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How mPulse Mobile Uses Analytics to Tailor Messages and Drive Member Engagement for Healthcare

In general, people don’t like being talked at. Successful, engaging communication requires talking, listening, and analyzing. Traditionally, healthcare communication has focused on outbound messaging without the ability for a person to respond in a meaningful way. This is a one-sided relationship. mPulse set out to develop new ways for healthcare companies to interact with people and to create a true, two-way, interactive dialog. Here’s how we did it.

Two-way Dialog

To figure out how to move away from one-way messages and begin two-way, engaging conversations, we realized the key is to learn more about each person and tailor messages accordingly. Instead of sending generic messages like, “Avoid allergies – pollen levels are high – here are some tips to help,” we begin by engaging people with a message like, “Do you have any allergies?” As we learn more about each person, we find out what allergies they have, when they suffer from them, and much more valuable information. Allergies to pollen are very different from allergies to dust, mold or pets.  Now we send tailored messages that are likely to apply to individual needs and preferences rather than generic blasts.  For people that don’t have allergies, we may ask a question like, “What other health issues are you concerned about?” If they respond that they would like to quit smoking or lose weight, for example, our software is smart enough to recommend a messaging campaign around smoking or weight loss for this person. As we learn new information, we update each person’s profile to build a fuller picture of their lifestyle and health.

People Are Not Robots

What happens when a human responds to the question, “Do you have allergies?” in a less predictable way than, “Yes,” or, “no?” Can a computer program tell the difference between, “Leave me alone,” and, “Thanks so much for the reminder?” By implementing Natural Language Processing (NLP), we are able to automatically analyze the sentiment in a text response and adjust future messaging accordingly. For example, NLP knows that the person that replied, “Leave me alone,” to a message was likely expressing negative sentiment. Now we know to adjust future communication by adjusting variables like time of day, frequency of communication, tone and content of messaging to keep this person as happy and engaged as possible.

Sentiment Analysis

Through processes like NLP and deeper analysis, we are able to see trends in sentiment. These trends apply both to campaigns and people. This means we are able to understand general sentiment about campaigns and messaging. We are also able to build a sentiment profile for each person. For example, let’s use a man named Paul. Over time, Paul’s text responses carry a positive or neutral sentiment. If Paul starts responding negatively to messaging, we are likely to adjust conditions like time of day, frequency of communication, and/or tone of messaging. Or, we may trigger a poll question to get feedback from Paul so we can improve his experience. The whole goal is to identify trends in Paul’s behavior and make any adjustments required to keep him engaged.

Topic identification

Using topic identification we began to uncover themes (through co-occurrences of words) that are associated with sentiment.  For example, in a refill reminder campaign, “leave me alone” might commonly be associated with “I don’t need a refill.”  Probing further, we might realize that we need to change the timing of the refill reminder for some members because they ordered a 2-month supply instead of a 1-month supply after the previous reminder.

Automating the Process

Understanding individual needs and preferences and then delivering appropriate messaging at the right time is the key to successful dialog. We continue to automate this process so we can analyze thousands of responses, quickly determine sentiment, and find common topics and themes to keep improving each person’s experience. To refine messaging, we use A/B testing in our message campaigns to validate the impact of tailored message workflows on sentiment and engagement.  The whole goal is to provide the best healthcare communication experience for everyone.

To see what mPulse can do for your organization, request a demo.

Rena Brar Prayaga is a Behavioral Data Scientist at mPulse Mobile

In Light of Increased Litigation, Best Practices for Consumer-Focused Mobile Engagement

With mobile phone ownership skyrocketing to 94% of adults and text-message read rates at 98%, engaging healthcare consumers via mobile is no longer an option – it’s a business imperative. Yet changing regulations and increased litigation related to text messages may be giving health plans and hospitals pause to adopt mobile as a customer engagement channel. Because the latest developments with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) have caused confusion around the industry, we’ve summarized key facts as well as our (legally sound) recommendation for how to best kick off your organization’s next mobile engagement initiative. The bottom line is that healthcare related messages face considerably less restrictions under the TCPA compared to other types of messages, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently created an additional exemption for healthcare messages that may be worth pursuing for your organization.

Legally Speaking

Advances in technology over the past several decades have dramatically increased how companies reach and engage with target audiences, particularly in the mobile space. As a result of technological innovations and evolution, attributes of the TPCA have continually been challenged – mainly in class-action lawsuits – leading to a series of clarifications of the TCPA’s terms at the federal level.

Most recently, the FCC issued an order to resolve more than 20 previously contested elements of the TCPA. The order’s legality is currently under scrutiny in a case overseen by the U.S. Court of Appeals that’s expected to play out well into 2016. While the public awaits the court’s ruling, members of the healthcare community who use mobile as a consumer engagement platform should pay special attention to the TCPA’s existing allowances and restrictions on healthcare-specific information communicated via phone – through voice calls and text messages.  That is, it is important to understand the rules applicable to healthcare messages which are not being appealed and which remain effective today.

First, in 2012, the FCC mandated that companies using autodialers or prerecorded voice messages for telemarketing purposes must obtain explicit written consent from the called party before placing any such call.  The FCC, however, carved out healthcare related messages from this enhanced consent requirement.  As a result, to the extent that an individual releases his or her telephone number to a healthcare provider without limitations, autodialed and prerecorded calls and texts can be sent to the individual’s mobile number on the healthcare providers behalf in compliance with the TCPA, so long as the content of the message would be covered under the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) definition of healthcare.

In its most recent ruling last July, the FCC clarified terms surrounding consent, reiterating what’s previously been stated by the FCC: those who provide their phone number to a healthcare provider, insurance company, or other such party, in turn consent to receiving information from that party to that number.  The FCC also created an additional exemption that allows healthcare entities to send autodialed or prerecorded calls or texts to individuals regardless of whether or not the individual being contacted has released his or her telephone to the caller, so long as the communications are free of cost to the recipient, are related to an exigent medical situation and certain other conditions are met.  Accordingly, although nothing has changed with respect to the 2012 TCPA carve-out for healthcare calls, this exemption may be an option worth pursuing in situations where an entity is initiating a healthcare message on its own behalf and the patient did not release his or her telephone number to that entity.

mPulse Mobile’s Take

So what does this mean for you and your ability to actively (and legally!) engage with your organization’s audience?

As a healthcare institution, an assumed opt-in approach – one that provides consumers who have released their telephone number the choice to opt out upon initial contact – will ensure you’re TCPA-compliant and reaching the intended users in an effective manner. Say, for example, you’re part of a health plan requiring members provide their phone number upon sign up. It’s a best practice to conduct prompt outreach to the member, welcoming them and expressing the desire to regularly contact them on their cell. In that same communication, the individual should be asked to reply ‘STOP’ (at any time) if they wish not to receive additional texts.

Remember: it’s not the number of individuals that elect to remain in your database, but the level of engagement achieved.

If you’d like to learn more about how the most recent announcements surrounding the TCPA affect your mobile engagement efforts – as well as some best practices that our clients are using – we encourage you to join FierceHealthcare’s upcoming webinar, featuring mPulse Mobile and the legal experts at Arent Fox on February 17th. Register for the webinar here.

You can also check out some of our latest resources, including eBooks on mobile best practices for both healthcare providers and health plans.

mPulse Mobile Continues Growth with $10 Million in First Close of Series A Funding

Critical need for proven consumer engagement strategies in healthcare drives market demand for company’s SAAS-based mobile solutions

LOS ANGELES, CA (PRWEB) – January 12, 2016

mPulse Mobile, a mobile engagement solutions provider focused on consumer health and wellness, today announced it has secured $10 million in first close of Series A funding. HLM Venture Partners led the round while pre-series A round investors OCA Ventures, Merrick Ventures and Jumpstart Ventures also invested. This new funding will enable mPulse to enhance its analytics capabilities as the company builds upon its leadership position in making widespread consumer engagement in healthcare a reality.

mPulse Mobile helps many of the largest U.S.-based health plans, pharmaceutical companies and providers solve key industry challenges such as readmission reduction, elimination of gaps in care and better medication adherence through more effective patient/member engagement. This is accomplished through a mobile engagement platform that leverages insight-driven workflows to create a real-time interactive dialog with consumers across an enterprise, regardless of their medical condition. Innovations such as sentiment scoring, natural language processing and predictive analytics are utilized across various mobile channels to create successful use cases.

“HLM has a 30-year history of investing in innovative, market-leading technology for the healthcare industry,” said Yumin Choi, partner, HLM Venture Partners. “Healthcare consumers are connecting the dots between financial health and overall health, and wanting to be more active participants in their care. mPulse Mobile offers a unique combination of mobility, analytics and deep healthcare expertise that has proven to help healthcare providers and plans meet this growing demand.”

mPulse has been working with pioneers in digital health, including Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP), a not-for-profit, rapidly growing Medi-Cal and Medicare health plan serving over 1.1 million members in California. IEHP partnered with mPulse to enable an ongoing mobile dialog with it’s members to improve engagement and health outcomes.

“Our sole focus on healthcare combined with extensive experience delivering mobile consumer solutions makes us the ideal partner for companies who need provider, plan, pharmaceutical and population health solutions,” said Chris Nicholson, CEO, mPulse Mobile. “This additional investment will enable us to further enhance our analytics and behavioral models as we create best practices across millions of mobile touchpoints to help our clients support a two-way dialog – not a monologue – to realize truly improved outcomes.”

About mPulse Mobile

mPulse Mobile offers healthcare organizations consumer-focused mobile engagement solutions that improve member and patient engagement and create administrative efficiencies. mPulse enables the leading health plans, providers and pharmaceutical companies to improve the health and wellbeing of consumers by making health care communications relevant to the modern lifestyle.