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UnitedHealth Exec Offers 5 Tips on Patient Engagement

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, August 14, 2013

He points to the Rewards for Health program offered to the insurer's employees, who earn points for specific actions, such as having a health screening or lowering their cholesterol. By completing the health assessment the employees qualify for premium reductions of up to $1,200 per family.

3.Understand human behavior
Sandy says health plans can learn lessons from the world of behavioral economics. "People like feedback," says Sandy. Without feedback, filling out a health risk assessment is just a "nice activity."

To be effective, people need to know what their assessment responses mean for their health, where they stand, and what they need to do to improve. He notes that people also like to keep score, which is why the Rewards for Health program is based on points and provides report cards that track progress toward achieving incentives.

At the end of the day, wellness is about people feeling empowered to do the things that help them maintain and enhance their health. Sandy calls it "patient activation," which happens on what might be called a commitment continuum.

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