Employers increasingly recognize the value of working with health plans that take a proactive stance to member engagement. When employees are provided the best information regarding their health and wellness needs, they are equipped to make informed choices concerning their care. Simply put, healthier employees equate to a healthier bottom line.
As such, employee benefit advisers are wise to align benefits delivery with offerings that not only distribute information, but also spur responsive action from consumers. When evaluating plans for patient engagement, employers should consider these five drivers of success.
1) Build a data-driven strategy. Consumers naturally respond better to approaches that align with their specific priorities and interests. As such, health plans that take the initiative to learn about their members are much better poised to build strategies that will prompt a desired action. Many plans leverage human-centered design, a method that considers the needs, desires and limitations of a targeted group. By using this approach, for instance, a health plan may deploy an incentive strategy offering a gift card for one target audience. In contrast, an effective strategy for another group may entail personal interaction that builds a level of trust. The key is focusing on what really motivates members so that efforts to communicate generate optimal responses.
2) Consider the economics of behavior. Behavioral economics considers the psychological, cognitive and social factors that cause people to behave a certain way when making decisions. In healthcare, this approach creates opportunities for consumers to make choices that lay the groundwork for optimal health. For instance, opt-out strategies can be advantageous when recruiting members for alert programs that provide important notifications or reminders of needed health activities. If consumers are automatically enrolled to receive notifications, they must then take the initiative to turn alerts off if that is their preference. In contrast, opt-in strategies place the burden of action on the member to engage, decreasing the likelihood of participation. Health plans that consider how program design impacts consumer behavior are more likely to engage employees and improve health outcomes.
3) Deploy multi-modal communication tactics. Email may reach a large audience in an efficient, effective way, but it will undoubtedly miss others. Therefore, comprehensive engagement strategies consider the needs of audiences across multiple generations, a variety of cultures and varying socio-economic levels. This means communication tactics should reach beyond electronic modes, including interactive voice response, telephone and traditional methods such as post cards and wallet cards. When health plan outreach considers member communication preferences, satisfaction with employee benefit programs increases and consumers are more likely to respond to and adhere to their healthcare needs.
4) Align wellness vendors for optimal impact. It’s common for a health plan to have more than 20 wellness vendors working independently. The result is often fragmented member communication that can become overwhelming and desensitize members to important information. A smarter approach opens up data silos to allow vendors to work collaboratively to identify opportunities for aligning strategies. This way, communication reaches members in the most impactful way possible. Ultimately, collaborative strategies deliver optimal impact, improving employee response and engagement.
5) Eliminate white noise. Relevance is critical to effective communication in healthcare. Consumers are inundated with information, and personalized targeting matters. Otherwise, critical health plan communication becomes nothing more than white noise that members will overlook. For instance, wellness alerts for mammograms or colonoscopy screenings must reach the right audience via the right communication channel to achieve the best response.
Analytics strategies can also be expanded to predict future healthcare needs. By flagging key indicators, health plans can identify patients who may benefit from targeted communications about potential procedures or conditions. Proactive, targeted communication can then equip those patients with the information needed to make the best choices.
An engaged plan member is a healthier employee. Health plans that align engagement strategies with these five drivers are much better positioned to improve the patient experience and empower consumers to participate more meaningfully in their own care.
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