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Gas stations, hotels, grocery and electronic stores.  They all have this in common: They’ve long been offering rewards and using incentive systems aimed at influencing customer behavior and increasing loyalty. Behavioral healthcare, to this point, hasn’t gotten on board, but there’s no reason to wait any longer. It’s time to steal a page from their playbooks.

It’s well-documented that persons with chronic conditions account for a disproportionate percentage of treatment costs. Those conditions are often difficult to manage, but they can be positively impacted when people actively engage in their care process. With ACOs and capitated models (payment per person vs. payment per service) becoming commonplace, consumer engagement will need to be a priority. It’s one of the least-utilized yet most effective methods for achieving better outcomes and lower costs.

So, how do we effectively engage consumers?

First, by identifying the pain points – the areas in which low adherence CoffeeGiftCardand lack of collaboration between client and provider are impacting outcomes and costs. Then we tie the reward to the specific pain point. Rewards systems don’t need to be expensive to be effective. Providers can offer enticements like online music gift cards, coffee shop vouchers or free movie rentals. Redbox, for example, offers the ability to purchase free movies rentals codes in bulk for about $1.50 each – simple, cheap and fun.

Here are a few examples of client-specific goals that could be rewarded for a given incentive:

– Completing a daily journal for 80 percent of the days between visits

– Showing up for 10 consecutive appointments

– Completing online forms before arriving

– Attending group sessions

– Completing defined exercise

– Consistently taking medication

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. There is, however, a clear opportunity to break through resistance by putting an incentive structure in place. It may just be the extra nudge that’s necessary to make improved behaviors a habit.