Making the Most of Your Preventive Care Incentive Program

by Alvonice Spencer

Motivating patient behavior is a complex task. In a world of competing priorities, preventive health screenings and provider visits are often lost in the shuffle of daily responsibilities. Despite the best efforts of the healthcare industry, the perception of preventive care still lacks the sense of urgency associated with sick care in the minds of many patients. The million-dollar question remains, “How can health plans influence perception and help patients prioritize preventive health care needs?” There is, of course, no simple, one-size-fits-all answer to this dilemma. Many plans, however, have turned to member incentives as part of a broader strategy to engage populations in beneficial health activities. For simple preventive care screenings, incentive rewards have shown to be an effective method for encouraging positive patient behavior. Designing a healthcare incentive program that meets the needs of both health plans and members is key to driving successful outcomes; but with a wide array of rewards platforms available to health plans, it is important to consider that not all incentive designs are created equal.

Too often in health care, incentive programs are undermined by complexity and lack of consumer appeal. Coffee shops and grocery stores have succeeded in generating customer loyalty and driving behavior using clearly defined and immediate reward options. Unfortunately for the world of population health management, traditional preventive care reward systems are not always easy to navigate and struggle to generate a sense of urgency among patients. Missteps among incentive programs often share common flaws:

  •      Confusing messaging
  •      Lack of timely feedback
  •      Delayed rewards
  •      Unappealing incentives (i.e. gifts and vouchers)
  •      Complex point structures

Healthcare incentive programs designed with detailed attention to the member experience achieve far better success metrics. Immediate rewards and defined expectations are crucial elements of successful incentive strategies. In studies spanning health care to education, immediate monetary incentives demonstrate a higher yield of desired results than promised or delayed incentives. The motivating ability of incentives begins to diminish when rewards are delayed—out of sight, out of mind. Combining the effort — receiving an annual flu shot — real-time with the reward allows patients to better connect the usefulness of the activity and increase its prioritization. In a Pursuant Health engagement, a client moved from a completion rate of 22% for health risk assessments to over 50% with the incorporation of an immediate, clearly defined reward for the activity.

Pursuant Health understands the complexities of quality engagement and incentive management. While there is no silver bullet solution for improving preventive health engagement, well-designed incentive offerings can move the needle and impact member behavior. Health plans recognize the importance and sense of urgency around preventive care. With structured motivation, supported by immediate rewards and feedback, member populations can also begin to more fully experience the value of active preventive health engagement.

Alvonice Spencer
Director of Quality


Alvonice Spencer is Director of Quality at Pursuant Health. He has an extensive background working for health systems and most recently was Stars Quality Director at Cigna-HealthSpring. Mr. Spencer earned a Master of Science in Health Administration from The University of Alabama at Birmingham.


Pursuant Health values its role in helping health plans achieve meaningful quality intervention and member engagement.

For more information on Pursuant Health and how we can assist your health plan, please contact:


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