Why Consumer Engagement Must Be a Whole-Person Solution

May 17, 2019

Offering multiple, segmented approaches to health can confuse consumers-and reduce engagement. Instead, focus efforts on comprehensive solutions.

The health insurance industry is at a tipping point. Empowered consumers, now accustomed to convenient, on-demand service, are shopping for better options. Increasingly-competitive Medicaid contracts and employer RFPs demand that plans demonstrate innovation. New entrants, capitalizing on high costs and poor engagement, are siphoning off employer business. And frustrated large employers are threatening disintermediation altogether.

While much remains unknown in this changing landscape, it’s undeniable that the status quo is no longer an option. Instead, health plans that are thriving through this era of disruption all have one thing in common: they are reinventing their approach to supporting patients beyond the walls of care delivery. We call this approach digital health management.

In this article, we'll explain how healthcare organizations can drive patient engagement and satisfaction while improving outcomes by supporting the whole person in one comprehensive digital solution.

Comprehensive digital health management

Eighty percent of outcomes are determined by nonclinical factors. In other words, health is affected by a myriad of factors that often happen at home, in between healthcare encounters.

Many healthcare organizations acknowledge that people need more holistic support to improve their health-but few are able to put effective practices in place. We’ve observed that many organizations organize their teams around particular conditions, or have invested in multiple point solutions that can overwhelm patients, such as wellness programs, condition-specific apps, or texting services.

Related article: Smart Digital Health Investments That Lead to More Engaged Patients

But it’s possible for organizations to enact practices that support the whole person, and in so doing improve the patient experience and demonstrate value in a competitive market. The following manageable tactics can help you effectively support the comprehensive needs of your patients:

  • Provide omnichannel engagement
  • Deliver health support through a combination of phone calls, messaging, apps, web, and video chat so patients can choose the method that meets their needs in the moment

  • Provide opportunities for more frequent support and guidance rather than intermittent calls

  • Meet both clinical and social healthcare needs
  • Form integrated, multidisciplinary clinical teams, instead of structuring teams by disease state

  • Offer a broad range of clinical programs in a single solution to support multiple chronic conditions like diabetes, COPD, asthma, and more, as well as transitional care and behavioral health

  • Address lifestyle and socioeconomic factors that are critical to improving health

  • Utilize interactive surveys to screen for social determinant needs such as transportation, financial concerns, social support, and safety

  • Deliver personalized health education tailored to social and lifestyle needs, within the context of their clinical needs, so the patient can visualize how therapeutic lifestyle changes can have a positive, direct impact on health

  • Deliver health education content at a fourth-grade reading level for broad accessibility

  •  Deliver a personalized experience to meet patients on their own terms
  • Adjust clinical programs to meet the unique needs of each patient

  • Provide daily, long-term support rather than intermittent outreach

  • Demonstrate upfront value to patients, making it easier for care managers to hold patients accountable for reaching their health goals, scheduling follow-up appointments, and closing care gaps

In today’s increasingly competitive market, health plans can differentiate themselves to keep employer business, win Medicaid contracts, and increase enrollment by demonstrating their ability to support the whole person.

But instead of leaving patients with four or more apps or multiple care teams to work with, organizations should offer health guidance in a single solution. Plans that want to provide comprehensive, whole-person support must ensure their digital health management programs can provide omnichannel engagement and meet both clinical and social healthcare needs. It should also deliver a personalized experience to meet patients on their own terms.

Jessica Schiller, RN, BSN, MAS, serves as the director of clinical programs at Wellframe (www.wellframe.com), overseeing the creation of their evidence-based portfolio of clinical programs. She focuses on improving care coordination and quality through innovative interventions and care models. Her nursing expertise spans blood cancers, bone marrow transplant care, palliative care, chronic health care management, health across the lifespan, and socioeconomic and racial disparities in care.