To many consumers, interacting with their healthcare insurers may feel a little like peeling an onion – unpleasant and eye-watering.
That’s because health insurance plans often include so many layers of information that it can be difficult for customers to absorb (much less understand) the details. Only 12% of adults have health literacy skills that are considered strong or proficient, according to a landmark study by the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL).
The majority of Americans, 53%, are only informed enough to be able to read instructions on a prescription label and determine what time a person can take their medication, according to the study. And health literacy declines even further after the age of 65, according to the NAAL.
With that in mind, when the time comes to actually use their insurance coverage, it’s understandable that patients may be flummoxed by deductibles, provider lists, referral requirements, copays, prior authorizations and more medical insurance terms.
Happily, 59% of members still trust insurers to do what’s best for them. Helping them understand their coverage can go a long way toward increasing their plan satisfaction. So can creating more personalized interactions, especially with members over 65.
Like any other demographic, seniors come to the table with different goals and concerns. Medicare users alone are often treated as a homogenous group, but they have a variety of backgrounds, educations, lifestyles, economics and even geography.
Every piece of marketing communication put in front of a member should be relevant to their needs. Don’t send a mammogram reminder to a gentleman in his 80s; it’ll just alienate him and make him feel unappreciated.
Trust, as they say, is fragile: hard-earned yet easily lost.
Go Above and Beyond with Member Experience
Most people’s perceptions of their insurers are set during the first 30 to 90 days of their coverage experience. So collect and use your customer data to shape your approach to members.
Since a big pain point for health consumers is confusion about industry terms and jargon, it’s a smart move to make your website and mailers visually appealing and simple to understand. In its paper “Ten Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations,” the National Academy of Medicine recommended that hospitals and care providers use these communication approaches: Use common words (no jargon); focus on a limited number of messages; use simple visuals; use short sentences written in the active voice; allow users to hear words clearly (for audio only); when asking questions, use checkboxes and provide a “don’t know” option, so that individuals don’t feel compelled to check inaccurate information; and break information into manageable chunks, clearly label each section and sequence them in a logical order.
Tips like these can help make the consumer’s healthcare experience a smooth one.
You should also streamline your member-facing website. Create clear and clean landing pages for a positive user experience. Digital portals and questionnaires shouldn’t require someone to rehash his or her history at each gateway, and they shouldn’t feel generic. You’re a partner in that person’s journey.
Clearly stating the actions a person must take after each step should be another goal. Pre-recorded videos can talk through the nuances of a plan at the onset and guide members during the transition. That extra effort could both strengthen trust and improve patient/member outcomes.
Simply put, treat every member as you would like to be treated.
Entice Customers with Appealing Touchpoints
Those are just a few industry-approved ideas to help improve your members’ journey. Here are some more tips:
1. Rely on member data.
Tie all outreach efforts to the data captured on every individual. Use data from registration or CRM to create a robust customer profile. This information should shape your messaging. Just make sure to delve deeper than conditions, medications and family risk factors. You also may want to ask about customers’ favorite activities, mobility (Do they drive, walk or use public transportation?) and work / life balance. These, too, will impact your member profiles.
2. Never lose that human touch.
All industries are guilty of speaking to customers in jargon and internal vernacular. In healthcare, this can be especially problematic. Shape all communications in plain language. Remember, members are often working with a limited understanding of the healthcare process. Take a second look at all member-facing materials to ensure that nothing goes over the recipient’s head. If you have questions, rework them again.
3. Reward members.
Sometimes, people need motivation for participating. These needn’t be monetary in nature, but weaving in digital coupon codes or vouchers can encourage members to do what’s asked: educate themselves with the provided information. Time-consuming, more complicated asks can certainly benefit from such a tactic. Rewards boost compliance.
BONUS TIP. Coordinate outreach efforts.
Look at the member journey and review and assess the sum of all interactions. Don’t overcommunicate. No one wants to receive three to five letters, mailers and emails on the same topic. You may overwhelm, frustrate and turn them off. Guarantee that every department is on the same page throughout the patient journey to eliminate repetition.
As an insurer, you always want to provide the essential information they need in order to make informed healthcare decisions. Get to know your members, tailor your messaging to their unique circumstances and weave in small incentives and rewards.
Your insurance marketing materials don’t have to be the equivalent of unsavory onion skins. With a little frying oil, batter and salt, you can turn those dreary bulbs into light and crunchy onion rings.