How gift cards are reducing pressure on the NHS





  •  Dr Heather May Morgan says incentives “reduce pressure” on healthcare services
  • Volume of gift card orders by NHS trust accounts increased by 155% from 2020-22

Gift card incentives are helping reduce the pressure on the NHS as the number of healthcare trusts using them to incentivise patients to be healthier has doubled in the last five years.

Healthcare is experiencing a transformative trend as financial incentives flourish to complement the already well-established and growing demand for patient incentives in research settings – with both now a crucial aspect of actual healthcare provider conditions.

This shift has generated traction in recent years, with incentives successfully motivating patients to make positive changes in their health-related decisions and potentially reducing healthcare costs for providers.

According to latest data, the total spend by NHS trust accounts on gift cards has more than doubled, increasing by 155%, since 2020.

Meanwhile, figures show that in just five years the overall number of NHS Trusts using gift cards from Love2Shop, one of the UK’s leading providers, has almost doubled – from 88 Trusts in 2018 to 173 in 2023.

The trend is evidence that vouchers are emerging as a favoured alternative to cash rewards, as they provide a more dignified form of incentive for patients and aren’t perceived as something akin to welfare.

Health issues targeted through incentives include efforts to quit smoking, decrease alcohol consumption, and combat obesity.

According to experts, tailoring incentives to individual preferences is crucial in motivating healthier behaviours. By providing incentives that resonate with the patient’s preferences and circumstances, the motivation to pursue healthier behaviours is heightened.

An effective approach to implementing patient incentives is to utilise a tiered system. This often involves offering an initial reward to incentivise engagement, followed by top-up payments as patients achieve specified milestones.

Dr Heather May Morgan is Dean for Enterprise & Innovation and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen.

She has experience with patient incentives in healthcare after contributing to a National Institute for Health and Care Research study into the benefits of incentives for breastfeeding and smoking cessation in pregnancy.

Dr Morgan said: “There is evidence to show that patient incentives work in different ways for different people.

“Studies indicate incentives can successfully engage people to entertain and adopt certain healthy behaviours, while repeated rewards can help sustain them.

“These incentives work best when they are structured and part of a programme in which patients also have access to healthcare and additional support.

“When implemented correctly, the result is better health outcomes for patients and reduced pressure on healthcare services.

“That’s why we are seeing patient incentives, which are both widely accepted and provably effective in a range of contexts, increasingly being used in healthcare.”

Love2shop’s own portfolio of healthcare and NHS Trust clients extends throughout the UK and supports a broad range of incentivised programmes including smoking cessation, diabetes prevention, obesity support and reducing alcohol consumption.

Alex Speed, Head of Client Development at Love2shop said: “As a leading reward and recognition company, we have seen the volume of gift cards used by healthcare and NHS Trust clients as financial incentives almost double since 2018.

“Judging from the results for these incentivised programmes – which have been published in leading healthcare publications such as the British Medical Journal – we know the return on investment continues to prompt a year-on-year increase in demand for our Love2shop Gift Cards.

“We see firsthand how multi-retail gift cards allow healthcare providers to offer one product to a huge range of people and still satisfy each individual’s needs or interests.

“For instance, many recipients of a Love2shop Gift Card redeem it in a shop to treat themselves, but others might use them to re-stock food cupboards or buy essential items to help manage the challenging costs of living given the vast range of brands and shops they can access with our gift cards.

“These client collaborations allow us to support positive health behaviour change throughout the UK while expanding our market reach and strengthening our brand’s reputation. We’re dedicated to providing tailored gift card solutions that contribute to better health outcomes for all and foster lasting partnerships with healthcare clients.”

To find out more, visit: Love2shop in Healthcare | Love2shop



About Love2shop

Love2shop – part of the PayPoint Group – is the UK’s number one multi-retailer gifting provider. Its range of Love2shop Gift Cards, e-Gift Cards and Gift Vouchers offer consumers the choice to spend at more than 140 high-street and online retail partners.

As well as personal gifting, Love2shop products are widely used in customer and employee engagement and consumer incentive programmes to provide recognition and rewards that offer real value to the recipients.

Love2shop also provides holiday gift vouchers through Love2shop Holidays and single-retailer gift cards for some of the high street’s biggest names – from Marks and Spencer to John Lewis.

Love2shop Gift Cards are flexecash products regulated by the FCA. Flexecash is the pre-paid card platform which issues Love2shop Cards. This facility is provided by Park Card Services Ltd who is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 [90001] for the issuing of electronic money.

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