David A. Asch

David A. Asch
  • Professor of Medicine, Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Professor of Health Care Management, Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions
  • Executive Director, Center for Health Care Innovation
  • John Morgan Professor

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    PCAM 14-171 South Tower
    3400 Civic Center Boulevard
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: behavioral economics, clinician and patient decision making, health care management, health policy, medical ethics, physician executives, technology assessment



MD, Cornell University, 1984
MBA, The Wharton School, 1989
AB, Harvard University, 1980

Career and Recent Professional Awards; Teaching Award

Distinguished Career Award, AcademyHealth, 2020
Publication-of-the-Year, AcademyHealth (with J Silber and others), 2020
Distinguished Investigator Award: Translation from Clinical Use into Public Benefit and Policy, Association of Clinical and Translational Science, 2019
Wharton Teaching Excellence Award, 2019
RWJF David E. Rogers Award – Association of American Medical Colleges, 2018
Wharton Health Care Alumni Association Achievement Award, 2017
Article of the Year Award – AcademyHealth, 2016
Luigi Mastroianni Clinical Innovator Award, 2014
Distinguished Graduate Award, Perelman, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 2012
John M. Eisenberg National Award for Career Achievement in Research, Society of General Internal Medicine, 2010
Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher Award, Association of American Medical Colleges, 2009
Under Secretary’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research, Department of Veterans Affairs, 2008
Elected Member, Institute of Medicine, 2007
Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, 2006
Elected Member, Association of American Physicians, 2005
Arthur K. Asbury Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, 2004
Research Mentorship Award, Society of General Internal Medicine, 2004
Robert C. Witt Research Award, American Risk and Insurance Association, 2000
Samuel P. Martin, III Award in Health Services Research, 1999
Outstanding Investigator Award in Clinical Science, American Federation for Medical Research, 1999
Nellie Westerman Prize, American Federation for Medical Research, 1998
Outstanding Paper Award, Society for Medical Decision Making, 1997
Alice Hersh New Investigator Award, AcademyHealth, 1997
John M. Eisenberg Teaching Award, 1995

Academic Positions Held

Wharton: 1998-present
Named Robert D. Eilers Professor, 1998-2012
Executive Director, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics 1998-2012

University of Pennsylvania: 1989-present
Chief, Section of General Internal Medicine, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, 1993-1996
Director, Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, Department of Veterans Affairs, 2001-2012
Director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Program, 2002-2014
Executive Director, Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, 2012-present
Director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, 2013-present



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Past Courses


    This course is only open to students in the Master of Bioethics program.


    This is a tutorial given by each student's advisor. Advisor and student meet weekly. Topics include: discussion and review of epidemiologic concepts and principles, guided readings in the epidemiology of a specific health area, and the development of the research protocol.


    These are a series of tutorial sessions conducted by the student's advisor, which are to support the student's efforts in developing a research protocol, designing a designing a research project, and completing the study.


    This course applies state-of-the-art innovation methodologies to improve health care delivery for providers, and outcomes and experience for patients. It begins with an extended discussion of how we might apply principles of analytical and scientific thinking including rhetorical analysis and behavioral economics to operational problems in health care. And it examines strategies for identifying and solving those problems; including ethnographic research to reveal what others have missed; problem reframing to enable high-impact solution directions; intentional divergence to unlock teams from initial, less productive concepts; rapid hypothesis validation to learn quickly at low cost whether and how best to invest in scaling; and designing delightful experiences, which drive word-of-mouth and catalyze the spread of desirable behaviors.


    This is a pairing of two 3-week course topics. In "Driving Value in the System," you will engage in understanding the current goals of improving value--defined by quality over costs--in the health care system and drivers of improved value. After hearing from experts in the field about their experiences, you will be able to understand the different payor drivers to increase value, measure quality and cost, deliver an elevator speech for resources, and select tools to implement a value-improvement project. In "Health Insurance and Benefit Design," you will discuss some of the main challenges facing health insurers, efforts to reduce growth in entitlement spending, and research that muses on the effectiveness of different strategies to modify behavior through the use of incentives embedded within health insurance design.


    This course will explore the effects of the changing health care environment on the physician, patient and health care manager. It is intended for any undergraduate with an interest in how 1/6th of the American economy is organized as well as those planning careers as health care providers and managers. The course complements other health care courses (that take a societal perspective) by focusing on the individuals who participate in the health care enterprise. There are no prerequisites, as the course will stand on its own content. The course will be divided into modules that focus on the participants of the health care process and the process itself. We will analyze the patient, the doctor, and manager in light of the patient-doctor interaction, the turbulent health care marketplace, expensive new technologies,resource allocation, and ethics.


    Arranged with members of the Faculty of the Health Care Systems Department. For further information contact the Department office, Room 204, Colonial Penn Center, 3641 Locust Walk, 898-6861.


    While academic researchers often think of health policy in terms of research evidence and outcomes, politics and political processes also pla y important roles. The purpose of this course is to provide those pursuing careers in health services research and health policy with an understanding of the political context from which U.S. health policy emerges. This understanding is important for researchers who hope to ask and answer questions relevant to health policy and position their findings for policy translation. This understanding is important as well to policy leaders seeking to use evidence to create change. The class provides an overview of the U.S. health care system and then moves on to more comprehensive understanding of politics and government, including the economics of the public sector, the nature of persuasion, and techniques and formats for communication. The course emphasizes reading, discussion and applied policy analysis skills in both wirtten and oral forms. Concepts will be reinforced with case studies, written assignments and a final policy simulation exercise where students will be placed in the position of political advisors and policy researchers. Prerequisite: Permission needed from Instructor.

  • HPR 951 - HPR THESIS I

    Each student completes a mentored research project that includes a thesis proposal and a thesis committee and results in a publishable scholarly product. Prerequisite: Course only open to Masters of Science in Health Policy Research students.


    Each student completes a mentored research project that includes a thesis proposal and a thesis committee and results in a publishable scholarly product. Prerequisite: Course only open to Masters of Science in Health Policy Research students.

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Latest Research

Colman Humphrey, Dylan Small, Shane T. Jensen, Kevin Volpp, David A. Asch, Jingsan Zhu, Andrea B. Troxel (2019), Modeling Lottery Incentives for Daily Adherence, Statistics in Medicine, 38 (15), pp. 2847-2867.
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In the News

With High-deductible Employer Health Plans, Who Wins?

High-deductible employer health plans are cheaper for businesses and may also be cheaper for employees. But are they too much of a gamble?

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2019/06/17
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