Healthcare is very personal, and consumers expect health plans to treat it that way. If they don’t, plans risk losing the member’s interest and trust, or perhaps the member altogether. The industry refers to this as member abrasion, which occurs when a health plan wears down a member to a point where they don’t take action on their health or leave a plan entirely.
Member churn isn’t good for anyone. It negatively affects health plan performance, making it less likely that members are getting the care they need. But there are ways that plans can learn to surprise and delight their members, eventually building trust through personalized and engaging experiences that reduce abrasion 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 move through our day, there are times when you’re more likely to respond to a text message (like when you’re browsing your phone on public transportation) or answer a phone call (in the evening as you settle down from your day), and new technologies continue to broaden our options. For health plans, direct mail and live agent calls used to be the only options they had to communicate with members. Those two methods may still be effective with some members, but others may be more likely to engage with email, text messages, or interactive voice calls. Using more channels not only improves engagement but also reduces abrasion and makes members less likely to opt out.
2. Telling members compelling stories that get them to take action.
For mathematicians or data scientists, facts and figures are often enough to paint a complete picture. For most consumers, however, this isn’t always enough to move the needle. For example, facts about a disease or medical procedure might be interesting, but they aren’t personal and often don’t leave consumers with a concrete takeaway. Effective storytelling gives plans a better chance of getting a member to take action.
In a healthcare setting, it’s vital to understand why members take action (or don’t) 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 gets them closer to taking action. Once you’ve connected with members emotionally and created a desire to take action, only now is it time to give them the information they need to take their next steps: how they should make an appointment, what services the plan provides to make taking action easier, and how might they need to prepare for their care experience.
3. Strategically using incentives based on individual needs and preferences. For certain populations, rewards and incentives are an excellent way for plans to drive action among members. Rather than leaning on them too heavily, plans are best served by using incentives strategically. They shouldn’t use them for every single initiative, and they shouldn’t continue to incrementally increase the value of such rewards—if so, thrifty members will see the pattern and won’t engage until the incentives get bigger and better.
The most effective rewards and incentives are valuable to the member based on their individual preferences and needs. For example, a new parent might be more willing to take action if they’re gifted a voucher for free diapers, or a member without a car might act if given credit for Uber or Lyft. Therefore, rather than utilizing more “generic” rewards, plans should help members address their health by leveraging what matters most to them.
Ultimately, the more plans keep their members at the center of their outreach strategy, the less likely they will cause abrasion among members. In addition, this helps build loyalty over time, keeping members both healthy and satisfied.
Photo: Tero Vesalainen, Getty Images