Our team recently returned from the Health Plan Consumer Experience & Retention Summit, and I was thoroughly impressed with the core discussions and presentations at the show. As a former Director of Marketing for a major Medicare plan, it’s impressive to see how much the industry continues to morph alongside marketing and technology advancements. Here were my top takeaways from the conference:

  1. Having a Member-Centric Company Culture is Highly Encouraged. Plan members are always at the center of your efforts, but it wasn’t until now that the old adage “the customer is king” takes on a whole new meaning.  You should think about your members and their needs in everything you do. When it comes to your products, your service, messaging, or any other touchpoint along the member journey, use your knowledge of the member to craft a superior experience. When the member comes first you win.  Also, when adopting this culture, approach it from the top down; having the buy-in from the CEO is important, but having all employees on board with delivering this winning company culture approach goes a long way.
  2. Personalization is a Must. Potential and current members are savvy, and if you don’t immediately offer the correct solution to meet their needs, they will look elsewhere. For example, take the experience of a colon screening – Susan doesn’t have the time for it and Ken is scared of the experience. The messaging that you present to each of them needs to be personalized and different to impact these members. If your initial messaging didn’t entice or speak to one of these members, then they will look elsewhere for the option that speaks directly to them and appears to be exactly what they are looking for.  A quote that stuck with me from the conference was, “Members no longer simply appreciate personalization, it’s EXPECTED.”
  3. Healthcare can be a Confusing Place. Healthcare is really a culture of its own with plenty of acronyms and terminology that can throw anyone for a loop. When creating your messaging, try to humanize the experience, make it less cold, and try to simplify the process. Maybe even consider a Medicare cheat sheet as an option to help teach individuals into understanding their benefit options. Also, consider revamping your website and offer clean navigation to help members find their answers quicker. The key is to put your messaging focus onto the members’ needs and think about presenting the information in a way that reaches them at their level.
  4. Data, Data, and More Data. The best practice is to use different types of data sources, such as member preferences, clinical data, and non-healthcare data to better understand your members. Always ask yourself the question – how are you applying the information that you have gathered? For example, if a large percentage of survey respondents stated they are dissatisfied with their doctor, and you follow up shortly after with messaging encouraging them to “go to your doctor for the flu shot,” then you have missed the mark. Instead, you should follow up with messaging about considering a change in doctors. Your members are sharing with you all sorts of data, but you must use the data they are providing you to actually connect and assist them where they need you.