To many in the healthcare industry, it’s been frustrating to witness the slow pace of change in how health systems, provider groups, insurers and others engage with their plan members and patients.
Even as the transition to value-based care and changing payment models has moved forward, most traditional players from all segments of the industry have lagged behind in embracing significant improvement and innovation in consumer engagement. The adages of “what worked yesterday will probably work tomorrow” and “set it and forget it” have been alive and well. Even key portal chat optimization tactics and simple A/B and audience-specific testing of critical HEDIS initiatives (that help influence patients and health plan members to close their gaps in care) haven’t been widespread.
Of course, there have always been pockets of forward movement in patient and health plan member engagement. But the careful nature of healthcare, the uncertainty of the future of the Affordable Care Act and a continuous stream of changing regulations hasn’t helped the sluggish rate of change. Both payers and providers have been focused on what the immediate future might hold, especially when it comes to revenue.
Now, with the growth of Medicare Advantage plans, the mounting pressures of healthcare consumerism, the expansion of digital and mHealth options, and telehealth leading the way, we’re seeing improvement.
More providers and insurers are embracing the use of mobile messaging via smartphones for effective communications, moving past the earlier privacy concerns that have long been addressed. That includes outreach and education via one-way and two-way texting that empowers consumers to make and keep appointments and take advantage of resources available to help them improve their overall health and overall wellness. MPulse Mobile, a Carenet Health partner, reports that its platform alone is seeing more than 200 million conversations annually.
It’s also been exciting to hear more of our clients at Carenet Health asking for ways to test and truly nurture healthcare engagement innovations. Plans for continuous optimization of inbound and outbound contact strategies is a hotter topic today than ever before.
Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is picking up implementation speed—moving on from small pilot projects to large and permanent engagement tools. One recent report showed the RPM market is expected to increase at a rate of nearly 20%. We believe (and so do RPM investors it seems) that this will continue to be a huge area of growth this year.
Innovation from outside traditional healthcare is also putting additional pressure on the industry. Just one example is the launch of Amazon Care, a virtual care clinic with an option for at-home nurse visits among other benefits. Oscar Health’s digital engagement focus appears to be working. And leading-edge mHealth and AI-infused engagement start-ups are making the news every day.
With these types of new ideas in care access, delivery and engagement, conventional health plans and providers are paying attention. They’re realizing they need to move forward at a much faster pace. And as more consumers hear of what’s happening at Amazon, Walmart and others (thanks in part to social media), there will be even more pressure.
It’s not all about tech, either. Human-to-human connections are still and will always be essential in the highly personal nature of healthcare, and whether they are combined with digital apps (like Fitbit’s new coaching program) or not, the industry is taking note.
2020 will be an interesting test for the industry in terms of consumer engagement. We hope by December, we’ll be looking back on a year of substantial, breakthrough progress that’s widespread—and working.
How can we help? Please reach out if you’d like to discuss new ideas for your health plan’s member engagement or your health system’s patient engagement optimization. Along with our strategic partners, we’re moving healthcare engagement forward.
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