Cincinnati, OH – Patients of Phoenix area orthodontist Dr. Chris Murphy earn cool custom tokens each time they do something good like show up on time, brush properly, or earn A’s on their report card. They even receive a piggy bank to save their “Murphy Money” in until they redeem it for valuable prizes. Dr. Murphy calls this his Hygiene Incentive Program. It is easy to see why this HIP program is such a HIT with his young patients.
“We were looking for a way to encourage patients to do good things” says Dr. Murphy. “Patients who keep their teeth clean (and we grade them) earn a token. If they show up on time they earn a token. If they are taking good care of their dental appliances (with nothing broken), they earn a token. And if they are wearing their rubber bands as they are supposed to, they earn a token. We’re trying to develop good habits by rewarding good behavior.”
In addition to developing good habits for their orthodontic treatment, Dr. Murphy is also encouraging them to sustain good habits for their dental health and in school. A visit to their regular dentist for a cleaning earns them 15 tokens. And a good report card can be golden, as each A earns them a token.
Short Term and Long Term Rewards
Pretty soon those good habits begin to pay dividends in terms of dental health which is good for the patients in the long term. Meanwhile, the tokens they receive also add up – which benefits patients in the short term.
There are several levels of prizes to suit any interest or taste. For example, a patient who saves 3 tokens can choose a prize from the toy chest. Patients who save 6 tokens can swap them for a $2 gift certificate to Baskin Robbins. Diligence pays off for patients who establish good dental habits, as 15 tokens earns them a Beanie Baby or a $5 gift certificate to area restaurants including Jamba Juice, Starbucks or Baskin Robbins. For patients with even larger appetites, and a propensity to save their Murphy Money, 25 tokens earns them a $10 gift certificate to Borders Books & Music or a local movie theatre. The highest level of prizes – worth 45 tokens – includes $20 gift certificates.
Like any professional, referrals are a big part of Dr. Murphy’s practice. Patients who refer a friend who begins treatment get a fistful of coins – literally. “We have a big fishbowl of tokens” continues Dr. Murphy, “and anyone who refers someone to us gets to dig their hand into the fishbowl to see how much Murphy Money they can grab.”
Borrowing a Good Idea and Making it Better
Dr. Murphy began his Hygiene Incentive Program about 7 years ago. He had heard of other orthodontists with similar programs using wooden nickel which were called “ortho bucks.” Never one to miss an opportunity for some alliteration, Dr. Murphy borrowed the idea and began using wooden nickels which he coined “Murphy Money.” About a year ago he switched to metal tokens for the “jingle effect” as he calls it. The new custom tokens look and feel more like money, and have earned rave reviews from patients.
Dr. Murphy buys the tokens in bulk from TokensDirect, whom he found online. He is pleased with the service and pricing for the coins, calling them “not much more expensive than the wooden nickels” while they are “a lot more like money.” Plus, “it was worth it to be doing something different than other orthodontists” concludes Dr. Murphy.
Murphy Money seems to be a great way to incent and then reward good dental behavior – as well as good academic efforts. Patients are rewarded both in the short term with valuable prizes of their choice, and in the long term with healthy dental habits that will provide a lifetime of returns. Meanwhile, Dr. Murphy and his staff create some excitement and enthusiasm that is not often seen in an orthodontist office (at least not until the braces come off!).