How Coordinated, Digital-First Communications Improve Member Engagement


Digital adoption rates by healthcare consumers accelerated in a mind-blowing way since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with various studies reporting a jump forward of up to seven years. But many health plans haven’t caught up to their members’ expectations for digital communications, creating a risk of falling behind their competitors who are successfully using digital tools to engage members.

According to McKinsey & Company, “in organizations that…invested more capital expenditures in digital technology than their peers did, (their) executives are twice as likely to report outsized revenue growth than executives at other companies.” This is a salient reminder that investing in the right technology with the right partner is critical to a company’s ability to thrive in this rapidly-evolving environment. Let’s look at some of the critical considerations for member engagement that supports a coordinated, seamless member experience.

Coordinated Member Engagement is Timely

Even though it’s smart to be intentional about communications throughout the year, with the 2022 Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) underway, coordinated and effective member communication is top of mind. As we think about the high-priority enrollment messaging that goes out during this time—as well as the recently released 2022 Star Ratings for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans—it’s a great opportunity to recognize that digital technologies can have a major impact on a plan’s efficiency, member experience, and quality scores.

Another urgent issue is the fact that 40.7% of adults with one or more chronic conditions delayed or skipped treatment in 2020 because their provider limited services or they were concerned about COVID-19 exposure, according to a Coronavirus Tracking Survey from the Urban Institute. Of those adults that reported delayed or missed healthcare, 32.6% indicated that doing so worsened their condition(s) or limited their abilities to work or perform other daily activities. This data reinforces the fact that meaningful member engagement is especially critical right now for improved population health and better health outcomes.

Since there are many reasons why a member may delay or overlook necessary preventive care, it’s important to remind them of those key checkpoints in their health journey. This is where coordinated, targeted, and personalized member communications come into play.

Why Should Health Plans Strive for More Coordinated Outreach?

We often talk about delivering the right message at the right time. Today, it’s more important than ever to deliver that message in the right way by collecting each member’s communication preferences and delivering targeted messages through their preferred channel(s) to increase quality interactions and reduce member abrasion.

For example, if a member doesn’t receive communication using their preferred method, they are less likely to pay attention, and it can lead to missed opportunities to hit certain quality measure targets such as preventive screening numbers or annual flu shot compliance. However, when the messaging is relevant, timely, and meaningful, it will resonate with the recipient and inspire them to take action.

In addition, repeatedly mailing documentation is costly for the plan (in terms of materials, postage, and staffing), especially when a single household receives multiple copies of the same preventive care reminder or plan information. This challenge compounds when you consider the impact of the pandemic on the US Postal Service, which has announced a slowdown of first-class mail deliveries.

Solving this requires a sophisticated digital solution that consolidates health-related information and recommended activities for an entire household into a single view. Presented to the responsible party or guardian, these communications and a user-friendly health plan-facing dashboard would encapsulate the data in an easy-to-understand and actionable format.


What does a coordinated communications strategy look like?

Here are a few common examples of how a health plan can use coordinated omnichannel outreach for scalable, cost-effective outreach and improved member satisfaction.

Before coordinated communications strategy: Member receives three separate emails in one week reminding them of various annual activities that need to take place.
After strategy is implemented: Member receives one email with all three reminders and click-through actions that immediately take them to their primary care provider’s appointment scheduling site.

Before: Member receives multiple paper mailings about prescription refills that get set aside and ignored, missing a key deadline leading to non-compliance of important maintenance medications.
After: Member receives a text notification to refill a prescription with their pharmacy’s phone number or click-through options, so they can quickly respond.

Before: Each health plan member within a family or household receives 10 letters or mailed reminders throughout the year. With the average household size in the US at 2.52, that’s 25 mailers each year.
After: The entire household receives 10 mailed pieces each year that contain all open gaps for the guardian or responsible party and their family.


Five Steps to Coordinated, Digital-First Engagement Success

Although many health plans have the data needed to move toward a coordinated communications strategy, they don’t always have systems in place that can optimize, clean, and activate that data across multiple business silos.

But with the rapid acceleration of the healthcare consumer’s digital adoption, the time is right for a digital-first communications strategy. Accelerating your plan’s digital interaction and communications coordination can take place following these distinct steps.

1. Data Aggregation

Many healthcare organizations are plagued with data silos. Thus, the first step in building out a coordinated communications strategy is to aggregate data from departmental silos as well as third-party sources (such as health coaching, biometric screening, disease management, meals, transportation, and other vendors) into a holistic view of members’ health. Surfacing this longitudinal information in a member engagement and intervention management solution brings you one step closer to more organized communications.

By integrating member data and needs across disparate systems and departments, plan operations leaders in both quality and risk adjustment can work from one playbook when reaching out to members to close care gaps. These two revenue-centric silos can come together in a manner that dramatically improves member experience and plan success simultaneously.

2. Segmentation

The next step is to leverage your analytics to create unique segments from demographics, geography, conditions, health status, quality measure compliance, and any other filters that can be used to personalize outreach. Quickly generating highly-specific datasets based on segment, message, or priority is a reality when silo-busting data is aggregated, optimized, and used for highly personalized updates.

3. Targeted & Personalized Communications

Segmented and prioritized data that includes member communication preferences empowers you to deliver coordinated, digital-first engagement for scalable, cost-effective outreach. When this is automated in a member engagement technology solution, digital messages can be deployed significantly faster than printed and mailed pieces. Beyond that, it’s wise to supplement digital communications with telephonic/IVR outreach and print/direct mail for members in digital deserts or those with missing or inaccurate contact information.

Managing all of this from a single platform or interface provides full visibility into when and how members are being communicated with so that you can make strategic decisions about the right messages and gaps to chase.

4. Compelling Rewards & Incentives

Sometimes members need more than a simple reminder. They also need a motivator to implement these health-smart activities. Incorporating a smart and efficient rewards methodology that offers tailored and regionally-relevant incentives helps motivate members and encourage compliance.

Providing personalized action plans and incentives in a highly accessible way—through a mobile app or within the member portal—makes it even easier to activate, reward, and track activity within one comprehensive solution. Pairing health reminders with a compelling incentive motivates members to take the right action and follow-through, while also addressing cross-functional plan goals including quality, care management, risk adjustment, and cost control.

5. Performance Measurement & Reporting

One of the most important aspects of a member engagement strategy is to measure results and adjust tactics, channels, and messaging to continuously demonstrate improvement. Are your communications successfully reaching members? Are members taking the desired actions and effectively closing gaps in care? How is this impacting measure-specific and overall quality performance? Plans should track campaign performance overall and by single outreach against measure and program goals over time using real-time dashboards to support well-coordinated and results-informed interventions.

What’s Next?

When a member misses a screening, is too busy to schedule an appointment, forgets to take their daily medications, or isn’t aware of available resources like a smoking cessation program, both member health and plan performance suffer. It’s important to deliver relevant information to members when, where and how they prefer to receive messages in a coordinated, intentional way.

As a leading provider of health improvement technology solutions, Healthmine uses mass-personalized, omnichannel outreach to convert unengaged members into enthusiastic program participants actively self-managing their health risks and conditions. We prioritize data-driven communications coordination powered by automated processes that save time and money, reduce member abrasion, and improve the health of your members. Contact us to request a demo.