Professor Eric Andrew Finkelstein

Professor Eric Andrew Finkelstein

Health Services and Systems Research
Duke-NUS Medical School



Nudges for Healthy Living
23 September 2017, Saturday
9.15am – 9.45am
Synopsis: Health economics is mostly known for its contribution to the economic evaluation of new health technologies through cost-effectiveness analysis. This workshop will first provide participants with a broader understanding of health economics. Health economics will be presented as a theoretical framework explaining the behavior of economic agents such patients, doctors, and health insurance companies. The default position of health economics is to leave market forces solving health-related issues such as utilization of preventive care and obesity. The conditions under which markets fail to solve health-related issues will be discussed as this provides a rational for public intervention.

The main objective of this workshop is to discuss cognitive biases as a special case of market failures. Biases such as the optimism and present bias result in irrational behaviors that prevent markets from working properly. Behavioral economics will be presented as the systematic study of these biases that explain behaviors such as overeating and incompliance to medications that cannot be explained by standard economic theory alone. Beyond understanding these biases, the workshop will also identify interventions that can potentially correct the targeted behaviors.

The format of this workshop will be a lecture with active class participation through thought experiments that will illustrate standard and behavioral economic principles. The workshop will include several examples of real applications to medication adherence, weight loss, and physical activity interventions drawn from the facilitators’ research experience in applying behavioral health economics in Singapore.


1. Standard health economics at work
2. The economic rationale for public intervention
3. Cognitive biases in health economics
4. Application of behavioral economics principles to design health interventions
5. Conclusion


Nudges For Healthy Living
22 September 2017, Friday
9.45am – 10.15am
Synopsis: Reality is that preventing chronic diseases is easy. Don’t smoke, don’t drink (too much), diet, exercise, and get a good night’s sleep is generally all it takes. Yet, reality is that few of us can pull it off. As a result, rates of chronic diseases are increasing worldwide and health systems are struggling to keep up. Nudge Theory, which takes advantage of concepts from psychology and economics, is increasingly discussed as a tool to stem the rise in chronic diseases. This session will present the theory and evidence behind the use of nudges for preventing and managing chronic disease and the implications for practitioners and health systems.


Dr. Finkelstein is Professor of Health Services and Systems Research at the Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore and the Executive Director of the Lien Centre for Palliative Care. He also holds appointments at National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Public Health and Duke University Global Health Institute. His research focuses on the economic causes and consequences of health behaviors, with a primary emphasis on the use of traditional and behavioral economic incentives to influence those behaviors in ways to improve the public’s health. Recent research also focuses on studies to better understand the complicated decisions that revolve around end of life care.

He has published over 170 manuscripts and two books in these areas, and also successfully commercialized an Obesity Cost Calculator for employers and insurers. Based on Google Scholar, he has an h-index of 52 and his publications have been cited over 18,000 times, including in the landmark Supreme Court decision upholding the U.S. Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). In 2015, he was selected by Thomson Reuters as one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds.