5 Things Health Plan Leaders Should Prioritize In 2022

One year ago, the start of 2021 offered so much promise to the healthcare industry – vaccines, reduced hospitalizations, increased telehealth, and the prospect of “getting back to normal.” As we march into 2022 and pandemic year three, the only certainty facing health plan leaders is continued uncertainty. Needless to say, the stakes are higher than ever as consumers, providers and payers face continued disruption, burnout and frustration brought on by COVID-19.

Despite this shaky ground, many enterprises are finding ways to weather the storm, and even thrive, with a heightened focus on the customer experience (which drives customer satisfaction and retention) and the data solutions required to improve it. The pandemic has underscored countless communications gaps across healthcare delivery models and systems. Consequently, the ability to embrace tools that enhance member-payer interactions and, ultimately, health outcomes, will be a key requirement for success.

2022 Areas of Focus

If your strategic plans include efforts around customer communications management (CCM) and customer experience, you’re already on the right track. Here, we’ll highlight key CCM priorities that need to be addressed this year – and the years to come.

1. Elevate Customer Insights

Data is gold in healthcare – and virtually every industry. But with an infinite amount at hand, interpreting it and putting analytics to use in positive ways proves to be an ever-present challenge.

Fortunately, the rise of O’Neil’s turnkey SaaS platform has opened the door to exciting possibilities, especially when it comes to gaining a complete 360° view of customers. This perspective captures everything from demographics (i.e. age, gender, location, marital status, occupation, etc.) to personal health, psychological and socioeconomic factors. Layered together, these insights fuel better and more meaningful communications at every stage of the customer lifecycle.

If your current analytics tools or platforms aren’t digging deep enough or yielding a sophisticated understanding of your customers, it may be time for a change. According to a 2021 Aspire whitepaper, a key requirement for success is the ability to shift from legacy systems, transitioning to those that empower bi-directional and omni-channel interactions based on customers’ needs.

2. Channel into Omni-Channel

Speaking of omni-channel interactions, health plan leaders have turned to multiple coordinated marketing vehicles to engage customers. This doesn’t mean bombarding them with messaging across every channel at your disposal. It means using your data to understand 1.) where are they looking AND 2.) when are they looking before you push a message. It also requires a cohesive brand and strategy across all touchpoints.

This approach is gaining more prominence, especially as payers zero in on opportunities to increase member satisfaction and retention, which has scored low in recent years. Health plan members desire customer-centric care and communication. Achieving this requires payers to not only tap into their own marketing channels but synchronize efforts with employers and healthcare providers. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s demonstrated the need to eliminate the antiquated silos that exist in healthcare – between payers, employers and health systems – to establish trust and guide customers toward life-impacting health benefits.

3.  Recognize Social Determinants of Health

The pandemic has also shined a light on the many broken elements of our healthcare system. A major priority for payers and providers alike needs to be Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) and the healthcare inequities that exist across underserved populations. Many recent studies show the unfortunate disparity of racial and ethnic mortality rates brought on by COVID-19.

Again, this is where data lends a positive influence. O’Neil’s ONEsuite Solution allows you to glean customer information related to education, economic stability, social and community context, neighborhood, housing environment and more. Armed with these insights, payers can deliver more personalized, empathetic communications that mitigate fears and uncertainty among audiences who feel ignored or left behind. If they believe that you have their best interests at heart, they’re more likely to take advantage of life-improving benefits.

4. Heed Customer Control

A byproduct of the digital age and having information at our fingertips, customers want clear, consistent information from payers and they want it NOW. The demand for “right person, right time, right place and right context” messaging will only accelerate, especially as other industries fine-tune their own omni-channel strategies and increase transparency around costs, billing, etc.

Customers are in the driver’s seat. They no longer have patience for impersonal messaging and misfires, nor do they want to sit on hold with customer service for 20-30 minutes while they await essential benefits information. There’s competition everywhere, from Amazon, retailers, other health systems, etc. Going forward, payers must utilize data to deliver integrated communications centered around current and prospective customers’ needs.

5. Adopt a Data-First Culture

Aspire’s research demonstrates that organizations will increase profitability by 41% if they focus on creating data-driven, cross-channel, and device-agnostic communications at every touchpoint. There’s no doubt about it – today’s most successful payers are upping their CCM game for the sake of their businesses and their customers’ health. And the journey toward achieving these gains starts on the inside, with a willingness to transform technology – and your mindset.

Whether they’re adopting new CCM platforms themselves or relying on a third-party managed service, they’re also creating internal job roles around data, analytics and customer experience.

These internal employees not only analyze data inputs, but they advise marketing leaders how to optimize communications based on customers’ previous experiences. Most importantly, they work hand-in-hand with all customer-facing business units – from care management and customer service to provider relations and billing – to ensure interactions are coordinated across multiple channels.

The New “Normal”

While getting back to normal isn’t in the cards anymore, current circumstances give you an opportunity to shift from outdated, one-directional member communications to modern interactions that deliver tangible business results. As the leader in Customer Communications Management (CCM), our team can advise you on digital solutions that align with your organization’s 2022 objectives.

Contact us for a free 15-minute consult or to preview our ONEsuite CCM platform.