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Thomas Pham from Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) Shares his Insights on Engaging a Growing and Hard-to-Reach Medicaid Population

At the recent Health 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, CA, mPulse Mobile and our customer, Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP), were invited to speak on a panel sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation titled “Medicaid as a market: Bringing innovative solutions to the safety net. It was a standing-room-only session. Thomas was nice enough to share the insights he presented through a guest blog. Thank you Thomas!

As IEHP’s Sr. Director of Marketing and Product Management, I am always thinking of how we can better serve our growing and diverse customer base. With the ACA, our population has nearly doubled in the past three to four years. That has led to a significant demographic change. Our population is now 50% adults and 50% children. We also experienced an increase in our male and young adult population. With this growth and demographic shift, I recognized that our communication strategy and messages needed to change.

We were looking for an innovative solution that would help us target the right information to each consumer demographic in real time. To achieve this goal, we issued a RFP seeking a vendor with ability to support us as we develop and define our new communications strategy. We looked at many vendors and chose mPulse Mobile to provide us with a comprehensive text message solution. We were among the first Medicaid plans to use text messaging as a way to engage our members, so choosing a company that has the experience and expertise to partner with was important to us.

To start, we collected all the member phone numbers in our database. mPulse analyzed them and found that 70% of the numbers provided were, in fact, cell phone numbers. That meant we could reach 70% of our population with text messages.

We sent a welcome message to these members, introducing our text message program. Less than 2% opted out, so we knew there was clear interest in text messaging as a communication channel for our members.

mPulse introduced the concept of “crawl-walk-run” for our engagement strategy. It made sense that we would need to crawl first with this new digital engagement approach, as well as get our members used to the program. My team also needed to get comfortable with the platform and how to engage our members via text. As we experienced low opt-out rate and high engagement rates from our members, we were ready for the next phase: walk.

In the walk phase, we started bi-directional communication. We asked questions like: How would you rate your health? Would you like to participate in a health challenge? This strategy allowed us to listen to our members and provide them with helpful information that activated them based on their personal health needs.

Next, we will begin our run phase in 2017. In this phase, we want to focus on gaps in care. We also look forward to deepening our tailored, contextually-relevant engagement with our members via text. The more knowledgeable and connected they feel, the more activated they become about their health. As individuals become more activated, we see the impact across the population as a whole.

Overall, our partnership with mPulse Mobile to deliver a highly-effective mobile engagement solution has improved member knowledge and use of our services, leading to better health outcomes. We are excited to continue this innovative approach to member engagement.


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