Using behavioral economics to boost pediatric adherence

Anxiety associated with medical procedures can cause delays and non-compliance with protocols in pediatric patients, and for good reason. These procedures pertain to oversized equipment and unfamiliar environments.

Carolyn Schneiders Fung, director of national programs at Hope For Henry, an organization dedicated to improving the hospital experience for children with serious illness, explained that non-adherence in any medical setting is a cause for serious concern, with unique challenges in the pediatrics.

“A child who refuses to cooperate with doctor-prescribed care risks additional complications that can have negative effects ranging from discomfort to life-threatening,” said Fung, who will speak on the topic Thursday on HIMSS21.

She said these complications could lead to longer hospital stays and increased costs for patient families, insurers and hospitals.

“Besides adversely affecting patient health, delays in treatment cause disruption to other patients awaiting care and to the physicians and institutions committed to providing timely, effective care for all of their patients,” Fung said. .

She explained that from a medical perspective, procedures can be performed more efficiently and cost-effectively. For example, Hope for Henry’s Super Rewards for Super Kids allows children to take MRIs without anesthesia.

This prevents any negative effects of the medication and means the procedure can be completed in about a quarter of the time, and the lack of a pediatric anesthesiologist combined with the reduced need for medical intervention saves an average of $3,000 for each procedure.

“For the young patient, there are benefits, especially a reduction in anticipatory anxiety, associated with information about what’s going to happen to them,” Fung explained.

“Recognizing that what they do is challenging and therefore rewarding makes them feel competent, strong, and less alone. As a result, participating patients report an improved overall experience and a greater positive association with their medical care, resulting in improved adherence to future medical interventions.”

She also noted that eDOT technology has the potential to streamline and automate compliance-based programming.

“Proactively informing patients about the benefits of using inhalers and other prescriptions, physical therapy, attending appointments and other prescribed treatment recommendations will inevitably increase their knowledge and sense of control and comfort with their treatment,” she said. “eDot technology may also enable creativity on the part of the patient, further encouraging healthy attitudes toward a subsequent hospital stay.”

Carolyn Schneiders Fung will share more of her thoughts on HIMSS21 in a session titled “More Than Medicine: Improving Pediatric Adherence.” It is scheduled for Thursday, August 12 from 10-11 am in the Venetian San Polo 3404.

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.
Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com
Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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