The introduction of the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace has created a rapidly growing, competitive landscape with diverse audience segments. Member engagement has become a key focus for health plans to increase member interaction, preventive health assessments, and better self-care initiatives.Member engagement programs can provide enormous benefits to both members and health plans, if executed properly. Members will benefit from increased access to care, enhanced awareness of their health status, and improved care management. Moreover, health plan providers are seeing reduced emergency room visits, a lower rate of unnecessary diagnostic tests and, most importantly, fewer gaps in care and greater risk score accuracy.
Achieving meaningful member engagement is not easy, and it requires a combination of best practices across multiple disciplines to be successful. Best practices include the following:
- Convenient options
- Incentive offers
- Audience insight
- Targeted engagement
- Point-of-care decision support
Let’s look at each area individually.
Convenient Options: In order for member engagement programs to be successful, convenient options that fit the audience’s lifestyle are very important. This means that members should have choices when it comes to timing and location. For example, partnerships with retail clinics, such as Walgreens, enable health plans to offer many location options and flexible hours, while at the same time serving as a one-stop shop for members to receive their health assessment, diagnostic tests, consultation, fill prescriptions and take care of other shopping needs.
Incentive Offers: It can sometimes be challenging to modify existing behaviors or encourage new ones. To motivate members to be more pro-active about their health and get health assessments completed, incentives can be very powerful to trigger that first step. Many health plans are now offering incentives, such as gift cards, for members who complete health assessments or engage in another relevant way.
Audience Insight: In order for member engagement programs to be impactful, it is important to know the audience and engage them in a meaningful way. Organizations are increasingly making use of analytic insights to identify the right members that need to be engaged and identify characteristics and needs to tailor engagement plans and messaging for targeted and personalized outreach. For example, health plans should engage with members who have chronic illnesses on a more frequent basis to ensure they are informed about taking the right steps to manage their condition.
Targeted Engagement: The evolution of communications channels and growing audience segments has made it even more important to know where to reach members and how to drive engagement. Varying member needs requires a sophisticated and targeted multi-channel approach to achieve the results sought. Utilizing a mix of traditional and digital channels to tailor communications to the audience and communicate to them via their preferred channels, such as direct mail, email, postcards or short message service (SMS), are key tactics to optimize reach and engagement.
Point-of-Care Decision Support: The final piece of a successful member engagement program is to provide clinicians with analytically-driven decision support at the point of care. Having patient data at their fingertips helps providers make informed decisions and provide the best care possible. Offering personalized, high-quality service increases member satisfaction, likelihood to return for further care, and true engagement.
Finding the right combination of engagement strategies to deliver effective, targeted and personalized engagement will help health plans reach their goal in achieving the best outcomes in their membership outreach efforts.