The Affordable Care Act has put new emphasis on preventing chronic conditions—which account for more than 80% of U.S. healthcare costs—rather than treating them after the fact, which is something the provider network wanted to address. A few innovative hospitals around the country have begun to offer patient loyalty programs to encourage patient to get regular preventative-care check-ups and screenings. As patients check in for these visits, their card is swiped and they accrue points for future perks. These loyalty programs can provide patients with perks like valet parking, 10% off in the hospital cafeteria or discounts on non-prescription drugs at the pharmacy.

Botsford Hospital in Farmington Hills, MI, started their program in 2010 with the acronym “VIP” taking on a whole new meaning: Very Important Patient.  The hospital website states: “The Botsford Very Important Patient (VIP) program is our way of extending premier services and valuable discounts to you, our patients, because you deserve special treatment.”

In 2013, Primary Health Network, a group of federally qualified community health centers in Ohio and Pennsylvania, started a V.I.P. Loyalty Program using cards in an effort to reduce the high rate of missed appointments. The cards were similar to cards one might be given in a rewards program for an airline or grocery store. It was an effort led by now-retired CEO Jack Laeng to reduce incidents in which patients “failed to show” for primary-care, dental, gynecologic and other appointments. The rate of missed appointments was about 15% at the network’s 45 locations in 2012.

These programs were effective in both of these Mid-West Healthcare organizations. But if your organization decides to offer a perks program, be wary of focusing solely on amenities. While patients are apt to choose services that are immediately useful, such as valet parking and gift store discounts, they also need to be assured of your organization’s quality of care.

What better way to highlight an organization’s emphasis on patient safety and quality of care, then by combining the loyalty program with a smartcard and biometric patient identity program. Privasent by Malta Systems combines a smartcard with a biometric palm vein scan to ensure absolute patient identification at each point of care. The smartcard can be branded by the hospital and serve as a loyalty card for the healthcare system, as well as provide absolute healthcare identity for the patient

Privasent enhances the patient safety and patient satisfaction aspect. Absolute healthcare identity supports the ACA by reducing patient misidentification and duplicate records, eliminating identity fraud, and reducing billing errors.

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