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Rewards Programs Can Help Engage Patients, Improve Quality :

September 15, 2017

Editor's note: The 2017 AAP National Conference & Exhibition will take place from Sept. 16-19 in Chicago.

When you care for kids, fun and games are all in a day’s work. You blow up sterile gloves and draw faces on them to entertain preschoolers. You pull a coin out of a child’s ear to distract her before she gets an immunization. And much of your work apparel has cartoon characters on it.

But you don’t have to limit game-playing to the exam room.

Robin Warner, MD, FAAP, will explain how to use gamification to engage patients and improve care during a session titled “Shall We Play a Game? Patient Loyalty Rewards Program (F1121)” from 3:00-3:45 pm Saturday in Room W178 B of McCormick Place West Building.

“Gamification is the use of game mechanics in a non-game setting to encourage certain behaviors from the players involved,” said Dr. Warner, a member of the AAP Section on Administration and Practice Management. “Much like a game, certain milestones must be accomplished in order to move forward with the game.”

Examples of major milestones in pediatric practice include receiving recommended immunizations and going to the medical home for care rather than retail-based clinics, the emergency department or telehealth sites.

“In fact, they would get points if they called after hours before going to one of those places,” said Dr. Warner, who has used a loyalty rewards program at her practice, Union Pediatrics, PSC, in Union, Ky.

Dr. Warner set up her program after implementing an online developmental and behavioral questionnaire.

“Patients and parents were slow to come on board with regard to completing questionnaires in advance of their visit,” she said. “This was one of my first major milestones I introduced, and now about 95% complete the questionnaires in advance.”

She expanded the program to include vaccine administration and chronic disease management, such as making sure patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder were seen within 30 days of starting medication and then every three months.

“Implementing a program shows the patient/family that they are important enough to you to ‘reward’ them,” Dr. Warner said. “In addition, it empowers them to take on added responsibility when it comes to caring for themselves and taking ownership of their health.”

During the session, Dr. Warner will explain how to set up a rewards program based on what a practice wants to accomplish. She also will describe the types of rewards that can be offered.

Her program was structured so that if participants reached a certain level of points, they were entered into a monthly drawing for a gift certificate. “For many, just getting enough points to be entered felt like an award itself, as they had accomplished something,” she said.

Gamification also needs to evolve, Dr. Warner said. Once behaviors that you have been rewarding become automatic, it’s time to come up with new milestones.

“This may not be an approach or system for everyone, and not every patient is going to be interested,” Dr. Warner said. “However, once people start playing, they become more invested.”

Follow Dr. Warner on Twitter @unionpedsky.

For more coverage of the AAP National Conference & Exhibition visit and follow AAPNews on Twitter and Facebook.

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