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Members want to hear from their health plans more regularly, survey shows

Fewer than one in five are currently receiving information on how to avoid, manage, or mitigate the effects of a costly condition.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Most healthcare consumers are "very interested" in receiving regular messages from their health plans – if those messages are highly relevant to them, and can help them stay healthier and/or save money.

That's the conclusion drawn from a new online Pollfish survey of 400 members of commercial and government- sponsored health plans, conducted on behalf of RxEOB, a company whose business is reaching consumers with personalized messaging.

IMPACT

Roughly two-thirds of respondents said they open messages from their health plans either always (40 percent, the leading answer) or most of the time. Much of that may have to do with the content of the messages, as nearly 45 percent said they receive reminders to make an appointment with their providers for a wellness checkup or immunization, and 35 percent said they're told about various services that are a part of their plan.

There's still room for improvement in the eyes of members, however, since only 18 percent said they receive suggestions to contact their providers to receive important tests such as colonoscopies or mammograms, or are proactively sent news or suggestions on how to manage their chronic condition or other health concerns.

The result is that despite the emphasis on wellness and value-based care principles, fewer than one out of five members is currently receiving information on how to avoid, manage, or mitigate the effects of a serious, costly condition.

When asked what types of messages they would like to receive, 85 percent said they want their health plans to tell them how to lower their costs for prescription medications through options such as generics or alternative therapies; the same number also wants to be notified of drug recalls based on their prescription histories.

Nearly 60 percent said they would like to receive reminders to make appointments for wellness checkups or immunizations; only 45 percent currently receive them. More than 55 percent said they would like to receive reminders about various services versus the nearly 35 percent who do; 41 percent said they would like to receive messages about scheduling regular tests, while just 18 percent said they do; and 28 percent would like to receive news or suggestions on managing their conditions, but only 18 percent currently do.

WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW

The survey also looked at the reasons members give for not opening messages from their health plans when they receive them. The majority, 44 percent, responded that they simply got too busy and forgot, and their health plans apparently never followed up. And 28 percent said the topic didn't look relevant or wasn't personalized to them.

These results point to a need for health plans to move away from generalized messages to large swaths of their member populations and toward more hyper-targeted messages that speak to specific sub-sections of a population.

One additional factor that should be taken into account is the channel used to deliver the message. Nearly 64 percent said they prefer digital communications, such as email, text or secure message. By factoring member preferences into message delivery, health plans can ensure that their member communication programs are enhancing, rather than interfering with, the relationship.

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com