Industry studies confirm the strong connection between healthcare costs and the ingrained behavior of consumers and providers. Ironically, consumers and providers have access to more health information, tools, programs and support than ever before; yet healthcare costs continue to increase and chronic diseases continue to affect a larger portion of the population.
The healthcare industry is at an inflection point where payers, employers, providers and consumers must all be directly involved in the effort to manage the cost of care and to improve health outcomes. A critical aspect of this effort involves the motivation and behavior of all healthcare market participants, but primarily applies to the healthcare consumer and provider at the point of care delivery.
To drive engagement in programs designed to improve health, organizations have applied both incentives and disincentives, with varying degrees of success, as part of an overall engagement strategy. Generally, the presence of an incentive leads to improved results, but most incentive designs have fallen short of their potential. But some valuable lessons have been learned.
The healthcare industry has learned, for example, that incentives can drive behavior change, and can help establish a new baseline for consumer expectations, consumption patterns and health awareness. In turn, this newfound awareness has the potential to address the root causes of the nation’s healthcare crisis, leading to a more rational care model and slower rate of health cost increases.
More importantly, the well-intentioned but haphazard evolution of the application of incentives to various healthcare initiatives has yielded a robust volume of actual performance and cost-related information that can finally provide reliable links between program participation, behavior change, health outcomes and cost savings; and all of the necessary data to determine return on investment.