Offering $100 to patients eligible for a preventive colonoscopy screening more than doubled the rate of screening when compared to a simple emailed request, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Screening colonoscopies improve the chance of early detection and prevention of colorectal cancer, but tens of millions of Americans who should have preventive screenings fail to get them. The new study, published this week in Gastroenterology, suggests that a simple financial incentive may be able to persuade many of those holdouts to undergo this important medical procedure.
“Colonoscopy is challenging for patients, requiring a day off from work, a bowel cleansing preparation, and transportation, in addition to non-financial costs of anxiety and discomfort,” said lead author Shivan J. Mehta, MD, an assistant professor of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine and associate chief innovation officer at Penn Medicine. “The improvement we saw in the rate of screening colonoscopies was statistically significant, and shows for the first time that a financial incentive can at least modestly boost that rate.”