No, you didn’t misread the headline. It is accurate. Community Health of South Florida, Inc. (CHI) has a new incentive program to encourage patients to return their Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) test kits, a screening test for colorectal cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. But this simple FIT test kit can help with early detection and doctors say that is key to saving lives. Just taking a small stool sample at home and bringing it in to the lab is all that’s needed. Every year, those between the age of 50 to 75, or those with a genetic predisposition to the cancer need to be screened. But far too many people avoid the test.
“It’s just not a pleasant subject for people and they find it embarrassing,” said Allison Madden, Assistant Vice President for Performance Improvement at CHI. “I think it’s out of sight, out of mind. The thought of obtaining a sample discourages patients from returning the test.”
The test is only $10 for the uninsured and covered by all insurance companies. Yet the cost of avoiding the test is priceless when you consider it can save a life.
“Studies have shown that with other health centers the way to increase colorectal cancer screening return rates is by perhaps offering incentives to patients,” said Madden.
That is why CHI developed a new program to encourage patients by offering two $25 Walmart gift cards that the organization will raffle off every month. Any patient who returned a FIT test during that month will automatically be put into the raffle to possibly win one of the two gift cards.
“I think the incentive program will work,” said Tito Iyaogeh, a patient dropping off her FIT test at the lab. “I’m with Ambetter (insurance) and they give you $25 for taking your physical every year, which is awesome. I make sure I take my physical, my husband takes his physical and my children take their physical every year. The money actually comes in handy.”
Iyaogeh said winning the gift card for returning her fit test would be a bonus, but her primary reason for returning the test is easy.
“I need to be healthy,” she said. “I want to live long and I want to live a healthy long life!”
CHI employees will also get in on the incentive fun. Those who follow-up with patients and get them to return the FIT test can win $1 per test for those above 10 returns.
“It will motivate me to increase the colorectal cancer numbers and also to get our patients to return their fit tests,” said Sonya Gerald, LPN Care Coordinator. “It also gives me something extra to look forward to.”