Introducing the New Director of the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Rinad S. Beidas, PhD, an internationally recognized leader in implementation science, as director of the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit, a collaborative effort between the Center for Health Care Innovation and the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE). Dr. Beidas is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry, with joint appointments in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy and the Department of Medicine, and currently serves as an associate director at CHIBE. She is the founding director of the Penn Implementation Science Center at the Leonard Davis Institute, which she will continue to lead.

Penn Medicine recognizes implementation science as a fundamentally important area of medical and public health research. In her new role, Dr. Beidas assumes leadership of the world’s first behavioral design team embedded within a health system. Her appointment will help build the Nudge Unit’s expertise and prominence at the intersection of implementation science and behavioral economics, strengthening interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships across campus, including with the Abramson Cancer Center, where she is a member of the Cancer Control Program. In taking on this role, Dr. Beidas will bring an implementation science lens to achieve impact at scale across the Penn Medicine system and will demonstrate the potential of implementation science to improve health care, health outcomes, and health equity. The Nudge Unit leverages insights from behavioral economics and psychology to design, implement, evaluate, and disseminate approaches to steer medical decision-making toward higher value evidence-based care, increased patient engagement, and improved patient outcomes. Since it was established in 2016, the Nudge Unit has worked on more than 100 projects across the health system, including more than 25 randomized trials resulting in over 75 publications in leading medical journals, such as NEJM, JAMA, Nature, and PNAS.

Dr. Beidas joined Penn Medicine in 2012. Her research program focuses on improving the quality of health care delivery across a variety of settings to improve health outcomes equitably. These include community mental health clinics in Philadelphia, the network of Penn Medicine clinics and hospitals serving individuals with cancer, clinics providing care to people living with HIV, and the Mental Health Research Network, a national practice-based research network of 14 healthcare systems. Dr. Beidas has published over 150 articles in the field of implementation science in leading medical journals and has been identified as one of the top 10 implementation scientists to whom others go for collaboration nationally. She serves as MPI of two NIH Centers on behavioral economics and implementation science in mental health and cancer and has a strong record of NIH-funded implementation research. A dedicated teacher as well as prolific investigator, Dr. Beidas mentors graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early career faculty through a variety of mechanisms, including a T32 at the intersection of implementation science and mental health.

Dr. Beidas holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Colgate University and a PhD in psychology from Temple University. In keeping with her impact, she has received several prestigious awards, including the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies President’s New Researcher Award in 2015, the American Psychological Foundation Diane J. Willis Early Career Award, and PSOM’s Marjorie Bowman New Investigator Research Award in 2017.

Dr. Beidas succeeds Dr. Mitesh Patel, the Nudge Unit’s founding director, who took a leave of absence from Penn Medicine in June to become National Lead for Behavioral Insights and Vice President for Clinical Transformation at Ascension Health. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Beidas on her new appointment and wishing Dr. Patel continued success.

David A. Asch, MD, MBA
Executive Director, Center for Health Care Innovation

Kevin G. Volpp, MD, PhD
Chief, Division of Health Policy
Director, Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics