Understanding gamified incentives in healthcare

The Story

Rally Health, Inc., is a consumer-centric digital health company that makes it easy for individuals to take charge of their health and wellness, working with health plans, providers, and employers to reimagine consumer health engagement.

More than 20 million consumers currently have access to the Rally platform through payers such as UnitedHealthcare, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, and thousands of employer groups.

Rally uses gamification as its main engagement mechanism. One of the functions of the Rally Platform is to provide incentives to Medicare members. They turned to Experience Dynamics to get behaviorally validated answers to the gamification policy for healthcare incentives. 

The Challenge 

Rally needed to know how to roll-out incentivization (reward redemptions) to its member population in a way that would result in successful user adoption.

Medicare & Medicaid members are entitled to incentives, but providers and engagement platforms like Rally are there to help disburse the actual incentives.

Healthcare incentives in the US are potentially linked to employee and other members benefits, including compliance to wellness activities and outcomes. Rally wanted to know what would really resonate with the behavior of its Medicare population. Would the gamification in the platform work with this aging population? How should the incentives be positioned and made available to the user base?

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The Strategy

In order to develop a crystal-clear understanding of Medicare user values, motivations and behavioral probability of using the Rally platform successfully, Experience Dynamics pursued a blended approach of focus groups with at-home user interviews.

Rally wanted a focus group. We knew that would be risky from a healthcare UX perspective. 

See What’s wrong with Focus Groups and how to fix them

To correct the weakness of the focus group, Experience Dynamics started by interviewing 15 users of various Medicare segments in their homes. This allowed us to get evidence by understanding the context of their decisions based on their healthcare challenges. One participant said “I got $300 for stopping smoking, and that was very motivating to manage my diabetes”. 

Next, we invited all participants to a focus group where we interrogated the incentive options and pros and cons with a workshop format (bingo-style game) designed to engage the seniors.

This approach allowed our team to compare and contrast findings, look for patterns, and form a clear picture of what users said in front of their peers (focus group) versus what they privately felt and did (home interviews). Hint: It was different! Cash at home, intangibles (a massage, time with grandkids) in the social pressure arena of the focus group. 

The Turning

Users indicated a preference for cash at home but among their peers said they would prefer experiences or intangibles, like a massage or spending time with grandchildren.

The difference in what users reported unscored the need to avoid focus groups to understand user behavior. We learned that having a blended approach to user research can better surface what users say vs. what users do.

Understanding user expectations and priorities helped Rally frame the positioning of rewards, as well as what the exact rewards should be, and what options to give users with their rewards.

Coworker Leading a Presentation

The Results

The depth of insight from the interviews allowed the Rally Health team to move forward with a comprehensive, data-backed User Experience strategy, which served as the foundation for incentivization product decisions just in time for roll-out.

Experience Dynamics included evidence from the user interviews and the focus group. Our design recommendations included mock-ups to help the product team make the right decision for Rally users. 


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