About This Blog

 

Sherri Dorfman, CEO, Stepping Stone Partners

Connected & Digital Health Innovation Specialist

My blog is designed to spotlight healthcare organizations with innovative uses of technology & data to drive Care Coordination, Collaboration & Patient Engagement.

These new approaches may influence your product & service roadmap, partnership and marketing strategies.

My Expertise: 

Over 18 years ago, I moved my focus from consumer-centric technologies in other industries (i.e. financial services, retail) to healthcare technology.  

While consulting, I leverage my extensive experience, knowledge and professional network to help companies make the right strategic product and marketing decisions. Services include: 

> Strategic Planning Market Review: Competitive Assessments, Partnership Evaluations. Workshop facilitation. Insight drives product, partnership and marketing strategies 

> Product Roadmap Planning: Product conceptualization, definition and validation through Marketing Research. Work Sessions for product suite planning with solutions from mergers, acquisitions, partnerships and purchases

> Strategic Product Marketing: Differentiated value proposition story incorporated into marketing & sales assets

Find out how I can help you. Call me at 508-655-6585. Email me at SDorfman@Stepping-Stone.net to set up an exploratory discussion. 

Follow me on Twitter @SherriDorfman

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    Entries in consumer engagement evaluation (5)

    UnitedHealthcare Rewards Medicaid Moms for Healthy Behaviors; Baby Blocks & Community Rewards Programs

    Baby Blocks Rewards
    UnitedHealthcare has a track record of leveraging technologies to engage their members in their health through their OptimizeMe and Health4Me mobile initiatives. In addition to these broad based offerings, UnitedHealthcare has launched two programs targeting Medicaid moms, rewarding them for healthy choices throughout pregnancy and with their children. 

    “Over 40% of U.S. births are to women on Medicaid. We wanted to use technology to empower these women to improve access to appointment information and provide incentives to motivate them to stay engaged”, explains Brett Edelson, VP, Product Strategy & Management, UnitedHealthcare Community & State (Medicaid). “We specially developed the Baby Blocks program to ensure that babies have a healthy start to life.”

    "More and more Medicaid programs are looking to financial incentives to encourage Medicaid recipients to complete preventive screenings. These financial incentives have proven effective in the short term but longitudinal studies of other such programs show decreasing effectiveness over time. We created Community Rewards to build a relationship with the member beyond simply rewarding individual actions but encouraged life-long habits", describes Andrew Mackenzie, Chief Marketing Officer, UnitedHealthcare Community & State.

    Although these programs target different life stages, both are designed to define a healthy path which informs and incentivizes the member to complete healthy actions over time. This creates awareness for these behaviors and reinforces them with rewards. “Our research shows that these moms feel more connected to the program when they earn points and then pick out an award because it creates an emotional bond. We decided to structure our program this way instead of just rewarding with money,” explains Mackenzie. “Unlike many other wellness programs which give gift cards to patients for going to appointments, we’ve decided to design our programs for ongoing engagement with cumulative points and continuous education.” 

    The initial awareness and invitation for each program is through a direct mailing which explains how the program works and encourages them to enroll using their computer or smart phone. Additionally, Baby Blocks engages members through Ob/Gyn offices and outreach calls.

    Baby Blocks Program

    “The idea for Baby Blocks came from our focus groups with pregnant women who were overwhelmed with the 20+ doctor appointments they needed to keep track of during their pregnancy and the first 15 months of their baby’s life. We thought about our communication channels to support this group when one teen said ‘I never read my mail but I sleep with my cell phone’ ”, Edelson explains. 

    The Baby Blocks Program guides the expectant mother throughout her pregnancy, providing educational information and reminders for essential doctor visits pre and post-delivery. On the program website, the expectant mom sees pregnancy milestones with the number of weeks (i.e. 24 weeks, 28 weeks, 30 weeks, etc) on a baby block and can unlock the educational information as well as track her doctor appointments. She actually earns rewards from enrollment through her baby’s 15 month post pregnancy wellness visit. 

    Throughout her pregnancy, she sees health tips on her computer or mobile phone, for example: “It can be hard to wait for your baby to be born. It’s best to give birth after at least 39 weeks.  Your baby’s brain and lungs are still growing!” After birth, mom receives tips such as “Place your baby on its back to sleep. Don’t put a pillow in the crib until baby is over one year old. Ask your doctor about the shots your baby needs to prevent serious illness.”

    “When we were developing this program for the Medicaid audience, we expected most moms would use their smart phones to access the Baby Blocks website based on consumer research. Currently, about 40% of all visits to the Baby Blocks website are from smart phones", shares Edelson.

    UnitedHealthcare continues to hear very positive feedback from the program participants: 

    No matter how many children you have, you can learn something new; each child is different and each pregnancy is different.
    Expectant mom actively using Baby Blocks program during her second pregnancy

    Life is so hectic with a 4 month old and a 3 year old. I like that the Baby Blocks program is so easy to use and I love the incentives that they offer. I have already picked out new books and toys for Athena 

    Since the initial launch November 2011, the Baby Blocks program has enrolled 3,000+ members in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. The program expanded into additional states October 2012 (AZ, FL, TN, MI) increasing the program reach to new and expectant moms dependent on Medicaid from 12,000 to 50,000.

    “We were excited to see over a 30% response rate across all markets. Our program results to date have been strong with 10,000+ doctor appointments recorded and over 1,500 births to Baby Blocks participants, representing a 63% member engagement rate through baby’s birth”, explains Edelson. “We are working on motivating the mother to get her post pregnancy care which typically falls off since she is focused on the care for her baby. We’ve heard some mothers say that with previous pregnancies they only attended some of their prenatal appointments but with Baby Blocks, they are attending more of them”. 

    Community Rewards Program

    Community Rewards is designed to educate and motivate a group of consumers with similar health needs. For their first pilot in August 2012, UnitedHealthcare selected Medicaid moms, incentivizing them to follow healthy habits with their children under 13 years old, such as eating a healthy breakfast, getting 8-10 hours of sleep or simply washing their hands. On the program website, mom can see the checkups and vaccine reward opportunities, learn what to expect at each appointment and can track where (i.e. doctor’s office or clinic) and when this was done. This tracking is especially important for this patient segment who may need another option outside of their doctor’s office to get vaccines. 

    The program also rewards moms for “Knowing their Health Plan” (i.e. listening to a welcome call, reading newsletters and speaking with the Nurseline). Community Rewards “households” the points so mom can shop with the accumulated points that she and her child(ren) have earned. 

    “We have received encouraging results to date. Typically with incentive programs, 15% are engaged after 6 months. We are seeing double that, 30% sustained engagement”, explains Mackenzie. Here is a comment from a program participant: 

    Dear UHC Community Rewards, I want to say that I am appreciative of this program and the incentive it provides to make sure my child is consistent with healthy habits. 

    “As we review program participation metrics, one big surprise for us is that 30% of the moms enrolled in the program were not invited. Through word of mouth, moms came to our Community Rewards program website and joined which shows us the tremendous value of talk for referrals”, emphasizes Mackenzie.
                 
    Expanding Engagement with Rewards Programs
                   
    UnitedHealthcare is evaluating potential ways to enhance both programs to reach and motivate members to engage in healthy behaviors on an ongoing basis. 

    “The Baby Blocks Program will be rolled out to more states this year. We’re also considering extending the program to include well baby visits through age two”, Edelson shares. 

    “For Community Rewards, we see an opportunity to extend the program on the social front where moms can post their accomplishments to friends and family on Facebook. On the health side, we are considering ways to customize our Community Rewards Program to support high risk populations such as patients with diabetes or asthma”, explains Mackenzie. “By educating and reminding them about what they need to do every day and providing an easy way for them to use our resources as support, we believe that we can see better outcomes.” 

    Engagement Opportunities
                   
    Healthcare Technology and Health Plans are quickly learning about the benefits of creating “programs” to drive technology platform usage. 

    Based on my review of UnitedHealthcare’s Baby Blocks & Community Rewards Programs, I see two key engagement drivers:  

    Segment Specific: UnitedHealthcare has packaged educational content, health actions and incentives that are tailored to the needs of their target consumer segments. They’ve designed Community Rewards to address a set of consumers with similar needs, which gives them many opportunities to extend this motivational program to other segments of members. 

    Health Rewards Program:  Although many rewards programs are focused on wellness, UnitedHealthcare is working on developing a program to support self-management and care management with incentives for engagement. Their approach will proactively lay out the care path instead of reactively delivering one off ‘gaps in care’ communications. Could this be the next frontier in population management? 

    Patients Engage with Data & Tools for Better Health Decisions and Health Management @ Partners' Connected Health Symposium

    During the 9th Annual Partners’ Connected Health Symposium, several speakers shared examples about how consumers are taking responsibility for their health by using online and mobile tools. Given the changes in health reform, Providers and Payers welcome patients taking on a more active role in both monitoring and managing their health.

     1. Trackers for Self Management: 

    Susannah Fox presented findings from the latest research by the Pew Internet Project and the California HealthCare Foundation which focused on self-tracking. One interesting insight is the segment of adults who track a “health indicator or symptom”; “62% of adults living with two or more chronic conditions is self- tracking”.

    The research also revealed that only one third of all self trackers shared this information with someone and half of those shared with a clinician and the other half with a member of the family, group or a friend.

    2.  PHR with Mobile Capture of Observations of Daily Living (ODL):

    Patricia Flatley Brennan, Professor, School of Nursing, University of Wisconsin, discussed the insights that can be gained by “listening in the moment”.  Patricia provided an overview of the Project HealthDesign’s five projects for this second round. I was particularly interested as she described how these projects capture the “words of the patient” about their observations of daily living.

    Imagine the tremendous value in sharing the patient’s words not only to help the clinician communicate in a way that resonates with the patient but also to discuss the observation data patterns and their impact on the patient’s live.

    After the conference, I reviewed the projects on the Project HealthDesign website to get a better understanding about the tools that were being used by patients. Several projects entail having the person enter the observations into their mobile phone; symptoms for Asthma, pain and energy levels for Crohn’s disease, caregiver stress for high risk babies and moods for Obesity. For the project focused on elders, I was interested to see sensors being used to collect information to monitor their cognitive decline.  

    3. Online Patient Communities

    Right from the beginning, I knew this panel was designed to be provocative- “Online Patient Communities are an effective way to Deliver Care”. Alex Drane, moderator and CVO at Eliza explained the panel's focus on peer to peer patient communities without clinicians. 

    Shouldn’t this panel really have been titled “Online Patient Communities are an effective way to ‘support’ care”? So much has been written about the strong value that patients receive sharing their experiences.

    Taking patient communities to the next level, it would be interesting to consider how one type of patient community differs from another.  Is there the same intensity of involvement for different types of conditions? Do patients participant in them mostly when they are diagnosed or do they stay on to give back? Are patients using the tracking tools and sharing with others in the community? Are there examples where clinicians are successfully participating in these patient communities?

    Opportunities to Empower Patients with Data & Tools

    Healthcare organizations have any opportunity to provide data and tools as resources to support consumer health management. Here are some areas that I am closely watching.

    Connecting the Data Dots on Health: As a patient gathers information from the various tracking tools, how can this information be combined with other data about him to provide a more comprehensive picture to guide their collaborative care decisions? As Joseph Coughlin, Director MIT Age Lab asked during his Symposium keynote “Data, data everywhere but where are the drops of actionable knowledge?”

    Interjecting Data into the Discussion: When can the patient discuss this information with their care team and get the needed guidance for behavior change? How can this information be incorporated in to a coaching session as the patient discusses the management of her chronic condition? During an intervention, how can this information support the decision discussion?

    Measuring the Impact of the Tools: Each organization will need to think about measuring the elements that make the tool actionable. During her keynote on “e” is for Engagement, Susannah Fox shared a few key measures that they captured for the self trackers including the percent that said their data collection “affected a health decision”,  led them to “ask a doctor new question or seek a second opinion” and “changed their overall approach to health”. 

    As organizations continue to evolve their business models and approaches, these data and tools become more important because they effectively engage patients in their own health. In recent discussions with leading organizations, I have heard about their increasing investments in connecting data and tools to bring more insight to the patient to better manage their health with the support of their care team. What is your organization doing to provide truly engaging online and mobile resources for your patients?

    Independence Blue Cross Leverages Connected Mobile Health to Drive Employee Engagement

    Healthrageous! engagement platform
    Independence Blue Cross is moving quickly with their mobile connected health initiatives. Last fall, Independence partnered with Healthrageous to run a pilot with their own employees before expanding the program to their plan members. Now, Independence is rolling out the mobile connected health program to plan members. 

    During the initial six month pilot, 677 Independence employees were invited to join the pilot and 270 employees or about 40% participated in the pilot. Each employee received an email describing the “Walk the Talk” Wellness Challenge. The email was from the head of the division personally inviting their employee to participate, along with a teaser and information about the program. 

    “By participating in this challenge, you’ll get a sneak preview of Healthrageous, which we may offer to our customers in the future. Healthrageous makes it easy to view your progress and has interactive features to keep you motivated. It will help you set personal wellness goals, monitor your weight and blood pressure, and log your activity so that you’ll know you’re staying on target.”

    Employees signed up for the program to improve their health and received educational messages delivered through the portal, email communications and mobile texts. Employees were offered a pedometer and a blood pressure cuff as tools to manage their health.  Independence also placed kiosks, two in the headquarters and one in two different satellite offices to enable employees to access program information and upload their activity and health information. 

    “At Independence, we don’t just say we care about health and wellness — we walk the talk.  The Healthrageous! platform is a fun way to set personal wellness goals and take simple steps toward better health. It easy to track progress and has fun, interactive features to keep associates motivated", explains Kim Eberach, Vice President of Wellness & Community Health, Independence Blue Cross. 

    Positive Pilot Results With Healthrageous Program 
    Independence has taken an in-depth look at the pilot results gained from both employee participation and engagement. 

    “We have been able to sustain high engagement rates throughout the duration of the program and have seen many users make changes in their daily behaviors.  Blood pressure rates are on a steady decline and activity is still up five months into the program.  We’ve seen the most engagement from individuals who identified themselves as having one or more chronic conditions,”  explains Mike Yetter, Director of eBusiness at Independence.

    At the end of the pilot, Independence conducted research with the employee participants. Here are some of their comments:
    “It is keeping me so motivated to be healthy and aware of my physical activities, weight and blood pressure.”
    “The BEST part of this is the automatic recording of results.  Most people don't have time to add more things to their schedule, so not having to worry about going onto a website and logging in results is amazing.”
    “Seeing the numbers on a daily basis is helpful.” 
    “I truly feel this program has had a positive impact on focusing on my health. The program made me accountable to myself on keeping track of exercise, blood pressure and weight.”
    “Walk the Talk has challenged me to get moving! I love it.  It's like having a real personal trainer, gently pushing you to do the right things; like drink more water, put the salt shaker down, get enough sleep each night, but also to have fun/unwind for at least 30 minutes per night.  These are all things we know to do.” 
    “Once I got on track with the amount of steps I wanted to take every day, my main use for this has been weight management and seeing my weight gain/loss in front of my eyes.  It has been a source of great encouragement to visually see my weight decrease...  I can't fool myself with how much I think I weigh, it is all right there on the website.”

    In addition to their marketing research, Independence is evaluating the program based on metrics and observations about how the features are being used:

    Program Usage: Employees were much more likely at least once to log in (90.0%) or upload steps (88.5%) than upload weight (63.0%) or a blood pressure reading (62.6%) 

    Continuous Effort: On an going basis, the percentage of employees that logged in or logged their steps (including automated upload) was significantly higher than those employees who entered their weight or blood pressure.  

    Within the first two months of the pilot, overall engagement remained above 60%. 
     
    Increased Activity: Approximately 20% of the program participants improved, increasing their step count by 2k step per day more than their baseline readings. 

    Social Community Usage: Within the Healthrageous platform, participants have the option of specifying who sees their messages to their coworkers. 

    Several employees have decided to nudge their colleagues to get them motivated for change:
    “You are kidding me…. Less than 5k steps today?!”
    “Looks like you are crushing me on steps this week”
    “I don’t see any scale readings.  Too much partying?”
    “Wow!  You have really kept up your activity. Nice job even with all the travel!!”

    If you think back to the start of the year, my colleague Lynne A. Dunbrack from IDC Health Insights outlined the top 10 top predictions in the Healthcare IT Landscape for 2012  which included “Health and Wellness Programs Will Become Social and Mobile to Engage Consumers”.  This direction has certainly contributed to the success of Independence’s Healthrageous program. 

    Factors Driving Employee Engagement
    As I reviewed Independence’s Healthrageous program in detail, I identified five key factors that are driving employee engagement. In order to share these factors within context,  I will describe their value for an employee named Debbie who has Diabetes and is overweight. 

    1. Personalized Approach.  When signing up for the program, Debbie can determine how she would like to participate from specifying her goals such as eating 5 fruits and vegetables each day, joining her coworkers for a walk over lunch 3 days a week to completing two dance classes each week. Based on Debbie’s specific goals, she receives messages through online, email and text which are educational and motivational. She can always go to her personalized page to see all of her information in one place. 

    2. Virtual Coach.  After becoming a member of the program, Debbie receives frequent personalized communications to both remind and reinforce the goals that she selected. Debbie’s last message shared ways to increase her exercise throughout the week to see decreases in her weight. Each communication lists her recent activity and the dates that each activity was done. Debbie sees that she walked 10,000 steps most of the week of October 1st but only 5,345 steps on October 8th and 3,256 steps on October 15th which she realizes was when she was working on her big presentation. 

    3. Social Community Support. When logging in and viewing her personal page on the Healthrageous platform, Debbie sees messages from her online social community which includes a message from a co-worker about an upcoming walking challenge as well as encouraging messages from her husband and daughter. Each participant is in control of her own social community and sends out invitations to friends and family to join.

    4. Automated Activity Tracking.  Many of the wellness programs require the employee to enter the number of steps or time spent on an activity. Independence has placed sensors around the work site to automatically upload the activity information. This means that Debbie can walk by one of these spots and have her latest activity information reflected on her personalized page moments later. After all, Debbie is anxious to know how her team is doing in the latest competition.

    5. Recognition & Rewards. For each Challenge round, participants who have achieved their goals are entered into a raffle drawing.  Prizes have varied from an IPod Shuffle and a Kindle Fire, to gift cards depending on the overall length of the challenge. All participants who achieved their goals also receive a branded athletic workout shirt for their achievement. Debbie proudly wears her shirt as she walks with her team at lunch. 

    Future of Connected Health 
    Connected Health continues to be an emerging and evolving space as organizations tie their mobile initiatives into key strategic programs. 

    These technologies delivered through an online and mobile platform, offer an excellent opportunity to bridge the member’s experience between their insurance health program and their care team (e.g. physicians, nurses, coaches, caregivers, and other advocates). Connected Health will be most meaningful and engaging when data is gathered and shared to empower the consumer in ongoing behavior change towards their health goals. As Debbie discusses her progress in the Independence program with her Diabetes coach,  she not only receives encouragement and motivation but also ideas for continuing to challenge herself to reach her health goals.

    HumanaVitality Paves the “Personalized Pathway” With Rewards to Engage Employees

    With the weak economy and strong pressure from healthcare reform, employers are investing in new approaches to lower healthcare costs and lift employee productivity. Increasingly employers are investing in strategies to engage employees in their own health and reward them to motivate needed behavior change.

    According to the recent Annual Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Healthcare, employers indicated that two of their top three healthcare strategies for 2012 are to develop/expand healthy lifestyle activities” and “adopt/expand use of financial incentives.”

    In July 2011, Humana launched their HumanaVitality program, which is designed to both guide and reward the employee for participating in their health and making better lifestyle decisions. “Our members tell us that they are hooked as soon as they use the Vitality Age app to determine their age and learn about how their behaviors influence their health. And as they participate in the HumanaVitality program, members interact with the Vitality Age app to see how they are positively impacting their age,” explains Stuart Slutzky, chief, product innovation, HumanaVitality.

    Although employee incentive programs around health are not new, Humana has incorporated several innovative strategies into their Vitality solution.

    Personalized Program Design: “We are using information from the employee’s health assessment, claims information and online health behaviors to personalize their pathway,” describes Stuart. Each member sees a set of recommended activities and has the option to select any of over 30 activities to gain points.

    In addition to an individualized approach, Humana has decided to test a segment strategy after determining that the pathway is similar for members that are moving through a life stage change. Humana has created a special pathway for expectant mothers, as their first target segment. This means that members who are pregnant view a special set of activities and programs that are relevant to remain healthy throughout their maternity.

    Program Reward Structure: Humana has designed their program with different status levels for reward attainment. “Our members begin with a blue status and can move up four tiers to platinum over time as they collect enough Vitality Points™.  When climbing to a new status level, they unlock a larger discount in the rewards mall,” shares Stuart. “Humana is also working closely with small group employers in select states to offer a premium reduction based on the percent of employees that achieve silver or higher Vitality Status. Employers may choose to pass the premium reduction to employees reaching silver, gold or platinum Vitality Status."  This premium discount is in addition to rewards individual employees can redeem in the HumanaVitality Mall based on their own points earned.  

    Humana has defined the mall to appeal to members that have different motivations. “Spenders” can get instant gratification by purchasing with their Vitality Bucks.  “Savers” can accumulate their bucks for larger prizes. Soon “Givers” will be able to donate their rewards to charity.

    Through their “Jackpot Rewards,” Humana uses a gaming mechanic of randomness to select a program participant to win prizes, which are based on their status level. For example, blue status member can win movie tickets or yoga mat but a platinum status member can win a flat-screen television or iPad.

    Program to Program Connection: “Our members get rewards points when they enroll in one of our health programs. We are working on rewarding the member with more points for ongoing participation in our health program such as Weight Management. In addition to tying rewards for coaching program usage, our coaches can see the member’s efforts and earnings to date and can promote different point opportunities during their interactions to motivate the member,” Stuart explains.

    Consumer-Driven Program Development: The HumanaVitality team listens closely to members participating in the program. They have set up a process to gather feedback that members share through the email and call center channels, as well as Facebook and Twitter, and the team discusses these ideas and suggestions to define program enhancements. “Recently, we heard one of our members ask us to provide points when their kids participate in athletic events.  This was a great suggestion and is now another activity that we reward under the program.” 

    Program Success Evaluation: One key program measure is participation. Humana has expanded the ways that members can participate to earn points including obtaining preventive screenings, exercising regularly, donating blood, getting CPR-certified and quitting smoking. The newest way for members to earn points is by playing their Ubisoft “Your Shape” fitness game on their Xbox.

    HumanaVitality’s Future Direction for Engagement

    The HumanaVitality team is working on developing a deeper personalized experience by looking at the member’s past behaviors and recommending healthy activities, which match her interests. This is similar to the way Netflix suggests movies based on past viewing behavior.

    Humana is also gathering lots of data on how consumers are using their rewards program. “We are applying data analytics to evaluate program engagement beyond participation. We will look at status level movement and actions tied to behavior change,” explains Stuart.

    “In the future we will continue to expand the program to ensure we’re providing support and optimizing outcomes for all members – from members with severe conditions to marathon runners,” added Stuart.  “New reward partnerships will ensure the program provides relevant and aspirational rewards that foster improved health.”

    Regence Reaches Step 3 on their Consumer Engagement Path

    Regence Program Rewards Transformational Activities 

    Regence started on a new path to consumer engagement back in 2005.

    After seeing a recent presentation outlining their consumer engagement framework, I reached out to Torben Nielsen, VP, eBusiness Strategies and Services at Regence to learn more. Torben shared their past journey as well as their future direction with me.

    Here are the 4 steps along their consumer engagement path. Regence is currently at Step 3 and has a conceptual view of their next step which will continue to evolve as the market landscape fills in around them.

    Consumer Engagement Step 1: Know Me

    Regence’s first step focused on the passive cardholder, giving them value as they logged in. The cardholder saw all of their claims, benefits and provider information. This was back in 2005. Prior to that “it was not a good experience” since the member only saw some of their claims information and the list of providers “did not even indicate whether each one was inside or outside their network”.

    Consumer Engagement Step 2: Engage Me

    Beginning in 2008, Regence decided that they needed to get to know their members in order to effectively engage them.

    Instead of linking the member over to their health or wellness program vendor’s website, Regence decided to keep the member within their portal to capture their online behavior.

    Around that time, Regence launched their Rewards Program which awarded points to members for “tranformational activities”. These activities were rewarded because they “informed, empowered and educated the consumer”, including looking up content around a health issue or participating in a wellness program. Regence decided not to reward members for “transactional activities” such as looking up a claim or searching for a provider.  Regence really needed to keep the member on their portal to track their online behavior in order to reward them.

    Next Regence started their email program, sending out relevant electronic communications to bring members back to the site. Although many health plans have an interest in emailing members, I hear all the time that they do not have their email addresses. Regence collects the member’s email address during their site registration process. “We can’t engage with out email. It would be a missed opportunity to get in front of the member”, Torben emphasizes.

    In addition to generating additional portal traffic, health plan communications can also strengthen their member’s satisfaction scores, which is more important now than ever with the increased market  competition.

    Consumer Engagement Step 3: Connect Me

    Over the past two to three years, Regence has been moving faster down the path with consumers.

    “Connect Me” goes beyond the “member to health plan” relationship. According to Regence, this also includes strengthening the “member to member” bond through social community and the "member to their care team" bond through ACO efforts.

    One important way for Regence to strengthen the “member to member” relationship is by getting consumers to contribute more content online through conversations, ratings/reviews and suggesting local events in their geography.

    Another aspect of “Connect Me” addresses the cross communication channel experience since members are increasingly accessing and engaging through their mobile devices. “We’re connecting the data that we’re sitting on to provide a more personalized experience for our members”, explains Torben.

    Consumers are engaging with Regence!

    • 67,000+ patient reviews have been submitted by members, of which 90% are favorable (i.e. the member  would recommend the physician/facility).
    • 63,000+ posts in the Community section of myRegence.com, written by more than 6,000 unique content creators.
    • 346,000+ have opted- in for member electronic communications (e.g. updates and alerts, account information, etc)
    • 260,000+ subscribers signed up to receive the bi-weekly myRegence.com email newsletter

    Consumer Engagement Step 4: Partner with Me

    As they look down their Consumer Engagement path,  Regence has determined where they want to be directionally. Regence wants to be relevant to the consumer’s every day life. Something consumers need to check as part of their daily routine. Their starting place to look for information to meet all of their health needs.

    Although it is challenging to know exactly where the market is going, Regence will remain in touch with their users to help guide the way.

    In fact, Regence has over 400 users that help advise them by providing ongoing feedback to potential directions. [Note: Innovative companies have consumer advisory boards as a best practice. Increasingly, these consumer advisory boards are managed in a private online area and the insight captured is used to guide product and marketing decisions.]

    Regence is co-creating with this growing group of consumers to define and refine online capabilities. When Regence asked for feedback about “patient reviews”, members felt they needed to see more than the reviewer’s screen name. Users wanted “the ability to connect with their peers in order to get advice when selecting a provider”.  In the latest patient review experience, the screen name is linked to the reviewer’s Community profile page, where to learn more about who they are, where they’re from, what they do for a living and members have an the opportunity to make a friend request.

    Regence’s Results Realized

    Due in large part to Regence’s consumer engagement strategies, myRegence.com experienced the following results in 2011 over 2010:

    • 30% increase in the cumulative number of content creators (i.e. those who have left a patient review, posted in Community or both).
    • 88%  jump in the number of $25 gift card redemptions through the Rewards program 
    • 76% increase in the Consumer Engagement Index (CEI) which measures the user adoption of transformational features
    • 26% open rate for targeted email campaigns, nearly 2x the industry benchmark of 14%

    Regence has also noticed that their segmentation efforts for email have been effective in engaging consumers. For example, by sending a Patient Review email to previous reviewers, Regence realized a 38% open rate.

    As Regence moves onto step 4 in Consumer Engagement, they are conceptualizing new ways to reach out to their members with relevant information from their plan, community and care team. And they will be innovating with and listening to their users throughout their journey.