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Shifting the Mindset: How Health Plans Can View Members as Consumers in a Digital-First World

What can health plans learn from the retail industry’s success with consumer engagement?  

A lot, it turns out. Leading retail organizations have been using important digital-first principles for a couple of decades now. This approach has not only transformed the expectations of everyday consumers for all organizations they encounter (including healthcare) but has also driven profits through the roof for these companies.  

Take a moment to think about it. When you sign into Amazon, everything you experience as an end user is seamless and customized. From the presentation of personalized recommendations on your homepage (which is different for every customer) to the fast and easy delivery of your items. It’s all frictionless and crafted for the consumer. 

Where does this leave healthcare? Well, even though health plans are not direct competitors of Amazon (or even in the same industry), their members live in an Amazon world and now have expectations set for this kind of consumer experience across all areas of their lives – food delivery, online retail, and yes, healthcare. The challenge for healthcare organizations now becomes leveling up to those expectations and harnessing these digital-first principles to improve their members’ experiences and inspire healthy behaviors. 

From Members to Consumers: How plans are adopting popular digital trends from leading consumer brands to drive better health outcomes » 

The first step toward that goal is understanding that members are no longer just members. They have become fully-fledged consumers of healthcare services and treating them as such is a critical way for plans to be competitive in a digital-first world. 

Beyond the Consumer Mindset: Implementing a Digital-First Experience 

Simply shifting your view of your members to consumers, however, is not enough. There are significant foundational and technological changes that must be implemented to truly realize this concept and transform the experience. 

  • Using Data to Customize the User Experience – Without data, customizing the experience in this way is impossible. Plans have more data at their disposal than you might think, though. From claims data and satisfaction surveys to engagement data from previous communications programs, it can all be leveraged to customize the experience. This results in tailored tools and resources at every point across their unique journey.  
  • Streaming Health Content – 5% of all Google searches are for health information. That is a lot of people turning to the internet for health education instead of their plan or provider. That also highlights the fact that health literacy is a prevalent issue and a contributing factor to inaction among members. Plans are in a unique position to increase health literacy by providing health education to their consumers with commercial quality streaming health content to sustain engagement, deliver the information that consumer needs at that point in time, and ultimately drive healthier actions at scale. 
  • An Omnichannel Approach – Combining an omnichannel approach with orchestration of resources and channels helps plans reach members in the way they prefer while allowing plan investments to perform with higher results and efficacy. Using a combination of 1 on 1 care coordination, interactive voice response (IVR), mobile web, resource triaging through AI short message service (SMS), multimedia message service (MMS) and rich communication services (RCS) channels are a few examples of digital ways to engage and activate more consumers. 
  • Behavior Science and Conversational AI – Behavior science is a foundational tool for large tech companies to drive specific behaviors in their consumers and ignite growth. It’s healthcare’s time now to take from those lessons and apply them to the health of their members. Health programs and services that seek to understand the intricacies of human behavior and leverage these techniques will significantly increase engagement. 

Want the full version of this content? Access the complete white paper, From Members to Consumers » 

The Members to Consumers White Paper 

By implementing digital trends that drive engagement in the retail landscape, health plans can replicate this success for their population. Leading brands have had to continually stay aligned to trends and keep a high-touch strategy in place to drive sales. Health organizations are in a unique position to leverage consumer insights to refine their strategy, inspire consumers to take action, and lower costs, because unlike Apple or Amazon, health is a necessity. Ensuring your health consumers continually have a positive experience and adopt healthier behaviors based on their individual health needs is critical to drive health outcomes.  

This article gives just a peek into the ways health plans can serve that experience to their members. To get the full version of this content, including case studies from plans who have implemented digital-first techniques, download the white paper, From Members to Consumers: How plans are adopting popular digital trends from leading consumer brands to drive better health outcomes.

The Future of Health Literacy

In a world where health information is abundant yet often complex, understanding how to improve health literacy is crucial. Health literacy is more than just the ability to read medical pamphlets; it’s about understanding and utilizing health information to make informed decisions and follow treatment plans effectively. The importance of health literacy cannot be overstated, especially considering its impact on healthcare outcomes and costs in the US.

The Health Action Council aptly notes, “Health literacy is key to lowering healthcare costs, and better education is the key to health literacy.” This statement highlights the need to promote health literacy at every opportunity. From Googling symptoms before a doctor’s appointment to discussing healthcare decisions with trusted individuals, every interaction is a potential learning moment that healthcare providers can own and enhance.

Yet, despite recognizing the importance of health literacy in the US, many educational efforts remain dry and clinical, failing to engage modern health consumers effectively. With the rapid growth of the digital health engagement market, there is an urgent need for innovative strategies that captivate, educate, and activate health consumers through trending digital mediums.

Our article will explore three key digital health trends — captivating video content, engaging experts, and personalized community programs — and discuss how healthcare organizations can harness these trends to significantly improve health literacy. Join us in redefining health education and engagement in the digital era with mPulse Mobile’s cutting-edge approach.

What is health literacy?

Health literacy involves acquiring, understanding, and applying health information, enabling you to effectively make well-informed health decisions and adhere to treatment guidelines.

“Health literacy is key to lowering healthcare costs, and better education is the key to health literacy.” – Health Action Council.

You’re heading to the doctor. It’s time for that exam. You Google for quick answers before heading to your appointment. You see the doctor. They hand you a pamphlet and a few sheets of paper that you shove into a bag. When you get home, you text that person you trust. No, they didn’t go to medical school, but they always knew what to do.

Seizing learning moments to improve health literacy

By the year 2030, predictions indicate that the global corporate wellness market will surpass $100 billion, emphasizing the critical role of education in every health solution. Health leaders increasingly acknowledge that effective learning is essential at each step of behavioral change, particularly in addressing low health literacy. Despite significant investments, much of the current health education remains overly clinical and unengaging, aiming to inform rather than truly teach.

Traditional pamphlets, papers, and cluttered health portals filled with YouTube videos fall short of providing a real educational experience in this digital era. This presents a unique opportunity for healthcare to re-evaluate and revamp its approach to improving health literacy, moving away from outdated methods and towards more dynamic, engaging educational strategies.

The unhealthy state of digital health engagement

What do you do when health consumers don’t pay attention? If you’re most wellness programs, you hand out costly incentives in exchange for healthy actions (ex, $300 bucks to complete your annual physical). Meanwhile, telephone nursing and health coaching programs have high operational costs, highlighting the need for better self-directed options.

Because today’s health consumers want to get smart on their terms (and if we want them to learn to make smarter health decisions), we have to meet them where they are.

So how do we do that? How do we teach and guide them to the knowledge and progress they seek? To answer that, let’s look at some of the world’s most engaging digital products.

Embracing digital trends to improve health literacy in the US

Understanding the importance of health literacy is crucial in today’s healthcare landscape, especially in the US, where enhancing health literacy can lead to better health outcomes.

Here are three key digital trends that are transforming how to improve and promote health literacy:

1. Captivating with Video:

With video streaming services accounting for half of the global online time, it’s clear that well-produced videos in a structured, distraction-free environment are pivotal in holding viewers’ attention. This trend underscores the potential of video content to boost health literacy.

2. Educating with Engaging Experts:

The surge in online course enrollments – over five times that of total college enrollments in America – highlights a growing preference for learning from credible, entertaining sources. By leveraging podcasts, online videos, and courses led by appealing experts, healthcare providers can effectively educate and engage their audience.

Takeaway: From podcasts to online videos and courses, people show up to learn from experts with consumer appeal.

3. Activating with Community and Personalized Programs:

Programs like Peloton demonstrate the power of expert-led, community-supported experiences in inspiring real-life achievements. This trend reveals the value of communal learning and personalized programs in fostering health literacy.

By tapping into these digital trends, healthcare providers in the US can revolutionize their approach to health literacy, making it more engaging, accessible, and effective for their consumers.

How can you use these digital health trends to promote health literacy?

To effectively harness digital health trends and improve health literacy, the key lies in combining expertise in learning, content creation, and technology.

At mPulse Mobile, we’ve assembled an elite team of professionals in these domains to develop a comprehensive digital curriculum encompassing physical, financial, emotional, social, and career health. By developing strong partnerships with best-selling authors, TED speakers, and renowned physicians, we create custom and licensable health education content that rivals the engagement level of streaming television. 

Our advanced learning software supports a growing library of holistic health content, offering a quicker, more cost-effective route to enhance health literacy and engagement. This approach is designed to integrate seamlessly with your existing digital ecosystem, aligning with your brand and broader health programs and providing an innovative solution to improving health literacy.

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