The main goal of healthcare providers and organizations is to provide better health outcomes. From patients to doctors to hospitals to plan providers, improved patient health is the name of the game. The healthcare industry is consistently trying to discover new ways to create a healthier populace. Healthier people mean less overcrowding of hospitals, less money spent on care (by both patients and plan providers) and more resources allocated to curing the most challenging diseases.
Advanced medicine and technology are helping create better health outcomes every day. However, nothing beats the age-old practice of prevention. While we can effectively treat diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure once they happen, taking preventative measures in lifestyle choices and habits can help make sure the treatment isn’t necessary in the first place.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was, in part, designed to increase disease prevention in healthcare and ostensibly, lower the enormous costs of the American healthcare system. Prevention is easier said than done. It can’t be forced and it can’t be accomplished with laws and regulations alone. Prevention requires education and communication in the form of patient outreach. Centralized, coordinated outreach programs have proven effective.
In a study conducted by the University of Colorado on patients with diabetes based on American Diabetes Association criteria, outreach coordinators contacted a group of patients who were overdue for provider visits. After being contacted, 30 percent of those patients completed a visit, and more than 80 percent of those who did, completed lab testing at least one day ahead of time. That’s quite an effect from a simple, coordinated outreach effort.
Outreach program results were similar for colorectal cancer screenings. According to a study supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), “An intensive outreach program targeting vulnerable patients dramatically improved screening rates for colorectal cancer, The study indicates that comprehensive outreach programs run through community health centers hold great promise in reducing preventable deaths due to colorectal cancer.”
Outreach improves satisfaction among providers as well, as it saves resources and time. According to a study on Asthma patients, those in a staff-model health maintenance organization “decreased their resource use between 57 to 75 percent by participation in an AOP as compared with a randomized control group receiving only an educational intervention. Substantial savings were achieved compared with the cost of the AOP nurse.”
We know that outreach works but far too many outreach campaigns are conducted in an unproductive “fly by the seat of your pants” manner, with patchwork efforts dependent largely on the availability of a small group of individuals charged with executing a daunting program, essentially devaluing the outcome and negating the purpose of outreach. If highest outcomes are paramount, intense coordination and logistics are required to fully implement and execute an effective outreach campaign.
Other factors contribute to failed outreach efforts as well, including:
- Postage expenses
- Bad mail or email addresses and phone numbers
- Lack of caregiver resources
- Lack of engaging content
- Timing issues
- Compliance issues
- Lack of technology support
Healthcare service and plan providers have a lot on their plates, and prevention outreach is often considered a luxury – but it shouldn’t be. Outreach contributes to quality performance measures and need to be consider as imperative as all other clinical communications. The rise of innovative communication technology is helping plan and service providers develop functional and effective outreach programs for a variety of health issues – and they’re getting results.
Automated digital communication platforms can help providers launch and manage far-reaching and highly effective outreach programs that result in healthier patients – and a healthier bottom line. Digital member communication platforms combine the necessary information, monitoring and delivery functions into one place to ensure that outreach campaigns not only reach their intended target, but garner their desired results. There are a lot of moving parts in an automated communication platform, but from a macro standpoint, here are the basics:
Step 1: Prioritization
By gathering data – including clinical specs and test results – providers can prioritize messaging and the groups they wish to reach. For instance, if clinical data shows a certain patient demographic is susceptible to a particular disease or virus – say, those in a certain geographical location with a prevalence of the Zika virus – they can determine which outreach programs would be most effective for that particular audience.
Step 2: Tracking
Once a digital member communication platform is launched, it’s important to gather contact info – including the desired method of communication for each patient – from the population that providers serve. This information, which can be captured via existing databases and confirmed with opt-in functionality, will help inform the logistics of outreach campaigns. Tracking should be done on a consistent basis, as contact info and preferences are subject to ongoing changes.
Step 3: Content Generation
Outreach content is more than just effective messaging (though effective messaging is critical) – it’s ensuring your content is compliant with all HIPPA, ACA and Medicare regulations. From privacy to language preference to access for those with disabilities, compliance can be a tricky business. Digital member communication platforms help simplify and automate content compliance for outreach programs.
Step 4: Transport and Delivery
It goes without saying, if the message never reaches the intended recipient, the desired action won’t happen. Digital member communication platforms eliminate the confusion and mishaps involved with attempting to communicate with a large, diverse audience by automating delivery and tracking engagement. For example: if a particular patient doesn’t open an initial email, an automatic function can trigger a second email with a different headline or message.
Step 5: Monitoring
Digital communication platforms are set up to monitor all data and engagement associated with an outreach campaign. Not only does this help gauge the success of a particular campaign, it helps inform future campaigns by demonstrating what works – and what doesn’t. Data already informs our care. With digital communication platforms, it can now inform our outreach as well.
Healthcare is in the midst of a massive sea change. Leveraging technology to help improve patient outcomes will help service and plan providers navigate the rough seas ahead, and create a happy, healthy population.
Based on industry feedback, prioritization, tracking, content generation, transport and delivery, and monitoring are challenging in and of themselves. ABG’s BridgeSuiteTM tool was built to support the needs of the ever-changing healthcare landscape. BridgeSuite™ is the only tool that enables comprehensive management and control of critical member document fulfillment programs from the desktops of the people that manage these programs. ABG’s solutions team armed with BridgeSuiteTM and live successful population care management use cases resolves the toughest member communication challenges. “Data Driven, People Powered” is ABG’s motto. BridgeSuiteTM is the only tool that takes the patchwork effectiveness out of the equation enabling your outreach program to truly reach your “better outcomes” potential.
Learn more about digital member communication solutions by checking out our communication software options.