If you experience a heart attack, you are probably going to need to take pills to prevent another such attack. People who take beta blockers, aspirin, or cholesterol pills after heart attacks are less likely to experience a second such attack. (Note: Don’t take any of these pills until you have spoken to your doctor. These medications aren’t for everybody.)
There’s a problem, though. Lots of people don’t take these pills, even after their doctors have prescribed them. Life gets in the way. They forget to take them, or they run out of pills, or they don’t get to the pharmacy for refills.
To increase the chance people will take these important pills, a team out of the University of Pennsylvania created a behavioral economic incentive. The intervention was multipronged. It included enrolling patients in lotteries, which gave them a chance to win money every day they took their pills. It encouraged patients to enlist a friend to help them stay on track taking their pills, a friend who would get notified every time they skipped their medications for a few days in a row.
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