Five ways to improve health plan member engagement

Published: July 30, 2020 by Experian Health

The focus on improving health plan member engagement and overall experience has been steadily growing over the years, much of it being driven by the push towards a more consumer-friendly healthcare experience. James Beem, Managing Director, Global Healthcare Intelligence at J.D. Power, states, “health plans are doing a good job managing the operational aspects of their businesses, but they are having a harder time addressing the expectations members have based on their experiences in other industries where their service needs are more effectively addressed with better technology.” His remarks are based off of findings from the annual Commercial Member Health Plan Study, which also found that care coordination between different providers and care settings is a top challenge health plans are facing today.

Most of our conversations with health plan prospects and customers revolve around how digital technology can improve health plan member engagement and close gaps in care. From our experience, here are five key digital strategies that health plans can employ to better engage members and improve satisfaction.

Call centers remain a cornerstone of member engagement. From onboarding new members to closing gaps in care, the call center is where the rubber meets the road between health plans and their members. At Experian Health, we focus on making it easier for call center agents to find and book appointments on behalf of members – specifically, we eliminate the need for three-way calls with providers by giving agents access to a digital scheduling platform. It automates providers’ scheduling rules, while also protecting their calendars, and allows health plans to schedule appointments for members without having to call the provider office. In some cases, once our platform is in place, we’ve seen scheduling rates increase by 140%, call times cut in half, and show rates go up.

A large factor in social determinants of health is the availability of transportation – are your members physically able to make it to and from their appointment? While members may know what care they need and are able to book an appointment, they may not be able to show up for that appointment due to unreliable or non-existent transportation. The member doesn’t show, the care gap remains, and health plans take a hit on quality metrics. What’s worse, the member puts themselves at risk for readmission or other, costly trips to the ED for care that remains unaddressed – all an expensive medical cost for the plan. We are proud to work with transportation vendors and ultimately, include the ability to schedule transportation in a workflow while booking an appointment. By facilitating easy access to transportation as part of the appointment scheduling process, we are ensuring a better outcome for everyone.

Why not offer the functionality that consumers are accustomed to in nearly every other industry? Booking a hotel, flight, or dinner reservation can all be done online via a mobile device, so why not an appointment? Imagine being able to extend this type of convenience and consumer-friendly experience to your members. They come to the health plan’s site or app to search for an in-network provider and can then schedule an appointment in real-time, on the spot, day or night, no phone call required.

Instead of simply sending members text and phone call reminders to schedule care, health plans can use automated outreach to send those messages with the ability to schedule an appointment via self-service. The member would receive a text message or phone call, and after confirming their identity, would receive their personal health-related message along with the ability to schedule an appointment as part of the outreach process. In a few clicks, or with a few verbal responses, the appointment is scheduled, and the care gap is closed with very minimal effort.

The struggle to find and maintain accurate contact info for members is real. Fortunately, Experian Health has unprecedented access to consumer data. With the largest consumer database, collected on more than 300 million consumers, we can provide a deeper understanding of your current members or prospects in your markets. These data assets can enable the most effective marketing and communication strategies to improve enrollment rates as members are more successfully identified and reached. The data can also be leveraged to enhance internal analytics, like member risk score algorithms or other models, to improve member outcomes.

Learn more about how a digital care coordination platform can help your organization improve member engagement and the member experience.

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