Several months ago, Nuance commissioned a survey of American health consumers to learn about the most effective ways health plans and providers can reach and engage them. The results made it clear that health consumers want proactive outreach from their health plans. And, for those with chronic conditions, the need is even greater.
Our research demonstrated a strong need among chronic members for health plans that will take a more active role in keeping them healthy. For instance, the research shows that chronic members are suffering from what we call “digital amnesia.”
As consumers rely more and more on technology to keep track of everything from birthdays to when to get an oil change, proactive reminders are becoming the mandate for keeping consumers on track. In fact, nearly half of health plan members with a chronic disease admit they forget recommended screenings or labs (e.g., diabetic eye exams or A1c3 tests) without a reminder, 26 percent forget to take their medication and 66 percent forget to attend either recommended provider or health coach appointments. Those numbers demonstrate a significant potential effect on members’ health and payers’ resulting costs.
Those with chronic disease want to follow the guidance of their health coaches, nurses and doctors, though. Forty-six percent of those surveyed would like a reminder for those recommended screenings and tests – and 38 percent want medication reminders. Help them help themselves.
The good news is that the payer executives are headed in that direction. The top two applications that those executives said they’re implementing are for chronic program enrollment and confirmation of provider appointments or upcoming screenings. And, 100 percent of the executives surveyed said they’re likely to expand their use of automation and self-service in their population health efforts this year. This kind of innovation has now become a real requirement if you’re competing in the health plan and/or population health market.
What kind of self-service and automation?
We asked health plan executives about automation and self-service in the context of technologies that manage member interactions across channels – both when members contact their health plans through the phone, web and mobile and when the health plans proactively reach out to consumers through voice, SMS and email. This points to a real opportunity for health plans to leverage new technology innovations like virtual assistants and conversational IVRs to deliver a better member experience.
For example, there is also an opportunity for health plans to leverage the smartphone to provide an immersive, self-service experience to health consumers with chronic conditions. When asked if they would be likely to download a “mobile chronic disease coach” application if it was available today, more than half (51 percent) of health consumers surveyed say they are likely to download the application. Top features they want in such an app includes:
- Access to health information by a care manager, coach or nurse (51%)
- A virtual assistant that answers questions (46%)
- Synchronization with their health record (45%)
- Ability to communicate with a health coach (42%)
- Text or push notification reminders about key tests or screenings (33%)
When it comes to engaging members with chronic diseases, the key takeaways are that a) these consumers both need and want to be reminded about how to stay healthy, b) you need to be prepared to use a variety of “channels” to engage them, and c) your competitors are doing this – or are planning to — so don’t get left behind!