Health care is very personal, and consumers expect health plans to treat it that way. If they don’t, the plans risk losing the interest and trust of the member, or perhaps the member himself. The industry calls this member attrition, which occurs when a health plan wears out a member to the point where they don’t take action on their health or leave the plan altogether.
Members withdrawing is not good for anyone. This negatively affects health plan performance, making it less likely that members will receive the care they need. But there are ways plans can learn to surprise and delight their members, ultimately building trust through personalized and engaging experiences that reduce attrition and build loyalty among members. Three ways to do this include:
1. Calling people at the right time (or maybe not at all).
As we go through the day, there are times when you’re more likely to respond to a text message (like when you’re looking at your phone on public transit) or answer a phone call (in the evening when you’re settling in from your day), and new technologies continue to expand our capabilities. For health plans, direct mail and calls from live agents were the only options they had to communicate with members. These two methods may still be effective for some members, but others may be more willing to engage with email, text messages, or interactive voice calls. Using multiple channels not only improves engagement, but also reduces attrition and makes members less likely to churn.
2. Telling compelling stories to members that move them to take action.
For mathematicians or data scientists, facts and figures are often enough to paint a complete picture. For most users, however, this isn’t always enough to move the needle. For example, facts about a disease or medical procedure may be interesting, but they are not personal and often leave users with no concrete insight. Effective storytelling gives plans a better chance of getting a member to take action.
In a healthcare environment, it is vital to understand why members take action (or not) and lead with that reason in your communications. Plans that vary their messaging can discover which types of stories compel members to click, call back, or interact in a way that moves them closer to taking action. Once you’ve connected emotionally with members and created a desire to take action, it’s only now time to give them the information they need to take their next steps: how to make an appointment, what services the plan offers, to take action more easily and how they may need to prepare for their care experience.
3. Strategic use of incentives based on individual needs and preferences. For certain populations, rewards and incentives are an excellent way for plans to drive action among members. Instead of relying too heavily on them, plans are best served by strategically using incentives. They shouldn’t use them for every single initiative, and they shouldn’t keep incrementally increasing the value of such rewards—if they do, thrifty members will see the pattern and not commit until the incentives get bigger and better. .
The most effective rewards and incentives are valuable to members based on their individual preferences and needs. For example, a new parent may be more inclined to take action if gifted with a voucher for free diapers, or a member without a car may act if given Uber or Lyft credit. Therefore, rather than using more “generic” rewards, plans should help members manage their health using what matters most to them.
After all, the more plans keep their members at the center of their outreach strategy, the less likely they are to create member burnout. In addition, it helps build loyalty over time, keeping members healthy and satisfied.
Photo: Tero Vesalainen, Getty Images