5 Ways to Reach, Engage and Empower High-Risk Members

August 20, 2019 HMS

Engaging the Modern Healthcare Consumer

Reaching and engaging the modern healthcare consumer is often easier said than done — especially when that person is considered high or rising risk. Individuals dealing with one or more chronic illness, poor social determinants of health (SDoH) or any number of care-inhibiting factors require special consideration and personalized support to facilitate positive outcomes.

The circumstances that constitute “high risk” make effective communication and timely intervention all the more critical; however, it is those same circumstances that can render engagement efforts difficult.

Quality measurement and data analytics tools are allowing payers to communicate with members in innovative ways and encourage healthy behaviors. Here are five ways health plans can better reach, engage and empower members to improve satisfaction and outcomes.

  1. Know Who You’re Talking To

As the paradigm shifts from fee-for-service to fee-for-value, we hear a lot about the “whole-person” approach to healthcare — that is, taking into consideration a person’s physical environment, behavioral health and socioeconomic conditions to develop a care management plan that addresses all of these factors.

This same concept applies to how we communicate with our members. Understanding a person’s background, lifestyle, needs and motivations allows us to deliver messages that resonate and inspire action. Risk intelligence technologies can aid in this effort by furnishing comprehensive member data as early as the point of enrollment, allowing payers to identify changes in risk and provide personalized communication that supports timely intervention.

On a fundamental level, people connect with people. Approaching every touch point with a contextual understanding of — and empathy to — the myriad factors influencing a person’s health helps to foster trust and create more productive interactions.

  1. Connect With Members on Their Terms

The more you know about your members, the better you can reach them. Delivering relevant content in ways that are compatible with the daily routines of high-risk members is essential to identifying and addressing potential barriers to care.

Omnichannel communication platforms allow health plans to tailor their communications to the needs of the individual and connect with members via their preferred channels. An outreach strategy for a 28-year-old single mother living in a metropolis, for example, should differ significantly from that for a 75-year-old Medicare recipient living in a rural area. In both instances, however, communication must be relevant, consistent and cohesive, leveraging a variety of channels to ensure information is delivered in an actionable context.

  1. Follow Up & Follow Through

In today’s consumer-centric healthcare environment, member engagement must be an integrated, ongoing commitment — not a task-based effort. Following up before and after appointments, educating members on the importance of regular health screenings and facilitating access to care are just a few ways health plans can encourage members to utilize plan resources and take action in support of their health.

While these touchpoints are vital to ensuring members receive the care they need, they are also an opportunity to collect important information and improve the member experience. Whether the communication is inbound or outbound, customer service must always be at the forefront. Taking the time to ask questions and think critically helps to increase satisfaction and close gaps in care.

  1. Implement an Incentive Program

There is no question that interactive, omnichannel communication is the key to boosting member engagement. But with the right channels in place, incentive programs can augment these efforts to further encourage healthy behaviors.

Incentives can be as simple as including a voucher for an over-the-counter product inside a direct mailing or as substantial as providing access to supplemental care not covered by the individual’s health plan. They can also be non-health related — in some states, Medicaid programs offer incentives like movie tickets as a reward for keeping up with scheduled check-ups and well-child visits.

As with all health engagement efforts, a profound understanding of different member populations is essential to understanding which incentives will drive positive behavioral change. Equally, health plans must continuously evaluate the effectiveness of incentive programs to inform future strategies and create large-scale impact.

  1. Streamline Your Health Engagement Efforts

One of the biggest problems the healthcare industry faces is that care happens in silos. Utilizing an integrated, single-vendor health engagement platform can strengthen the payer/member relationship by delivering personalized and cohesive communications that empower high-risk members to take control of their health. Communicating with members consistently and in the context of their unique circumstances enables progressive improvements in quality and efficiency, resulting in lower costs, increased retention and, ultimately, better clinical outcomes.

A set of proven, member-centric health engagement solutions, can help both public and private health plans intervene before SDoH become barriers to care. Through leveraging proprietary and robust customer data sets, individual motivations can be identified while engaging members with rich, two-way communication through their preferred channels.

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