By Tal Klein, CMO, Relay Network.
Whether they are receiving care for a chronic condition or a more immediate disease, patients undergoing treatment are financially, mentally, emotionally and physically maxed out. As a result, healthcare payers must toe a delicate line when approaching their member engagement strategies. For something as significant as an individual’s health, it’s critical to provide tailored experiences that are contextually relevant and avoid inundating members with extraneous information. Above all, engagements must provide value if payers are aiming to establish lasting healthy habits and create members for life.
Engagement, as defined in this context, is the way in which brands intimately connect with their members; consistent engagement affords endless opportunities to establish valuable and meaningful relationships. Until now, transactional experiences – such as onboarding, appointment reminders and claims information – have been the primary focus of member engagements. However, if payers want to serve a more unified experience, they must demonstrate ongoing care and understanding of their specific patient needs through personal interactions served during pivotal moments in each unique healthcare journey.
In 2021, healthcare payer website portal usage fell to 32% while only 16% of U.S. adults with health insurance used their provider’s mobile app, according to research from Forrester. Mailchimp puts the average email open rate for healthcare at a bleak 22%. If meaningful engagements can improve sentiment, lower costs and drive member retention, it’s obvious why 57% of healthcare payer executives seek better service and engagement as one of their top three outcomes of digital transformation.
But if portals, apps and email marketing aren’t the answer – what is? Feeds are quickly becoming the medium and channel of choice for meaningful digital engagement. Intuitive, easy to use and designed with consumer habits in mind, feeds are familiar and comfortable for users as many have been exposed to their scrollable nature through social media platforms such as TikTok or LinkedIn. Feeds offer personalized content via tailored algorithms, value users’ scarce time and present low barriers to entry. By implementing feeds, healthcare payers can harness the positive benefits of an engaged patient population. Below are some of the advantages of engaged members for life:
Engaged Members Are Healthier
More informed members are equipped to make better overall care decisions that lead to healthier habits. According to Health Affairs, engaged patients are more likely to participate in preventative behavior like having regular check-ups, screenings and immunizations. Educating patients about preventative care practices, disease management and vaccination, all via a scrollable feed format they know and love, can create the foundation for healthy habits, lifestyles and members.
Engaged Members Are Less Costly
In a 2021 Cigna study, seven in 10 large firms found that the wellness and screening programs offered to members were effective in reducing overall health costs. Health prevention and educational programs (such as those that explain ER deflection or the benefits of switching from name brand to store brand prescriptions) offer opportunities to reduce costs for both members and payers.
Engaged Members Have Lower Risks
High-risk members are innately more expensive. Patients who suffer from chronic illness but do not prioritize care are at the highest risk for disengagement. By providing education on treatment methods and care options that are easily accessible through a feed, healthcare payers can prevent the chances of this demographic from becoming high-risk and mitigate escalating costs.
Engaged Members Are More Satisfied
Patients are more likely to attribute higher sentiment and loyalty to an engaged and proactive health payer. JD Power research found that proactive engagement efforts by payers drive significant improvements in overall customer satisfaction. Members who regularly see communications from their health payers in a feed are more likely to hold a positive brand image, advocate for the brand and become a source of third-party credibility.
Engaged Members Are More Loyal
Members who see value in their payers are less likely to disengage, opt-out or churn. In other words, strong member engagement leads to higher individual and employer retention. According to Zipari, 93% of health payers who made digital investments noted significant increases in membership and decreases in turnover by as much as 73%.
Each year brings a new shopping period of employers and individuals comparing payers with startups to find the best health insurance provider. Meaningful member engagement is the competitive advantage that health payers can leverage to improve bottom lines and brand loyalty. The future of retention is now dependent on payers’ ability to demonstrate a high-value member experience through sustained, personalized interactions.
Engagement ties together member recruitment, retention and satisfaction. If engagement is the thread to a seamless patient experience, then feeds are the needle. Our own research suggests that almost three in five members would be more willing to engage with their health payers if provided with content that is personally relevant via a feed. For payers looking to create a holistic patient experience, feeds are the digital solution that nurture and maintain members for life.