- In an increasingly competitive health insurance environment, payers that can successfully increase consumer engagement and beneficiary satisfaction will be best positioned for success.
David Biel, the US Leader for Health Plans consulting at Deloitte believes that consumer engagement will be a determining factor in the success of health plans in the near future.
“A health plan is going to differentiate itself and capture a consumer’s heart and mind by getting them connected to their providers, pharmacy, and other services,” Biel said.
Payers can employ a number of consumer engagement strategies that successfully leverage personal preference, pricing transparency, technology, and specialized marketing in order to create desirable health plan offerings in 2018 and beyond.
Enable healthcare consumerism by supporting health-positive behaviors
Encouraging beneficiaries to make positive healthcare decisions requires payers to have information readily available to consumers, such as provider listings and pharmaceutical options, and provide potential enrollees the ability to navigate that information.
“To effectively guide consumers, payers and providers should be prepared to heighten consumer awareness by giving them the right information at the right time at each stop along the consumer-decision journey,” analysts from Mckinsey said.
“However, guiding consumers is more than simply making high-quality information available; thus, the second step in guidance is to ensure that consumers can easily connect with the information they need.”
Payers that invest in digital tools that streamline decision-making information and processing can facilitate this consumer need. Another way payers can support consumer decisions is through non-traditional partnerships with guides and personal health consultants that encourage a consumer’s healthcare goals.
Facilitating the growth and confidence of a beneficiary's ability to make informed, self-guided healthcare decisions can lead to strong enterprise returns.
“A patient’s report of ‘lack of motivation’ can sometimes point to something deeper, such as a lack of confidence or fear of failure,” the McKinsey analysts said.
“Insights such as these create opportunities for payers and providers—by understanding what actually drives motivation (or the lack thereof) in patients with chronic conditions, healthcare stakeholders can develop effective strategies to improve outcomes and lower the cost of care.”
Design retail experiences that delight consumers and enhance the shopping experience
Healthcare consumer experts see the retail experience as beneficial to consumer engagement because it can build brand loyalty and make the consumer feel as though their purchasing power is important to health plans.
Dave Kriesand, Vice President of the Consumer Experience Center at Banner Health, believes that healthcare organizations must take on a “the customer is always right” approach to create desirable retail experiences for consumers.
“As consumers have more choice and increased personal out-of-pocket expenses, they will be more selective with their dollars and look for experiences that are easy, personalized and build an emotional connection,” Kriesand said to PatientEngagementHIT.com.
“This is no different from what we all experience with companies like Apple, Amazon, and American Express.”
While Banner Health uses a tool that surveys patient experiences and complaints with providers, similar technologies that provide feedback to payers may help payers improve their point-of-sale services and tailor their processes to the needs of newer enrollees.
Specialize marketing that captures plan value through metrics, segmentation
Marketing health plans requires the combination of segmentation and digitally optimized messaging in order to effectively communicate the benefits of a payer’s health plan.
Effective health plan marketing tactics include creating product champions through programs that incentive brand interaction in the form of loyalty savings or improved consumer benefits, and rely on metrics to target your plan’s ideal buyers.
David G. Duvall, MBA, MPH, a Marketing and Communications Officer at Novant Health believes that this should be taken a step further by integrating marketing metrics and consumer segmentation into the clinical and enterprise operations within payer organizations, as he outlined in NEJM Catalyst.
By effectively identifying the needs of beneficiaries based on their demographic attributes and healthcare needs, Duvall and the Novant Health marketing team helped to create a 24-hour virtual hub, digital health portals for scheduling, and incorporate preventive care services that keeps 750,000 members engaged with their health plans.
Based on their findings, Duvall found that strong metric-based marketing efforts can bridge the gap between consumer engagement and clinical efficiency.
“As marketing leaders, we also must become close business partners with our clinical and operations team members,” Duvall said. “When we embed ourselves in their world, new conversations about redesigning approaches to care delivery and a better patient experience will be sparked.
Connect care models that help payers to attract tech-savvy, younger enrollees
Biel suggests that health plans will have to learn how to implement concierge-services and connected interfaces for younger generations.
As younger generations become healthcare consumers, health plans will have to adapt to a beneficiary group that rely heavily on smartphones and related devices to increase their healthcare IQ.
Payers can take advantage of this opportunity by connecting these devices to health plan management that allow new tech-connected consumers to manage their chronic diseases, pay and optimize their healthcare expenses, and actively engagement with their healthcare options at will.
“The healthcare system has the opportunity to evolve the two aspects together — to try to leverage the next gen technologies with this new set of beneficiaries to find new and better ways to coordinate care through connected devices and next-gen technologies to try to move the care model and change the care model and drive it more in the home, not in the hospital,” Biel said.
Payers should identify the strategies that are most applicable to their consumer and enrollee populations that help payers capitalize on the benefits of effective consumer engagement.