Press Release

Health Literacy Incentive Program Using Healthwise Health Education Is Potential Breakthrough in Effort to Lower Health Care Costs

New research shows unique program improves health and lowers costs

BOISE, ID, November 18, 2019—A five-year study conducted by a group of researchers, physicians, and population health experts reports that hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and overall health care costs declined 32%, 14%, and 11%, respectively, after implementing MedEncentive’s Mutual Accountability and Information Therapy (MAIT) Program. A research paper published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research details the study’s outcomes, and points to the MAIT Program as a potential breakthrough in the effort to improve public health and lower overall health care costs.

The study examines the clinical and economic outcomes of a hospital employee health plan. Researchers compared outcomes from the two years prior to implementing the MAIT Program to the three years after implementation. In addition to the substantial decrease in hospitalizations and emergency room visits, average annual adjusted expenditures declined $675 per person from the pre-implementation baseline average. This net decrease in total expenditures was 7.5 times the program’s average annual cost of $90 per person.

In a MedEncentive installation, health insurers offer financial incentives to both doctors and patients with each office visit when they participate in the program. For doctors, this means accessing the program’s website to prescribe Healthwise educational content relevant to each patient’s diagnosis. For patients, it means reading the prescribed material, demonstrating their understanding, confirming adherence to recommended care and healthy behaviors, and agreeing to share their responses with their doctor through the program’s website. The inventors of the MAIT Program call this patented patient-doctor bilateral reporting mechanism “mutual accountability.” It is a form of aligned incentives, which have been found to be more effective at improving compliance and achieving desired outcomes than traditional, unilateral incentives.

The concept of prescribing targeted health information, known as “information therapy,” was pioneered by Healthwise founder and former CEO Donald Kemper and his wife, Molly Mettler. In their book, Information Therapy, the term is defined as providing patients with the right information at the right time, so that they can make an informed decision about their health and treatments. For years, Healthwise and MedEncentive have partnered to provide patients with “reward-induced” information therapy.

Since inadequate health literacy drives as much as 17% of total medical cost in this country, educating and engaging patients in their care has become front and center for many major health systems and insurers. Health literacy is an important social determinant that correlates with health status, life expectancy, care utilization, medication compliance, care plan adherence, and readmissions—all of which affect the optimal delivery of care, public health, and overall health care costs.

“By combining access to the right health education with patient and physician incentives, MedEncentive is helping to transform patients into informed and engaged partners in health care,” said Adam Husney, MD, CEO of Healthwise.

Co-author Dr. Bob Roswell concludes, “Considering our country’s battle to improve health and reduce costs, the implications of our findings and the potential of the [MAIT] program are significant, and certainly more than enough to warrant additional testing, if not widespread adoption.”

About Healthwise

Healthwise, a leader in evidence-based health education, technology, and services, is a nonprofit organization with a mission to help people make better health decisions. People have turned to Healthwise information more than 2 billion times to learn how to do more for themselves, ask for the care they need, and say “no” to the care they don’t need. Healthwise partners with leading hospitals, electronic medical record (EMR) providers, health plans, care management companies, and health websites to empower patients and achieve organizational objectives. 1.800.706.9646

About MedEncentive

MedEncentive offers a health-improvement, cost-containment service to employers, insurers and governments, based on the company’s web-based and mobile-enabled incentive system. This patented system, called the Mutual Accountability and Information Therapy (MAIT) Program, has been proven to improve health and health care, and lower costs, an objective often referred to as the “Triple-Quadruple Aim.” What makes the MAIT Program unique is how it offers financial incentives to both patients and doctors for holding each other accountable for assimilating “information therapy.” This process of “mutual accountability” nudges patient and doctor behavior in a manner that mitigates the ill effects of inadequate health literacy, a leading determinant of health status, life expectancy, and costs. 1.405.319.8450