more often when rewards were tied to their own efforts rather than to their team’s behavior, which they had less control over.

We think we want more options when it comes to our health, but too many choices will leave us less satisfied.
— Dr David Asch