1 Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
2 Section of General Internal Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
3 Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
4 Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit, Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.
INTRODUCTION: Hepatitis C (HCV) infection is a significant health threat, with increasing incidence rates in the setting of the opioid crisis. Many patients miss appointments and cannot initiate treatment. We implemented financial incentives to improve appointment attendance in a primary care-based HCV treatment setting.
METHODS: We conducted a systems-level financial incentives intervention at the Adult Primary Care HCV Treatment Program at Boston Medical Center which provides care to many patients with substance use disorders. From April 1 to June 30, 2017, we provided a $15 gift card to patients who attended appointments with an HCV treatment provider. We evaluated the effectiveness of the incentives by 1) conducting a monthly interrupted time series analysis to assess trends in attendance January 2016-September 2017; and 2) comparing the proportion of attended appointments during the intervention to a historical comparison group in the previous year, April 1 to June 30, 2016.
RESULTS: 327 visits were scheduled over the study period; 198 during the intervention and 129 during the control period. Of patient visits in the intervention group, 72.7% were attended relative to 61.2% of comparison group visits (p = 0.03). Appointments in the intervention group were more likely to be attended (adjusted odds ratio 1.94, 95% confidence interval 1.16-3.24). Interrupted time series analysis showed that the intervention was associated with an average increase of 15.4 attended visits per 100 appointments scheduled, compared to the period prior to the intervention (p = 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of a financial incentive program was associated with improved appointment attendance at a safety-net hospital-based primary care HCV treatment program. A randomized trial to establish efficacy and broader implementation potential is warranted.