Capturing Healthcare Consumers’ Attention: Three Strategies to Enhance Your Reach and Engagement

March 30, 2021 Jennifer Forster

Motivating healthcare consumers to take action or to change behaviors is difficult. There are all sorts of behavioral theories, motivational tactics, and cultural and linguistic adaptations to consider. But first, you have to capture their attention. That is Step 1. Suppose you don't reach your intended target. In that case, it doesn’t matter how compelling, how catchy, how culturally-appropriate or how relevant your behavioral science-based message is, because it won't be heard.

Americans have become more mobile dependent in the last ten years, using cellphones, smartphones and other mobile devices to communicate and access information. According to Pew Research, 96% of Americans own a cellphone and 81% have a smartphone. These statistics hold true across all income groups: 95% of those earning less than $30K/year have a cellphone of any kind, with 71% owning a smartphone.

People love their cellphones so much, they're opting out of landlines entirely. As of June 2020, 62.5% of households were wireless only, compared to 54.9% in 2018. Mobile devices also influence how people access the internet: 17%, or nearly 1 in 5 Americans, use smartphones as their primary means of online access at home, meaning they have no traditional home broadband service. Among low-income Americans, this statistic jumps to 26%.

Given the realities of our current world, it is clear that any effective engagement strategy must include a mobile component. Let’s explore three strategies for improving reach in our increasingly mobile-dependent environment so that your Step 1 – capturing consumer attention – is successful.

Strategy 1: Use Mobile Call Branding

The rise of illegal robocalls, phone scams, and caller ID spoofing has made people cautious about unrecognized numbers, leading to reduced answered, legitimate calls. Mobile call branding displays the caller's name, and on some devices, a logo and reason for the call, on the end user's cellphone. This reduces unanswered calls due to unknown phone numbers.

We piloted this service with several clients serving Medicaid, Medicare and commercial healthcare consumers, and compared reach rates between study groups (mobile call branding vs. no mobile call branding). With mobile call branding, there was a 7 - 17% improvement in reach rates and a 3 - 11% improvement in callback rates. We estimate that this translates into up to a 5% improvement in overall reach. The chart below illustrates one client’s experience with mobile call branding when it was applied to an adult Medicaid welcome call.

Strategy 2: Take Advantage of Regulatory COVID Communication Exemptions

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in regulatory exemptions that could also help healthcare providers collect mobile phone numbers and consent to text. On March 20, 2020, the FCC issued a declaratory ruling stating that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an “emergency” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). 

This order states that certain COVID-related calls and text messages from health plans, hospitals, physicians, pharmacies and government officials, or by a person acting under the express direction of such an organization, may be exempt from the TCPA. As a result, appropriate healthcare organizations may lawfully communicate through automated or prerecorded calls, and through SMS/text message about COVID-19-related information and mitigation measures to mobile telephone numbers without prior express consent from the healthcare consumer during the emergency period.

At HMS, we know how important it is for Americans to get timely and accurate information about COVID-19 safety, health benefits and vaccinations during this time. Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve supported clients in communicating with over 13 million members. Phone calls and text messages are also a great way to collect consents for future, non-COVID-related healthcare communications, thereby enhancing contact information and communication channels.

In some cases, a "digital first" approach (a text message or an email) is more appropriate and less abrasive than a phone call. However, the challenge with these digital channels is that they aren’t secure, so limited information can be shared.

Strategy 3: Consider a Secure, “Digital First” Experience

One way to ensure that digital personal health information is transmitted securely, is to use Eliza's secure digital channel, which sends a personalized URL to end users via text or email. This allows them to access web-based health information from anywhere on a smartphone, tablet or computer.

As a result, our clients can provide their populations with the same customizable, behavioral science-based, multi-lingual healthcare engagement they offer through Eliza's interactive voice recognition technology, but with a digital twist. Since consumers can access personalized URLs at their leisure, this channel is a great fit for health risk assessments, satisfaction surveys, medication adherence outreaches and appointment reminders and scheduling.


Increasing member engagement requires a multi-pronged approach and this is truer than ever in today’s mobile-centric world. Capturing consumer attention means cutting through the noise and navigating regulatory obstacles. To enhance your reach, try our three strategies: implementing mobile call branding, leveraging regulatory COVID communication exemptions, and deploying a secure, “digital first” experience.

For more ideas on improving reach with your member population, contact your Client Engagement Manager or feel free to contact us.  

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