Five Steps to a Successful Incentives and Rewards Program Launch

By Anna Greene, Sr. Community Manager


Financial incentives can be an incredibly powerful way to persuade health plan participants to shop around for the highest quality care at the lowest cost. But once you’ve selected and purchased a rewards program, how do you make sure it gets off to a successful start? There are a number of important steps, but here are five key must-dos:

1. Set clear objectives and goals for the program

  • Identify and write out what you hope to accomplish and what the key measures of success are. You can’t measure your results without first identifying your goals.
  • Accountability is key. Once you have your goals, identify who will be graded on progress or achievement of each one and how often check-ins will take place as a team.
  • Lock down key milestones or checkpoints along the way to hold your team accountable for reaching goals and allow you to change tactics if things aren’t going as well as expected.

2. Assemble the team you need to succeed
From the day you decide a rewards program is right for you as a part of your HealthSparq One platform, there are a number of key people who need to be involved, including:

  • Marketing and Communications: This team identifies what will need to be communicated to achieve the stated goals as well as the audiences and channels that will be targeted for success.
  • Finance: As with any program, it’s important to define and monitor the budget for all the activities rolled up in within a successful campaign.
  • Analytics: This team will ensure that you are correctly measuring the payout in terms of value to the organization in both non-financial and financial terms.
  • Legal: The fine print of your program and any implications of it need to be clearly noted in advance of any external communications.

3. Get to know the Who (Your Audience)
Who specifically are you targeting with the incentives? What are you rewarding them for? To help make this process clearer, we recommend developing personas of members or behaviors that you want to target with rewards. For example, you could create personas and user stories based on:

  • Frequent vs non-frequent health care consumers
  • Age, gender and type of service needed
  • Level of health care need (chronic vs. one-off/emergency)
  • Type of service

4. Lay down the guidelines/rules

  • Clearly list who will participate in the program (i.e. who is eligible).
  • Identify the time period for the program – is it permanent or will it be run in segments throughout the year?
  • Set-up the qualification levels for rewards – what reward types/amounts will go with what service selections?
  • The restrictions (if any) should be clearly detailed for internal and external audiences.
  • List out the rewards and recognition provided and any tax implications for the member (if any).

5. Prepare to communicate clearly – and often

  • Prepare for the big launch and get your members excited by notifying them in advance that a rewards program is on its way through email, website promotions, hold-time messaging, etc.
  • Plan to communicate at every touch point within the rewards program to validate the action the member is taking. Encouragement throughout the process can help reinforce long-term behavior change.

Bonus tips: What NOT to do!

  • Do not fail to deliver on what you’ve promised! Anything you do that fails to live up to what you’ve marketed instills a lack of trust in members.
  • Do not use an incentive program to hide that you are changing something else that could negatively impact the customer or employee. It’s not a shiny distraction.
  • Avoid tons of fine-print that can frustrate or aggravate the member.
  • Do not just end your program without proper communication with the member base and a clear plan for next steps.

If this sounds like a lot of hard work, well, it is! Fortunately, for health plans that have the HealthSparq One platform, activating a rewards program is a breeze. From getting things set-up to analyzing your program’s results, our team is here every step of the way to ensure you get maximum impact from the program. Here are just a few of the ways we’re here to help set you up for success:

  • First, we’ll complete a full an analysis of how your members’ claims data and find the top treatments for rewards to maximize ROI.  
  • We’ll then help you decide how much and what types of rewards to offer and for what types of procedures.
  • Once you’re ready to roll things out, we will work with you on all marketing and promotion materials using our expert guidance to reach your target audiences.
  • All along the way, you’ll also receive monthly tracking and analytics so you have a pulse on what’s happening with your program.
  • Don’t worry, we’ll even take care of the entire rewards fulfillment process, including verifying the member’s enrollment in the rewards program and evaluating and approving their claim prior to sending out their reward!

If you’d like to learn more about HealthSparq Rewards, we’d love to chat or schedule a demo. Contact us!

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