Everyone loves to get something for free or at a discount. Many industries use loyalty programs to allow customers to accrue points and use them as coupons to get freebies or reduced prices the next time they come to the store, airline, or car rental among others. The Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) recently published an article suggesting that “the use of loyalty programs within accountable care organizations (ACOs) could be a means of achieving patient-centric care and enhance the health system business model.”
Patient retention is a problem for many practices. Loyalty programs could offer patients benefits such as vouchers for free parking, cafeteria discounts, preferred rates at restaurants or hotels, or even cab and bus vouchers, according to the article. The benefits can grow over time to ensure people with the greatest health needs receive the most rewards. The programs also could extend to medical supply companies, pharmacies and other ancillary providers, and potentially be tailored to individual patients, the authors suggest.
Health systems could benefit if their loyalty programs would encourage patients to seek care with affiliated clinicians, keeping the patient within the ACOs care network. That could help ACOs save money by discouraging patients from seeking more costly care. Loyalty program members also are more likely to see the health system in a positive light and increase the customer satisfaction quotient.
We would add that pairing the idea of a loyalty program with a smartcard biometric registration application, like Privasent, would further enhance the patient safety and satisfaction aspect. The physical smartcard could be used as the loyalty program token as well as providing absolute healthcare identity for the patient. Absolute healthcare identity supports the ACOs by eliminating identity fraud, reducing billing errors and increasing patient safety.