The Importance of Member and Patient Engagement

March 26, 2018

Pregnant couple reviewing health information as part of their provider's patient engagement program

Targeted outreach and engagement can have a significant impact on the quality of patient and health plan member care, health outcomes, informed decision making, healthcare costs, and patient/member satisfaction and scores. SPH Analytics recently hosted a Member/Patient Engagement webinar where we discussed multi-channel engagement strategies and best practices.

While “patient engagement” is a popular theme in today’s healthcare arena, few healthcare organizations have been able to fully implement effective patient and/or member outreach and engagement programs. We were able to address several good questions about member/patient engagement and offer strategies and solutions based on our experience working with healthcare organizations and managing their engagement initiatives. We received positive feedback from many of our participants and decided to share some of the information from this webinar.

What is Member/Patient Engagement?

Member and patient engagement has been defined as providers and patients working together to improve health, reduce costs, and enhance the patient experience.

Patient engagement involves more than patient portals, wearables, patient/member notifications, etc. which provide only one-directional interaction. Effective member and patient engagement is bi-directional and focuses on collaboration with the patient. It involves a holistic approach using longitudinal patient health data from social determinants, health literacy, access to care, etc.

Enhancing the Experience with Micro Patient Engagement

SPH recommends enhancing the experience and outcomes with targeted “micro patient engagement” which involves member or patient outreach in a manner that is most suited to the individual based on their condition and current needs. Micro patient engagement requires rethinking consumer engagement strategies to respond to changing expectations and behaviors, and addresses the ongoing need to improve the patient’s compliance, education, and understanding of how to maintain wellness.

Advanced engagement programs build upon each interaction to help drive enhanced outcomes such as improved HEDIS and Star ratings, increased medication adherence, improved health outcomes, and greater member/patient satisfaction.

Why is Patient Engagement Important?

Member and patient engagement play a key role in achieving the Triple Aim goals identified by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to:

  1. Improve the patient experience of care (quality and satisfaction)
  2. Improve the health of populations
  3. Reduce the cost of care

The “Voice of the Patient” and movement to place the patient at the center of healthcare has become an increasingly important focus among healthcare organizations. Healthcare is moving toward a model where engaging with patients as consumers is the first step toward improving patient education, activism, and empowerment.

Member/Patient Engagement Best Practices

SPH has worked with hundreds of healthcare organizations throughout the nation. Because of this, we are able to share some key insights and strategies for effective member/patient engagement and outreach programs.

Keep Communication Concise, Timely, and Targeted

To promote patient engagement and increase response rates, communication needs to be concise, timely, and targeted. Make sure you are targeting the right audience, at the right time, and that you have established objectives for each engagement program. These can include:

  • Warm welcome calls
  • Health risk assessments
  • Obtain information/feedback
  • Provide information/education
  • Promote preventive care
  • Identify/close care gaps
  • Disease or case management
  • Medication adherence/compliance

Consider timing of outreach and length of communication. Consumers need to be contacted in ways that are most convenient to them. It’s usually best to address one topic at a time and keep surveys and educational information brief and considerate of your member/patient’s time.

However, when possible, leverage the point of engagement to gather additional, useful information from your patient/member. Open response questions allow for very rich and insightful feedback. Speaking of insightful feedback, it’s also a good practice to plan engagement programs that allow for at least 2 to 3 weeks of outreach to obtain adequate response and feedback.

Careful planning and timing of outreach programs can produce positive results. Keep your objectives in mind and consider the preferences of your members or patients.

Segment Your Population into Similar Groups

Demographics can play an important role in determining your outreach strategy. It’s a good idea to stratify your population into similar groups for more effective outreach, and consider the best time and methods for reaching this specific group. SPH can help by providing optimal options based on our experience conducting hundreds of outreach programs each year.

Provide Education and Resources

Outreach and engagement programs are a good opportunity to educate your members or patients and provide valuable resources to promote health awareness. Preventive care and reminder calls have proven to be successful in increasing awareness and improving outcomes among members and patients. For example, outreach programs like flu shot reminders and prenatal care reminders have resulted in measurable improvements in patient compliance. Providing educations outreach also helps to build your brand as a thought leader and go-to resource.

Consider Multi-Channel Outreach

Consider multi-channel approaches for the most effective engagement and outreach programs including phone, mail, IVR, social media, and text. A multi-channel approach is likely to produce the highest contract rate and produce the most favorable results. Be aware, however, of HIPAA regulations regarding PHI when engaging via different channels. SPH’s onsite call center and mail fulfillment facility strictly adhere to HIPAA regulations. Consider multi-channel outreach, but do not share patient information and only work with reputable partners for effective member and patient engagement.

Importance of a Good Foundation

It’s important to start with a good foundation before embarking on member or patient outreach programs. Healthcare organizations with a good foundation are able to conduct effective member/patient outreach and engagement and then analyze and leverage the information received to develop key insights, implement targeted improvements, and increase performance. The ability to gather and aggregate data and deliver meaningful analytics is a critical component of successful engagement and outreach programs.

SPH’s innovative Nexus Platform gives healthcare organizations a powerful resource for collecting and analyzing data for highly meaningful use. In addition to information obtained through outreach and engagement, the Nexus Platform translates the collection of disparate customer data into precise, actionable indicators used by our customers to grow profitability while meaningfully improving the health of our customer’s individual patients and members.

Building an Effective Member or Patient Engagement Program

There are significant benefits to building targeted outreach and engagement programs. SPH recommends developing a continuous engagement program with your members or patients from the beginning to foster ongoing satisfaction and long-term loyalty. A good place to start is often with new member welcome calls for health plan members and patient satisfaction surveys for new patients. Continuously engaging the member or patient throughout their healthcare journey empowers them with the education and resources to make informed decisions, encourage compliance, and increase the likelihood of improved outcomes.

SPH can help you develop an effective engagement and outreach program based on your organization’s specific needs and objectives. We’ve worked with hundreds of healthcare organizations throughout the country to build targeted engagement programs that also provide key insights to guide quality improvement initiatives. We invite you to contact us for a free consultation to discuss the most effective engagement programs for your organization.


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