Getting patients engaged in managing their own health is a growing priority in the industry. The trick is how to accomplish that. Some suggest that the only way to get patients to do anything is to gives them incentives or disincentives, from virtual raindrops and sunshine or cold hard cash to higher health insurance deductibles for those who fail to improve their health.
"We support the use of financial incentives today for engagement," said Dan Brostek, Aetna's head of member and consumer engagement. "There's this big discussion around real versus virtual rewards and which one works or if it's a hybrid that will work. I'm a believer that the financial and tangible rewards will get people there and get them to participate initially. But if you want sustained engagement around true behavior change it has to be intrinsic. And that's where emotional rewards come in—things you can't touch but you can feel."
"This, really, to me is about creating a vision of why I want to be healthy. It's not about getting a five-dollar discount at some local sandwich shop because I met my health goals today. It's about 'I want to be healthy because I want to be with my kids,'" Hewett said.
"The financial, the tangibles will get people there. It's a good way to market and communicate the capability of the experience. But then to keep them there, which is what we're all after, it's got to be more emotional in nature," Brostek said.
"We did a ton of quantitative and qualitative research and what came back was [that users] want fun, easy, rewarding, and social. It's going to be critical for us that the next layer takes into account the new features and functionality and then what we can start to incorporate into the user experience moving forward across those different distribution channels," Brostek said.