As the world slowly comes out of the pandemic, many aspects of life have forever changed. Hybrid work models, remote learning, healthier eating habits and a renewed appreciation for family and nature are just a few of the societal shifts that will likely last in the years to come. For those in the healthcare industry, however, the matter of most attention will entail care delivery. People have gotten more involved in all facets of healthcare—a good problem to have, ultimately—requiring healthcare organizations to adopt a more consumer‑directed approach to their services.
For one, being more informed and engaged increases the chances that consumers will compare healthcare plans against one another, looking to understand the value beyond the basic benefits. And though 42% of enrollees said out‑of‑pocket spending was their greatest concern, others were worried about monthly premiums, in‑network providers, medication coverage and so on. People are more willing to delve into the details of their primary coverage, putting pressure on providers to educate members on the overall value of their plans—or risk losing them.
You need only look to the weight shift in STAR ratings to see what Medicare is trying to achieve in terms of both retention and engagement. Each plan earns an annual rating of 1 to 5 based on quality of care, chronic conditions management, customer service, member experience and member complaints. This makes it much easier for people to compare the overall performance of competing plans. It’s hard to ignore the need to be more proactive in the way you engage these new consumers, starting at the point of sale.
New Consumers Lead to New Paths for Engagement
As with any consumer, engaging members hinges on your understanding of their wants, needs and behaviors. Member knowledge is the only surefire means of persuading a base that sticking with your plan would be in their best interest. How you go about doing this is entirely up to you, but where we’ve seen the most benefit for our healthcare clients starts with profiling their current roster of members and building personas based on those findings.
Personas allow our team to better identify and build out specific communication pathways and engagement loops to provide members with educational information to make informed decisions—decisions involving their coverage, of course, but also in relation to other areas of their health and well‑being. Because we use an omnichannel approach to marketing, more than one pathway is used for content delivery. Using various communication channels ensures that providers will reach members at all the right touchpoints along the “customer” journey.
Not ones to leave well enough alone, our team continues to test and refine all elements of an outreach campaign (program, messaging, design, rate, volume, etc.) to match the individual’s unique wants and needs. After all, Medicare enrollees don’t form some homogenous group of people. They may share similar traits, but they have different habits, behaviors, interests and, more importantly, decision-making processes.
The ultimate goal here is to personalize interactions and simplify the insured’s experience to make it as real and authentic as possible. With time, trust begins to form. Though it may sound impressive, one survey found that only 59% of consumers trust insurers to do the right thing. So, you’ve definitely got your work cut out for you in this regard.
Forging Ahead with Greater Trust
As you begin to reevaluate your marketing and communication efforts, there are a few things to keep in the back of your mind when building out a new campaign. You can’t just overhaul your messaging and expect results. It often takes a more systematic approach to gain greater trust from your target audience. Here’s where you should focus your attention:
1. Communicate with members in real and meaningful ways.
Many organizations in the healthcare industry keep communications more transactional in nature, with most messages containing simple reminders on appointments, payments and so on. But another layer is often necessary to endear your operations with members. Strike a better balance by also exchanging more personalized, member-centric messaging—HIPPA compliant, of course. Perhaps provide educational content and tools for members to gain greater insights into condition management or preventative care. Or, consider providing preemptive and assistance communication on a regular basis.
2. Recognize the importance of timeliness.
Useful information is only useful when it’s given at opportune times. Provide members with advice or instructions early enough so they can act promptly, based on the given situation. For example, temperature extremes increase the chances of COPD flare‑ups, so reaching out to patients with this condition at such times can help in establishing a stronger relationship with that segment of members. If you want to go broader with your outreach efforts, the same could be said for trends suggesting COVID spikes in a certain area. Offer members supplies and additional information at these times.
3. Meet members where they are.
This sounds a bit ambiguous, and many in the healthcare industry believe this to be in reference to communication channels. True to a degree, as one report uncovered that 39% of Medicare beneficiaries gather Medicare‑related information from online sources, 37% through their insurer and 30% from government websites. But members want to feel as if their health plans know them. Improve member onboarding and retention campaigns by capturing basic information like language, conditions, social determinates of health and so on. Then, shape all communications around your learnings.
When working to build trust, communication should always take place on the consumer’s terms. In this situation, you’re corresponding with members, but the same rule applies. It all comes down to timely, personalized messaging on the consumer’s channels of choice. Get that right, and the foundation will be firm.
Partnering on the Path to Purchase
Sometimes, health plans struggle to achieve the right level of personalization and meaningful interaction with members. It’s why many choose to partner with KERN Agency. Our process always begins with a thorough review of your current outreach efforts. We look at the messaging, tone, content and timeliness of communications to determine whether it’s clear, consistent and relevant to the path to purchase—or retention, really.
Then, we move to membership profiling and persona creation before developing engagement programs—fully customized to speak authentically to the individual and their likeliest choice of health plans. Transitioning all content to multichannel options will also be on the docket. Video, podcasts, health and wellness centers, additional UI/UX for mobile app and website can all be expected.
From there, our team will get to developing marketing automation programs that work with Salesforce, Marketo and countless other solutions. This allows for maximum communication, data collection and insights development—with smaller‑than‑expected marketing staff or other resources.
Throughout the campaign, our team conducts research and captures continual feedback from members on their experience and satisfaction with the plan, providers and even care delivery. This allows us to continue building brand attributes that allow both members and prospects to see the value in your health plans.
If you’d like to learn more about what we can do for your organization, don’t hesitate to contact us. A member of our team is ready to sit down with you to explore your options and develop a solution perfectly suited to your brand and your member base.