Carrot or Stick? Tips for Using Incentives in Population Health Management

While not right for everyone, offering NASCAR® tickets for completing a a health risk assessment was the right incentive for one trucking company surveyed by Buck Consultants’ National Clinical Practice, says principal Patricia Curran. Many companies offer employees incentives for wellness participation, but they need to look at their population and determine what would most motivate them.

When considering types of incentives, carefully consider the population and what they’re more likely to respond to. Recently I worked with a trucking company that had a great success offering NASCAR tickets and a raffle for completing their HRA. This worked for them, but it probably wouldn’t work for every population. Design your incentives with the behaviors of the results that you’re hoping to achieve.

Incentives are used to motivate behavior change at the employer level and the population level. Employers are incented to develop population health management programs because they help control healthcare costs, improve productivity and absenteeism. They know good health is good for business.

The population will be motivated by different things; it might be a plan design, it could be program incentives, it could be different motivators and financial incentives, centers of excellence and so forth.

Our annual global wellness survey showed that most employers that offer incentives do so for HRA participation, participating in challenges and competitions, and maybe biometric screenings. Most employers today are incenting for participation, but a few are beginning to consider incentives for achieving specific goals and adhering to specific guidelines.

Our survey also looked at whether employers feel the incentives are working. Most of them feel that they are mildly effective at changing behavior, but what’s interesting is that 23 percent of those employers surveyed said that they don’t know if their incentives are even working.

To ensure that your incentives are working, you might want to look at some of these considerations. Carrots are more widely preferred than sticks through our survey, and they are generally perceived as being more positive. They create a win/win situation for the employer and the employee.

But some recent surveys show us that the stick is more popular or more effective. When considering types of incentives, carefully consider the population and what they’re more likely to respond to.

Source: Profiting from Population Health Management: Applying Analytics in Accountable Care

Profiting from Population Health Management: Applying Analytics in Accountable Care

Profiting from Population Health Management: Applying Analytics in Accountable Care provides both a primer in PHM, identifying the challenges and opportunities of a robust population health management program, and an advanced case study in the use of analytics in PHM.

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