One of the most important aspects that separate good, knowledgeable sports coaches from the ones who win championships year after year is that the repeat winners understand they need to see and treat their players as individuals. They know what motivates one player to excel, whether it’s getting in their face and coming down hard or providing soft guidance and support, will cause another to fail miserably and they adjust accordingly.
As former New York Giants Head Coach and Super Bowl winner Bill Parcels has said, “Look, coaching is about human interaction and trying to know your players.”
What works in the world of athletics also works in the real world, especially when it comes to motivating members to improve their own health. You can’t settle for blanket solutions or approaching everyone with the same set of tools. To be truly effective, you must understand the individuals with whom you’re working.
That’s why having population health analytics that identify high-risk members, no matter how sophisticated they are, isn’t enough. You need to be able to get below the data to understand what will get members motivated and activated, as well as what will prevent them from following a program, if you hope to succeed at a higher level.
It would be easy if you could follow football legend Lou Holtz’s advice when he was asked how he got to be such a great motivator of players: “Motivation is simple. You eliminate those who are not motivated.”
But health plans don’t have that option. Managed care leaders must meet their members where they are and work with them to change any negative behaviors impacting their health to positive ones. Not just temporarily but in the long term.
One of the most important ways care managers of health plans can do that is to have regular, meaningful conversations with the members in their care using motivational interviewing and other in-depth techniques. Care managers need to discover what is important to members and how better health might impact it.
For example, a member who has difficulty walking due to diabetes or obesity may want to dance at her daughter’s wedding or throw a football in the backyard with his grandson. The care manager who can develop a strategy based on those personal, concrete goals will be far more likely to have success motivating that member than one who talks in the abstract about being healthy in “the future.” Especially since humans are wired with a “present bias” that normally places our short-term desires (e.g., eating a big, delicious bowl of ice cream) ahead of our future needs (walking, not losing a foot, etc.).
Yet it takes more than simply talking to gain the full picture.
Some people will avoid the truth so they don’t have to make changes. Others will sincerely state things they believe to be true that aren’t.
This is where in-home visits for the highest-risk members can be a game-changer for health plans. A nurse, care manager, or even unlicensed staff member who walks into the member’s home can see exactly how they live to gain a better understanding of who the member is.