Patients Receive Cool Coins for Good Behavior

Patients of Dr. Chris Murphy receive "Murphy Money"  that can be cashed in for prizes as a reward for good behavior.

Pennwell web 500 413
Pennwell web 500 413

The fun part is trading their "Murphy Money" in for rewards!

by David Blumenfeld

Patients of Phoenix area orthodontist Dr. Chris Murphy earn cool coins each time they do something good such as show up on time, brush properly, or earn A’s on their report cards. 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 overall dental health. A visit to their regular dentist for a cleaning earns them 15 tokens. And, a good report card from school 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 patients in the long term. Meanwhile, the tokens they receive also add up — which benefits them in the short term.

There are several levels of prizes for patients to choose from to suit any interest or taste. For example, a patient who saves three tokens can choose a prize from the toy chest. Patients who save six 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 a local movie theatre. The highest level of prizes — worth 45 tokens — includes $20 gift certificates.

Pennwell web 250 188

As with 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,” explains 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 seven years ago. He had heard of other orthodontists with similar programs using wooden nickels, 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 tokens look and feel more like money, and have earned rave reviews from patients.

Dr. Murphy buys the tokens in bulk from TokensDirect, a company 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 give patients incentives 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!

Pennwell web 70 65David Blumenfeld is manager of marketing and product development at Osborne Coinage Company. In addition to helping dental professionals with their reward programs, he assists companies, nonprofit agencies, and advertising/marketing/direct mail agencies to create memorable reward and incentive programs with the use of custom tokens. You may reach David directly at davidb@osbornecoin.com, or visit www.osbornecoin.com for additional information.

More in Patient Relationships