Show Me You Know Me: How Health Plans Can Build Trust and Increase Engagement Using Personalization

We recently co-hosted a webinar with Oliver Wyman discussing how health plans can use personalization to build trust with their members – without creeping them out. How far is too far? How far is not far enough? Here are a few of the biggest take-aways from both our own research and that of Oliver Wyman.

Show Me You Know Me…But Not Too Well!

In one of our recent rounds of research, we found that around half of respondents trust apps and web-based patient portals more if they use personalization in communications and/or to help them make health care decisions. Furthermore, 45% of respondents say they are more likely to act on communications about their health and health care services if it includes personalization. Showing your health plan members that you know them through personalization tactics could reward you with an increased likelihood that your message will have the impact you want.

While personalizing member communications helps increase trust and inspire action, it’s not that simple if you want to keep you remembers trust. Personalization in health care marketing tends to walk a very fine line between being perceived as caring by health plan members and being deemed creepy.

Don’t Be Creepy: Finding the Fine Line of Personalization is an Ongoing Challenge

Interacting with members where you aren’t expected feels surprising and invasive – regardless of your intent. People want companies they interact with to honor the social contract they have established.

While being cautious when and where you use personalized information, both our own research and that of Oliver Wyman shows that consumers are willing to share their data – and a lot of it in many cases – for the right reasons. And, this is true across age demographics, with boomers actually being more willing than Millennials to share personal health data if it will net them better health care.

People want companies to use the information they have given permission for them to have (or that they expect you already have) to help them. But remember – the fine line is an ongoing challenge! Permission is variable and not always overt, so it’s important to look at what contributes to whether you have that permission – or not!

So, Who Are They Willing to Share Information With?

Who has a member’s trust (and permission) to use data to help? And what does the level of trust look like? The list looks like this:

  • Doctors = Trusted Partners. People think of doctors as right alongside them in their care and invested partners in their health care journey.
  • Health Plan = Financial Business Relationship. Health plans are still rank pretty high when it comes to who users trust with using their personal health information, but in this relationship, it’s all about financial transactions and cost.
  • Employer = Risk. There is a lot of fear of potential harm when it comes to employers using personalized health information with employees. There is a sense of danger in an employer knowing personal heath data and using it in any way.

Think about the power differential as you look through each of these sources. Doctors are at the top and in a position to help people – while employers are in a prime position to potentially negatively impact a person insurance coverage or employment status with detailed personal health information. Keeping this hierarchy of trust in mind as you considering where and when to use personalized information with members is important.

What’s Expected and From Whom?

As one memorable research respondent said, “Doctors should doctor, and payers should pay.” People are more willing to accept different advice and information from different sources – and a key area of distinction in how personalization efforts are received are determined by two factors: the source (doctor or health plan) and the content (cost versus treatment).

Here are a couple stats for context here:

  • 75% of our respondents look to their plans for cost information
  • 78% look to their doctor for where to receive treatment and 83% for how to receive treatment

In member interviews, people tell us that insurance is supposed to help them pay for care – so they look to plans for cost-related information (very eagerly in most cases). But, they only give medical professionals permission to give personalized help with what, where, and how to receive treatment.

It is important, to note, however, that while people don’t want their plan to interfere with care recommendations, they do what providers to join in the cost conversation. It turns out cost is an important factor that consumers are willing to share information in exchange for cost information from both their provider and their plan. The majority of consumers across all demographics want their doctors to take finances into account when providing recommendations or at least give them the information to do so.

How Can You Use Personalized Information to Build Trust With Members?

At the end of the day, if you can use personalization to help members complete a task it is more valuable than marketing to folks.

There are several simple ways to use personalization to delight your health plan members across their member portal experience, on your website, through your mobile app, and even with your customer service team. Here are just a few to get you started:

  • Help members complete a task relevant to them more easily by using their personalized information.
  • Use the personalized data to help people make a decision, save them effort, and/or save them from a mistake.
  • Given the importance of medical-related decisions and the complexity of the health care system – using your member’s medical history wisely make a very positive impact.
  • Give your members information that helps them save them money.
  • Give them a bespoke and tailored health care offering instead of a generic health care pathway.

If you’d like to learn more about what we discussed in Creating a Magnetic Experience in Health Care, please feel free to get in touch!