Smarter Choices for Better HealthOrganization logo: Erasmus University Rotterdam

About this minor

Healthcare expenditures are increasing rapidly. This minor uses insights from behavioural and health economics to study how these expenses can be made more efficiently. It does so by using different perspectives: individual and organisational in the main course, and hospital, national and global perspectives on health and behaviour in the electives.

Take a look at our video here and learn more!

Good health care is essential for a long and healthy life. A lot of progress has been made in recent decades, but many countries still face huge challenges when it comes to funding and delivering high quality health care. On average, health and life expectancy have improved, but there are large differences between and also within demographic groups. Lifestyle and preventive measures play an important role in this context. Academics from the disciplines of health economics, behavioural economics, public health care and global health are joining forces to make health care systems fairer and more effective with the existing financial resources. The results of this research will be reflected in this minor.

This 30 EC minor comprises of four modules: one large introductory module of 15 EC, which can also be chosen as a 15 EC minor (course code GWMINOR323), and three elective courses of 5 EC each of Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management.

The introductory module Analysing and Changing Unhealthy Behaviour (ACUB) uses a micro perspective to show how healthy behaviour can be stimulated. One of the components of this introductory minor is to design a health intervention. In addition, the students deepen their knowledge in three smaller modules. The module Value Based Healthcare (VBHC) applies a hospital perspective, focusing on maximising the value and minimising the costs of care delivery. The module Rationing: economic insights in rationing healthcare (RHC) uses behavioural economics to study the allocation of healthcare resources from a country perspective, including examples from different countries. Finally, the module Global Challenges in Health Behaviour (GCHB) adapts a global health perspective, with a focus on strengthening health care systems in low- and middle-income countries.

Learning outcomes

  • Can explain and apply the traditional economic approach to rational choice, and discuss the merits and limitations of this approach for understanding and changing behaviour.
  • Can apply basic economic and mathematical tools to demonstrate and/or explain how traditional assumptions about rationality are violated (e.g. using behavioural models).
  • Are able to give examples of heuristics and biases in intertemporal choice, risky choice and social choice.
  • Can apply these behavioural insights to understand and analyse health behaviour, in at least two settings: lifestyle choice, and patient and physician decision-making.
  • Can differentiate between, provide arguments for and against, discuss challenges, and give examples of appropriate applications in health for the following four common (policy) interventions: a) nudging, b) boosting, c) (financial) incentives, d) regulation.
  • Are capable of applying insights from behavioural and health economics to develop and evaluate an intervention aimed at promoting health and/or wellbeing.
  • Can design and implement their own survey, experiment or intervention on a behavioural health topic.
  • Are able to perform sound quantitative scientific research and report it in a paper.
  • Can explain the main concepts behind and criticisms on VBHC theory.
  • Are familiar with some of the current initiatives to implement VBHC, in the Netherlands and internationally.
  • Understand Integrated practice units - integrating care paths at level of medical condition and recognize how IPUs compare and contrast to other forms of integrated care.
  • Understand the basic principles behind Shared Decision Making (SDM), and how SDM and decision aids are linked to VBHC.
  • Can reproduce the main practical advantages and disadvantages of VBHC.
  • Understand what are the (dis)advantages and main methodological issues when benchmarking outcomes between health care providers.
  • Can explain the main drivers of provider payment reform in health care.
  • Can describe the key features of different value-based payment methods.
  • Are able to derive lessons from initiatives with value-based payment in practice, and formulate future challenges.
  • Have obtained a thorough understanding of rationing health care from an economic perspective and can critically reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of demand and supply side rationing (in different countries).
  • Understand worldwide challenges related to health, health care systems and health behaviours as well as policy interventions to reduce these, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Are able to evaluate and critically reflect on a quantitative research method as applied in a scientific study on health, unhealthy behaviour and/or a related policy intervention.
  • Can create, give and provide feedback on a presentation about a scientific study related to health, health care systems and/or behaviour to peers, as well as generate questions about the content of that scientific article.

Teaching method and examination


  1. Analysing and changing unhealthy behaviour (ACUB)
  2. Value based Based Health Care (VBHC)
  3. Rationing: economic insights in rationing healthcare (RHC)
  4. Global Challenges in Health & Behaviour (GCHB)


The examination of the different modules is as follows:

  1. Analysing and changing unhealthy behaviour (ACUB)
  2. Value based Based Health Care (VBHC)
  3. Rationing: economic insights in rationing healthcare (RHC)
  4. Global Challenges in Health & Behaviour (GCHB)

ACUB: The written exam counts for 50% of the grade. The portfolio with reflection exercises is worth 10% of the grade. The behavioural health intervention counts for 40% of the grade. To pass this course, students need a weighted average grade of 5.5 or higher, and get at least a 5.0 for each of the three parts. The written exam can be retaken later in the academic year, but the weekly portfolio exercises cannot. Students that receive a grade lower than 5.0 for the behavioural health intervention can hand in a resit intervention. The maximum grade for this resit intervention is a 6.0. Participation in weekly working groups is not mandatory but recommended to achieve the learning goals and successful completion of the weekly reflection in the portfolio.

VBHC: Composition final grade is determined bij written examination 100% and mandatory participation of the owrking groups. In order to obtain a "pass" for participation each student is expected to participate actively and to attend at least 3 of the 4 meetings.

RHC: 100% written exam

GCHB: Presentation of a scientific quantitative paper (55%), peer feedback (30%), participation (15%). All grades are given at an individual level, also for the presentations where students prepare in small groups/pairs.

Good to know

We expect students that enroll for the minor Smarter Choices for Better Health (MINESHPM223) to follow the full 30 EC program. If you only wish to follow a 15 EC minor, please enrol for the minor Analysing and Changing Unhealthy Behaviour (MINESHPM323).
The lectures and working groups finish before the Christmas break.

No prior knowledge is required, although the minor is entirely taught in English and, hence, good command of English is beneficial.

For the ACUB module, applying insights from health and behavioural economics will often involve the use of algebra and calculus. In this course, this will involve exercises requiring the equivalent of high school math skills. Nonetheless, there are no entry requirements, and material will be available at the start and during the course for students to acquire these skills.

Attendance and active participation is mandatory.

Additional information

  • Code
  • Theme
    Health care
  • Credits
    ECTS 30
  • Selection minor
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