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Key Strategies for Successful Member Engagement

March 30, 2015

As the healthcare industry shifts from a consumption and value based model to one driven by quality, value and efficiency, consumers now have more choices than ever. As a result, health plans are increasingly focused on becoming more consumer-centric, implementing innovative member engagement strategies as a competitive differentiator not only to promote well-being, but to attract new members and retain existing members.

Why it matters

Engaging members is essential from a quality, value and efficiency standpoint. Further, studies show that engagement programs and incentives can greatly improve participation in health promotion programs, while building brand loyalty – a key factor in member retention.1-2

Benefits of member engagement:

Key Strategies for Successful Member Engagement

How to do it

In order for a member engagement program to be successful, sophisticated strategies and analytics are essential, setting the foundation for the program. Health plans need to determine the most effective strategies to target and engage the right member, though the right channel, with the right message, at the right time, in a meaningful manner that is valuable and relevant.

This can be complex and requires a multi-pronged approach and implementation. Ensuring members are engaged and achieving the desired results involves a targeted and personalized multi-channel outreach strategy, consistent messaging, as well as incentives and flexible choices to make a difference.

Key Strategies for Successful Member Engagement

Let’s take a detailed look at best practices in each area.

  • Analytics: When it comes to member engagement, analytics plays two roles. First, it helps identify members whose health could be improved through more robust and proactive care management. Second, analytics provides insight into when and how to reach these members with the right message and cadence to establish an interactive relationship between health plan and member.
  • Flexibility and Choice: Convenience is the key to bolstering member engagement. It’s critical to offer convenient choices, locations and flexibility for health-related initiatives. This matters particularly for commercial members who have busy lives and are less flexible with their time.
  • Targeted Communications: Member outreach should take place using a mix of traditional and digital channels with tailored, personalized messages. Messaging should focus on relevant areas around health education, treatment adherence, and health assessment needs relevant to the member.
  • Member Incentives: Incentives are often key to encouraging and initiating behavioral changes and to get members more engaged in preventive measures. Offering an incentive, such as gift cards, can be a strong motivator to participate in preventive health assessments or other health-related activities, and can increase participation by as much as 45%.
  • Point-of-care Support: A strong intervention platform informed by the aforementioned analytics gives providers access to real-time member health information that helps them provide better and more targeted care. By creating the right treatment plans for members, providers can close care gaps, improve service, and improve care quality—increasing member satisfaction, retention, and engagement.
  • Health Plan Best Practices. Advanced analytics and strategies are key components of member engagement, but they need to be supported by consistent messaging and high-quality service levels during all member interactions across the board. Extensive training and education across all areas that touch the member at some point must be part of any successful member engagement program to ensure consistency across the board.

What’s next?

The above outlines best practices that create a strong foundation for member engagement in the healthcare industry. However, this is only part of the journey; ongoing enhancements and evolution are important to stay relevant and keep up with ever-changing trends. A few components health plans should consider when taking member engagement to the next level are ongoing innovations, testing and operationalization.

  • Innovations: As the industry continues to evolve and change, so do requirements and innovations for member engagement programs. Innovative expansion of program features, such as tele-health, mobile care options, mobile apps, and interactive portals are all examples of enhancements that can help to further engage members in health-related activities.
  • Test and Learn: When it comes to member engagement one size does not fit all. Depending on the health plan’s objectives, target audiences, and industry trends, the approach, communications strategy and offering need to be customized accordingly. Continuous testing can help to determine what works and what doesn’t work to define future strategies.
  • Operationalization: Health plans often spend a lot of time on developing new strategies and programs, but forget to plan for the operational needs for successful program execution. Early inclusion, communication, and training across all involved teams (e.g. providers and call centers) are crucial for program realization.

Though member engagement can be challenging for this highly-regulated industry, it also offers tremendous opportunity. With continuous optimization and enhancements, leveraging existing best practices from other industries healthcare organizations can achieve great success in building long-lasting relationships with their members.

1. Seaverson, E., Grossmeier, J., Miller, T., Anderson, D. The role of incentive design, incentive value, communications strategy, and worksite culture on health risk assessment participation. American Journal of Health Promotion, 2009; 23(5), 343-352.
2. Taitel, M., Haufle, V., Heck, D., Loeppke, R., Fetterolf, D. Incentives and Other Factors Associated with Employee Participation in Health Risk Assessments. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 2008; 50(8), 863-872.

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