7 Reasons Paying Members Could Actually Save Health Plans Money
October 6, 2020

Does the concept of saving your health plan money by paying members seem counterintuitive? At face value, it may seem that way. But there’s proven practicality behind the concept of providing monetary incentives to members. And once you consider the behavioral economics science behind it, it all makes sense.

Why You Should Care about Behavioral Economics in Healthcare

Behavioral economics assumes that people don’t always act in their own best interest, even if they have all the information they need in order to do so. The core principles of behavioral economics provide insight into how people act irrationally but in predictable ways.

Wellth is a digital health tool that combines behavioral economics principles with a member-friendly spin on remote patient monitoring to improve care plan adherence. Members who join Wellth enjoy an experience tailored to their individual care plans that help them overcome common barriers to adherence.

Target behaviors that members are expected to complete regularly are established based on their care plans. The member receives a financial incentive for following the care plan precisely, providing proof through the Wellth app. Members lose a small percentage of the incentive each day a care plan task is missed.

Research shows that not only are Wellth members’ adherence rates higher, but hospital readmission and emergency department utilization rates are also lower. So why does this approach work?

7 Reasons Paying Members Could Save Health Plans Money

1. Offers practical, relevant, and tangible financial incentives

Incentivizing adherence is not a brand new concept, even though Wellth’s approach is uniquely effective. One review examined several approaches to incentivizing adherence, including the use of incentives like vouchers, raffles, paid job training, and even meals. 

A part of what makes Wellth so effective is the use of monetary incentives. Money is a tangible resource that helps many health plan members meet real needs in their lives. By providing members with practical and relevant incentives, our members are motivated to retain their incentives. Even better— they’re able to use these funds to improve their overall quality of life and support their wellness journeys from multiple perspectives.

2. Creates motivation, even in hard-to-engage populations

For various reasons, populations with the highest risk and lowest outcomes are frequently non-adherent to their care plans. Getting them to be adherent is often challenging and not a focus of other digital health tools, but that’s not the case with Wellth.

Health plans that partner with Wellth appreciate our tool’s ability to gain buy-in from traditionally difficult-to-engage populations by tailoring the member experience to speak to what motivates each individual—whether that’s finance, family, or fun. Through our behavioral economics theory-based models, we’re able to create customized motivations that support healthy habit formation in even the most historically unengaged groups.

3. Establishes healthy chronic condition management habits in newly-diagnosed members

The time of chronic disease diagnosis is a critical period in determining the rate and severity of disease progression. If a person begins an effective treatment plan early and is adherent to it, he or she is likely to have a better chance of slowing disease progression than someone who is newly diagnosed and nonadherent.

By welcoming members to Wellth who have been newly diagnosed with chronic conditions, we help them build healthy disease management habits from the very beginning, which helps stall disease progression and pumps the brakes on poor health outcomes down the line.

4. Facilitates long-term habit formation

Are you wondering whether the habits built during the intervention—the incentive period—actually last once the incentive is gone? At Wellth, we don’t just create routines, we create lasting, sustainable habits.

By applying behavioral economics in healthcare through core principles, we close the gap between what a member intends to do and what they actually do. Once the member closes this gap, assisted by the financial incentive, they begin to see positive clinical results and are able to more easily sustain the pattern on their own.

5. Emphasizes overall care plan adherence—not just medication adherence

Wellth doesn’t merely improve medication adherence; it improves overall care plan adherence. The target behaviors members track through our app pertain to medication-taking, but also to home monitoring, which is a critical component of many chronic condition management plans. This is our member-friendly approach to remote patient monitoring.

For example, being able to motivate members to check their blood pressure and blood glucose regularly, in addition to taking prescribed medications consistently, is important for overall disease management. By incentivizing these behaviors, Wellth sends the message to the member that these behaviors are critical as well.

6. Allows for member-friendly remote patient monitoring 

Through our take on remote patient monitoring, we facilitate communication between the member and a member of the Wellth support team. So even when the member isn’t face-to-face with their care provider, there is still a trusted partner in the Wellth team holding them accountable and helping them remain engaged in their own chronic condition management.

7. Fewer hospitalizations and less ED utilization

We mentioned how research shows an 89% improvement in adherence, but it’s in the longer-range outcomes that we see how our application of behavioral economics to healthcare really saves health plans money.

Better care plan adherence means that members are monitoring their conditions consistently and taking their maintenance medications regularly. 

When care plans are being followed closely, members are more likely to remain in good health and require fewer acute healthcare services. With Wellth members, we’ve seen avoidable ED admissions decline by 92% and hospital readmissions decline by 45%.

Interested in learning how we can collaborate with your health plan?

Book an intro call with Wellth.