Kevin G. Volpp


Mark V. Pauly President’s Distinguished Professor at Perelman School of Medicine and Health Care Management at the Wharton School

Chief, Division of Health Policy

Director, Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics


1232 Blockley

Ph.D., Health Economics, Public Policy and Management, University of Pennsylvania, 1998
M.D., Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 1998

Dr. Volpp is the founding Director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE) and the Mark V. Pauly President’s Distinguished Professor at Perelman School of Medicine and Health Care Management at the Wharton School. He is also the Health Policy Division Chief for the Department of Medical Ethics and Policy.

Dr. Volpp’s work focuses on developing and testing innovative ways of applying insights from behavioral economics in improving patient health behavior and affecting provider performance. He has done work with a variety of employers, insurers, health systems, and consumer companies in testing the effectiveness of different behavioral economic strategies in addressing tobacco dependence, obesity, and medication non-adherence. He has competitively been awarded more than $98 million to lead or co-lead studies funded by the NIH; the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation; the CDC; VA Health Services Research and Development; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; the Hewlett Foundation; the Commonwealth Foundation; the Aetna Foundation; Mckinsey; CVS Caremark; Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield; Hawaii Medical Services Association; Merck; Humana; Aramark; WW; and Discovery (South Africa).

Dr. Volpp has published over 300 articles including work in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and Health Affairs, and has been covered by media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Good Morning America, BBC, National Public Radio, Der Spiegel, Freakonomics and Freakonomics MD, and Australian National Radio.

An intervention study on financial incentives and smoking cessation among employees at General Electric resulted in tripling of long-term smoking cessation rates and implementation of a program based on this approach nationally among all 152,000 GE employees in the U.S. and was the winner of the British Medical Journal Group Award for Translating Research into Practice. He has helped lead research that serves as the foundation for numerous other widely implemented programs such as a national program on financial incentives for smoking cessation among CVS employees, a prescription refill synchronization program for Humana members, a simple health insurance plan called “Humana Simplicity,” an approach to increase medication refills using enhanced active choice among CVS members, and a new value-based approach to primary care physician payment now implemented throughout the State of Hawaii.

Dr. Volpp’s work has been recognized in a number of ways. He has received awards for career achievement including the Matilda White Riley Award for career achievement in social and behavioral sciences by NIH, the John Eisenberg Award from the Society of General Internal Medicine, and the Association for Clinical and Translational Science Distinguished Investigator Award for Career Achievement and Contribution to Clinical and Translational Science. His teams have been awarded “best paper of the year” awards from AcademyHealth, the Society of General Internal Medicine, and the Association for Consumer Research, and the American Journal of Health Promotion.

Dr. Volpp is an elected member of Penn Medicine’s AOA Chapter, the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI), the Association of American Physicians (AAP), and the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) of the National Academy of Sciences (IOM). He has served as an advisor to many different health plans, employers, and consumer companies and is a principal of the behavioral economics consulting firm, VALHealth.

Along with Dr. David Asch, Dr. Volpp co-created the Penn Way to Health platform, used to facilitate running behavioral interventions, which has now been deployed in more than 200 studies by investigators from more than 20 universities with participants in all 50 states. He also helped to create the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit, the first such health system based entity internationally and was one of the inaugural Section Editors for the New England Journal Catalyst, where he now serves on the Editorial Board. He has served as a mentor to a number of highly successful academics as well as leaders in government and industry.

Dr. Volpp earned his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in biology from Harvard and was a Rotary Scholar at Freie Universitat in Berlin, Germany, where he studied the organization of health care delivery in the former East Germany. He earned an MD from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and a PhD from Wharton.

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