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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

“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 know what to do. 

These Are Learning Moments Healthcare Can Own 

By 2030, the global corporate wellness market alone is expected to exceed $100 billion, and education is part of every solution because health leaders are recognizing that learning is required for every stage of behavior change. But in spite of all that investment, most health education is still clinical and dry. Designed to inform, not to teach. And in the digital age, those pamphlets and papers are the vestigial limbs of health educationfollowed closely by the health portal littered with YouTube videos. Can we please stop calling that an experience?

The Unhealthy State of Digital Health Engagement 

What do you do when health consumers won’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, telephonic nurse and health coaching programs come with high operational costs that highlight 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 to some of the world’s most engaging digital products.

3 Trends for Digital Health Literacy 

Captivate with Video

Video streaming services now account for half of global time spent online. Re-read that sentence. Takeaway: Well-produced video in a sequenced and distraction-free environment will hold attention.

Educate with Engaging Experts

People are taking online courses at a rate over 5X the enrollments in every college in America combined. Why? Because people want shortcuts. They want trusted sources delivering credible information in an entertaining format. Takeaway: From podcasts to online videos and courses, people show up to learn from experts with consumer appeal. 

Activate with Community and Personalized Programs

Peloton is not just a super expensive bike, it’s an expert-led, community supported experience that inspires achievement both online and in real life. Takeaway: People show up for great instructors, especially if they can make focused progress alongside others doing the same. 

How Can You Harness These Digital Health Trends?

In short, you’ll need internal talent or external partners with expertise in learning, content, and technology. At mPulse Mobile, we’ve hired top minds in each area to build a digital curriculum for physical, financial, emotional, social and career health. We’re aggressively partnering with best-selling authors, TED speakers, and leading physicians to create custom and licensable health education as engaging as streaming television. Powered by our learning software, we have growing series of holistic health content that provides a faster, more affordable path to lift health literacy and health engagement. It’s also flexible to your digital ecosystem, branding and related health programs.

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Want a closer look? Try a course now and reach out to discuss our client solutions.  Article originally published at