Mount Sinai Starts Pilot Program with Wellth, an App that Increases Adherence with Financial Incentives
The New York health system has seen medication adherence success with the startup Wellth
According to Healthcare IT News, Mount Sinai Health System is trying a new way to get high-risk patients to take their medications: financial incentives. The founders of Wellth met executives from Mount Sinai as part of Dreamit Health's customer immersion program when they were part Dreamit Health's Fall 2016 cohort of startups. Now, the company has enrolled 12 patients in a pilot with the New York health system in a study supported by a grant from Health 2.0 and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
“What I’m so impressed with is a lot of companies go out and say ‘We want to make this and this is going to solve that problem. What [Wellth] did is they said ‘Here’s a really big problem we want to solve’ and they did a ton of research and they were really utilizing research that’s been done in behavioral economics.” - Jill Carroll, an IT project manager at Mount Sinai
Carroll will be sharing lessons learned from the pilot at the Digital and Personal Connected Health Conference, a one-day event in Las Vegas on March 5.
With Wellth’s technology, patients can earn a few dollars a day for taking their pills on time, which can add up to a significant amount over a few months. At Mount Sinai, for example, patients can earn $50 for one month of adherence. To report their adherence, they simply snap a photo with their phone’s camera of the pills in hand.
“The first person they selected [for the pilot] had been very noncompliant and just after a week or two, the staff was super excited because this person had adhered to their plan every single day,” Carroll said.
There are some tricks to the platform based on the startup’s behavioral economics research. For one thing, rather than seeing a monetary total tick up as they report their adherence, users see a pool of money that depletes when they miss a dose.
“People have money deducted rather than added to their balance because they found that loss avoidance is a stronger incentive than rewards gains,” Carroll said.
The app is also designed for the intended audience, not necessarily a tech-savvy demographic, in mind.
“They tried to make this absolutely as user-friendly as possible,” Carroll said. “The population that we’re working with is the kind of population that is on Medicaid or Medicare, … it’s not highly educated, most of them are low income, and we still see a lot of success with them, so I think it’s a really well-designed program.”