As more consumers receive messages through mobile devices, it is important that health plans work to adapt their messages to be both culturally and technologically appropriate.
According to a Pew Research Center Report, 12% of African Americans and 13% of Hispanics are “smartphone-dependent” and are less likely to have home internet service, compared with 4% of whites.
In 2014, the Institute for eHealthy Equity’s Text4Wellness e-health initiative was tested in African American churches in Atlanta and in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, for nine months and received 2,500 participants to opt-in. The text message program, which received a $100,000 grant from Aetna, included wellness and fitness information, says Buchanan. In July, the institute is partnering with the African Methodist Episcopal Church for the organization’s general conference, to connect with the church’s health ministers.
The church has 2 million African American members, and 40% of its church members will be given timely health information crafted from the institute’s relationships with health plans.
“We listened to African Americans in faith-based communities, and worked through known and loved organizations, and that was effective,” Buchanan says. “Our approach was culturally appropriate, but also linguistically accurate and ‘sticky’ for consumerism.”
Though using technology to reach diverse patients seems to be an easy solution, it should be used as one part of a larger, targeted- outreach strategy.
“It’s a real mistake to think technology will solve all of your marketing problems,” Reyer says. “Data shows that it is just one important aspect of overall effective human connection. Being able to have a personal connection, along with some digital tools and clear information, makes for long-term relationship building.”