Cultivating an extensive health content strategy begins with the ideal partner

January 1, 2006

As health plans seek to enhance their consumer-directed healthcare offerings, a comprehensive health content strategy is an effective way to help members "get smart" about their health and wellness, and to promote the appropriate utilization of healthcare services. Through the delivery of targeted healthcare information and personalized decision support tools, health plans can foster better healthcare decisions, reach out to members with chronic conditions, and improve health outcomes.

Not all health content is created equal, however. A health content partner can make or break a content strategy. The first step, then, is to look for a vendor that:

ENSURING CREDIBILITY

Effectively connecting members to action-oriented, reliable health content requires a thorough evaluation of a content provider's health information to ensure it meets the highest editorial standards.

One way to ensure the credibility of the content is to look for a vendor that is accredited by an independent, third-party organization.URAC, a non-profit organization that performs healthcare accreditation, regularly reviews health content vendors to ensure they meet more than 50 standards for quality and accountability. Through regular audits, URAC helps ensure that health information is accurate, authoritative, objective and up-to-date.

Knowing the credentials of the person responsible for reviewing the articles also helps to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the content. The content vendor should have a solid content review board consisting of physicians that represent all of the common medical specialties, and these physicians should be actively involved in the review process.

Before partnering with a provider, find out who is responsible for reviewing the articles prior to publication and how frequently the content is updated.

PROMOTING HEALTHY BEHAVIOR

The more interactive, engaging, and targeted the health information is, the easier it is for members to retain key messages and act appropriately. The best educational materials deliver personalized health information that can drive behavior change and improve health.

That's why health plans should look for a health content platform that includes risk assessments that are tightly integrated with the rest of the content. The member always should be given next steps or additional reading-so there are no "dead ends" in their educational experience. For example, members may complete an online health risk assessment that recommends regular exercise and physical activity. From here, members could be offered a step-by-step guide to starting a successful exercise routine. The guide could include additional tools such as an online calculator to determine target heart rate. Together, such tools give members the resources they need to avoid illness and maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Further, the content should incorporate vivid illustrations and multimedia tools that make the information appealing and easy to understand. When high-quality images and interactive tools are properly integrated into the health education experience, they can dramatically enhance an individual's comprehension and retention of the information. The saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words," is especially true when it comes to trying to understand the complexities of the human body or the intricacies of common surgeries and procedures.