“An offer of money is often the most persuasive argument in getting someone to do what you want. The saying can be traced back to G. Torriano’s ‘Italian Proverbs’ (1666). First attested in the United States in the ‘Saturday Evening Post’ (September 3, 1903) Anoter (sic) common modern variant is ‘money talks, bullsh*t walks‘ From ‘Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings’ by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).” — found here.

According to the 2013 Deloitte Survey of U.S. Physicians, financial incentives (such as direct payments, reduced insurance premiums or reduced co-pays) and “rewards, perks, and points” top the list of incentives that might work best with consumers to achieve better treatment compliance. LAST on the list was “social networking and games to build a peer support community.” Over 70% of physicians cited financial rewards whereas only 13% cites social media and games (see chart below; access the report here):

(click on chart for enlarged view)

This is interesting because for years now the pharma industry has been hearing from their agencies and consultants that social media and especially games (“gamification”) can improve adherence to medication and other “healthy” behavior (see “The Role of Social Media in Managing Chronic Diseases” and “Cure by Gamification: Science or Wishful Thinking?,” for example).

Who should the industry believe? Physicians or consultants? I know, I know… sometimes they are the same (i.e., paid physician consultants). If physicians’ views matter, then SM & games are “bullish*t” when it comes to incentivizing patients.

This should be good news, however, for companies like Healthprize, which offer cash, rewards, and points for treatment adherence. I interviewed Tom Kottler, CEO of HealthPrize, about the company’s online and mobile platform that leverages rewards, behavioral economics and gaming dynamics to motivate people to stick with their prescription medications. Here’s a snippet of that conversation:

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Yes, games are part of the incentive. But games that results in real-life rewards such as points that can be redeemed for goods and services. You can listen to the entire interview here.