Improving Patient Engagement through Competition

June 9, 2021

Poor patient engagement can lead to non-compliance, adverse outcomes and substantial expense. (Lack of medicinal adherence costs the US healthcare system over $250 billion per year.) Those same issues affect research, whereby patients are too unmotivated, over-burdened, or both, to report upon their long term progress. And yet obtaining these results consistently and across a heterogenous population of patients is key to the success of generating real world evidence, which is increasingly used by manufacturers, institutions and private clinics to support safety and efficacy of their products and protocols.

The stationary bicycle company Peloton has become a health and wellness success story based on engaging its customer base. It boasts over 4.4 million members on its digital platform, but even more interestingly, has doubled its per subscriber monthly workout totals over the last year. How does Peloton get its members off couches and onto bikes?  By fostering among them an ongoing sense of competition.

Member data, such as kilojoules of generated energy, is consistently tracked by the Peloton platform and presented back to the user. A Peloton “Member” thus regularly and easily quantifies her progress, compares it against pre-established goals as well as against others in the Peloton database. The engagement and results of this “gamification” speak for themselves.

Clinicians, researchers and product manufacturers can apply these lessons to their own patient engagement initiatives, by:

      1. Choosing simple, effective “patient-accessible” quantification metrics. PROMs are good; surveys based on objective, sensor-based data are better.

      2. Weighing benefits against burdens from the patient’s perspective. Consider the length and complexity of the survey related to the perceived value of its metric.

      3. Providing immediate, quantitative feedback upon patient completion. Provide context, provide goals and if relevant, even comparison “competition” against others within their cohort.

These and similar elements will greatly improve patient engagement, and are at the heart of any Circle we manage.

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