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Do Healthcare Incentives Work?

Motivating consumers to engage with wellbeing resources is more challenging, more essential for health outcomes, and more important for reducing health related costs than ever before. But driving consumers to complete a desired action is tough, especially in a world with so many distractions. So, what can you do to get them to change a behavior and take action?  

Rewards and incentives are a proven and popular way to engage consumers and drive targeted actions. Bonus! With 85% of consumers saying healthcare companies should have reward programs, they are sure to catch their eye. 

Everybody’s Doing It

Incentives are having their moment with more organizations offering rewards for completing a specific action. The reason you’re seeing incentives everywhere is because they truly work!

Just think about that email you received asking you to complete a satisfaction survey. Are you more likely to do it with a friendly nudge or if there’s a $20 gift card offered? The latter takes the cake.

You Can Drive Behavior Change with Healthcare Incentives

Let’s face it: we all inevitably like being rewarded for doing things. Incentives can effectively motivate consumers to take action and drive behavior change, including getting people to take health actions like getting a preventive screening or a vaccine. The end result benefits both the program sponsor and the end user, from better health outcomes and quality scores to lower overall healthcare costs.

Tried and True Incentive Strategies

As you get started with healthcare incentives, start by considering the level of engagement needed to complete the action. Then evaluate the appropriate incentive value, and finally determine the best reward type to offer. For example, offering a $10 gift card for a 250-question survey isn’t going to cut it. But offering a $25 reward for a flu shot will!

Actions can be participation or outcomes based, rewards intrinsic and/or extrinsic, and valued in dollars or points depending on the program type. And remember, if you are offering financial rewards, you don’t have to limit them to cash or gift cards. You can diversify your offerings by promoting healthcare premium reductions, HSA account contributions, merchandise or even charitable contributions.

What Healthcare Incentives Will Work for Your Population?

Consumers have their eyes on the prize in more ways than one. In 2020 alone, Virgin Pulse rewarded nearly $100 million to consumers for participation in wellbeing programs. Over the years, we’ve seen gift cards secure the spot for the most popular type of rewards. Here’s the inside scoop on what’s hot right now:

  • Most popular type of reward: Digital gift cards
  • Most popular destination: Amazon and Walmart
  • “Biggest mover”: Lowe’s gift cards experienced a 15% increase over 2019 (All that time at home and DIY-ing accurately reflected the state of 2020)
  • Watch list: Grocery stores

Finding the Healthcare Incentive Partner for You

Investing in an incentives program can seem overwhelming, and you don’t have to do it alone. We recommend looking for these three things when searching for a healthcare incentives partner:

  1. A true partner that’s there with you the whole way: A good vendor will help you design your strategy, understand your goals, fulfill rewards, and measure the impact. Virgin Pulse has a team of experts on hand that design smart incentive strategies customized to target specific behaviors and desired health actions, taking the personalization burden off your plate.
  2. A team that can help you navigate changing policies: Staying compliant is critical and an ongoing challenge. Take the new wellness program regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as an example (P.S. there’s a guide for that!). At Virgin Pulse, our team of solution consultants work directly with clients to create an effective and compliant design that aligns with current best practices.
  3. A vendor that can understand you and your population: A dependable partner knows that what they are offering will work for your consumer’s unique needs. They won’t settle for a “one size fits all” approach.

Healthcare incentives are no longer a “nice to have”; consumers expect their health plan and employer to offer them. By partnering with Virgin Pulse, you can optimize rewards by aligning the right incentive to the right behaviors to motivate individuals in your population to take action.

With over a decade of experience with healthcare incentives, we know this approach is rewarding for all.