Resolving Healthcare Challenges with Successful Member Communications
The modern healthcare industry looks much different these days. The rules have changed. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), combined with the rise of digital technology, have put a stronger focus on member communications. The convergence of these macro-environmental elements has given rise to some painful (yet solvable) challenges facing those charged with deploying effective member communication systems. Whether you’re a plan administrator, a clinical communicator or a healthcare marketer, developing impactful communications is imperative for success.
The ACA, in many ways, has turned the healthcare industry on its head. While uncertainties remain, one thing has become clear – healthcare is rapidly shifting towards a customer-centric model. With seemingly endless choices for every product and service and the “on demand” technology of the digital age, the modern consumer is empowered and equipped with readily-accessible data. This raises the bar for those seeking to penetrate the data fog presented to these consumers, and to present clear, actionable messaging.
To successfully engage your audience, personalized communications are no longer a feature; they are expected and essential. The right messaging to the right person at the right time is key in winning the kind of loyalty and customer satisfaction that leads to member retention and supports the pursuit of excellence in standards of care.
Personalizing messaging on a grand scale to varying demographics that run the gamut from 20-something urban dwellers to suburban seniors is, at best, extremely challenging. But with the right approach – and the right technology – you can make communications work for you, and your audience. The following considerations will help you build a solid communication plan from the ground up.
Gather Data, “Big” and Small
In the digital age, data is everywhere. It can tell us about member preferences, habits and history. Despite the complexities of collecting data on consumers and members in healthcare, there are plenty of data sources available to help you hone your messaging – including simple descriptive categories like geography, age, gender and language of preference. Communicate with your audience to gather these details, and start building customer profiles that can then leverage personalized communications.
Find Out Where to Reach Your Audience
Once you’ve opened a dialogue with your audience and collected basic information, it’s time to dig deeper into their communication preferences. There are numerous ways to communicate – email, US mail, telephone, text message, etc. Knowing how your audience prefers to be reached is a significant factor in personalization. You might have the right message, but if it comes in a letter that ends up in the trash or an email that is deleted, what good has it done?
Communication Is a Two-Way Street
In order to build accurate customer profiles and effectively communicate to an audience, interactions between sender and receiver must first take place. Offer your audience options. Let them tell you about the type of communications they want to receive, the type of content they are interested in and the frequency they wish to receive it. Always ask for feedback. Two-way communication should be a continuous strategy throughout the life of your relationship with a particular customer. It will allow you to shape your strategies and messaging to better serve your audiences.
Know What’s Important
Healthcare communications center on a wide variety of topics, ranging from clinical and population care management topics to topics focused plan benefits. Finding the right balance of promotional and mandatory information – and the right amount of information to deliver in a certain time period – is paramount to success. Too much information can turn your audience off. If you’re over-messaging, those messages may be lost in the noise. Conversely, if your communications are too sporadic, you risk losing customer engagement. There’s no magic formula, no perfect recipe. The “right” mix will be determined over time with forethought, planning, testing and continual improvement.
Developing and delivering a customized message to a single person can be difficult. But delivering impactful messages to tens of thousands of people? That’s a monumental challenge. Thankfully, there are plenty of emerging technologies to help manage the process – including ABG’s healthcare communication platform, BridgeSuite. Technology platforms help manage audience databases, automate messaging and provide communicators with strategies that are easy to manage – and easy to execute. With a wide range of communication options, you can provide your audience with an approach that fits their communication preferences. Technology platforms also ease the burden on your bottom line by helping you get messaging from point A to point B in a compliant, accurate and effective manner.
Personalization in mass communications is no easy task. But with the right technology, consistent monitoring and a solid strategy, you can deliver effective and efficient messaging to any audience.