Reduced hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and costs associated with a web-based health literacy, aligned-incentive intervention: Mixed methods study

Jeffrey C. Greene*, Jolie N. Haun, Dustin D. French, Susan L. Chambers, Robert H. Roswell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: The association between health literacy and health care costs, particularly for hospitalizations and emergency room services, has been previously observed. Health information interventions aimed at addressing the negative impacts of inadequate health literacy are needed. The MedEncentive Mutual Accountability and Information Therapy (MAIT) Program is a Web-based system designed to improve health and lower costs by aligning patient-doctor incentives. Objective: In this mixed methods study of a Web-based patient-doctor aligned-incentive, information therapy program conducted in an 1800-member employee health plan, we aimed to (1) determine the program's quantitative impact on hospitalization and emergency room utilization and costs, and (2) assess survey responses about the program's perceived value. Methods: We used a mixed methods, single within-group, pre-post, descriptive study design. We analyzed quantitative data using pre-post mean utilization and cost differences and summarized the data using descriptive statistics. We used open-ended electronic survey items to collect descriptive data and analyzed them using thematic content analysis. Results: Hospitalizations and emergency room visits per 1000 decreased 32% (26.5/82.4) and 14% (31.3/219.9), respectively, after we implemented the program in 2015-2017, relative to 2013-2014. Correspondingly, the plan's annual per capita expenditures declined US $675 (95% CI US $470-865), or 10.8% ($675/$6260), after program implementation in 2015-2017 (US $5585 in 2013-2014 dollars), relative to the baseline years of 2013-2014 (US $6260; P<.05). Qualitative findings suggested that respondents valued the program, benefiting from its educational and motivational aspects to better self-manage their health. Conclusions: Analyses suggested that the reported reductions in hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and costs were associated with the program. Qualitative findings indicated that targeted users perceived value in participating in the MAIT Program. Further research with controls is needed to confirm these outcomes and more completely understand the health improvement and cost-containment capabilities of this Web-based health information, patient-doctor, aligned-incentive program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14772
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Aligned incentives
  • Cost control
  • Health care costs
  • Health literacy
  • Information therapy
  • Mutual accountability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics


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