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A Hunger for Digital: Health Payers Leave Plan Members Wanting More


Our second “Voice of the Digital Member” study reveals 10 key findings on ways that health plans can refine their member digital experience strategies in 2018 and beyond.

Two years ago, we conducted our first-ever “Voice of the Digital Member” survey to uncover the digital demands of health plan members. Our findings revealed health plan members had a growing appetite for digital, and we recommended that payers invest in digital engagement capabilities to sell and service plans; design for mobile first; and communicate more effectively with members about digital offerings.

This year we revisited those findings, conducting an in-depth quantitative survey online with 2,400 respondents in four national, 10 Blue, 154 regional and Medicare and Medicaid health plans across 50 states. We learned that health plan members want more digital than ever—and are still waiting for payers to deliver it. These following snapshots of our top 10 key survey findings show where payers still have room to improve and expand their digital offerings.

Digital adoption increased across all channels; members across all age groups expect more self-service capabilities

Nearly 60% of the survey respondents said they wanted more digital self-service and self-care tools. To meet this demand, payers should analyze the healthcare utilization patterns of member segments to create more experiences and features that align with specific member journey requirements. Delivering great member experiences will be table stakes as digital natives enter the industry, so payer investment in member-facing digital channels and tools is critical.

Use of mobile devices for standard member interactions has increased significantly

In the last two years, members have begun using mobile far more often for routine transactions such as making payments, checking claims status and accessing personal health records. Use of wellness apps via mobile also grew in popularity. To match members’ willingness to use mobile, payers need to focus on mobile-first designs that offer a consistent set of capabilities and experiences that work seamlessly across mobile and web channels, and all devices — tablets, phones, laptops and PCs.

The big social shift mirrors trends in other consumer-facing industries

In our 2016 survey, few members used social channels in relation to their health plans. Two years later, social channels’ influence on consumers’ health insurance purchases has jumped more than 100%, and they are now nearly three times more likely to use social channels to gather plan information. Email also has grown as a useful consumer tool. Now payers must include social in their omnichannel sales, marketing and service functions, and invest in social media monitoring and listening tools.

Members’ willingness to share data digitally has increased

Members are 50% more willing today than they were in 2016 to share data digitally with payers. This development creates an enormous opportunity for payers to create value-added services that will lead to greater member satisfaction and help payers compete against new industry entrants.

Wearables: Are you ready? Your members are!

Members are increasingly adopting wearables and other in-home monitoring devices to manage their health. Combined with members’ willingness to share data, payers have opportunities to provide personalized care, conduct targeted wellness interventions and offer members incentives for preventive care. That said, payers must design programs to ensure that members find sharing their data worth their time and effort.

Digital: Still not just for millennials

Members across all age groups consider the availability of digital tools important when making purchasing decisions and are leveraging digital channels to interact with payers. Payers must avoid age bias and conduct user experience testing across multiple age groups; offer services that appeal across all ages; and adjust adoption campaign messages to promote the key features most wanted in each age group.

Member satisfaction increased more for national and blues vs. regional payers

Overall satisfaction levels have risen for national and blues plans, whereas those for regional payers have dipped. Across all payers, satisfaction for digital offerings has increased. To remain competitive, regional plans would benefit from investing in digital self-service capabilities that create personalized, seamless experiences for their members.

Members demand more digital-guided shopping capabilities

Members want mobile apps, multi-lingual support, online comparison and evaluation tools and personalized recommendations when shopping for health plans. Payers must make it a priority to deliver such features and support them with intelligent middle and back-office operations so that shopping decisions flow into streamlined enrollment processes for truly superior customer experiences. 

Figure 1

Digital capabilities increase member stickiness

While members are still most influenced by physician networks and costs when buying a health plan, digital capabilities—or lack of them—are a continuing influence too. Digital features also contribute to overall member experience, with plans that invested in digital outperforming others in overall satisfaction and retention by nearly 5%. Digital capabilities can strongly influence member perceptions of payers, so payers should recognize their members’ digital preferences and create capabilities across those channels to nurture brand loyalty. 

Satisfaction of mobile experience is low for 50-plus age group

The survey showed member satisfaction with mobile app experiences decreases with age. Incorporating human-centered design and rapid prototyping with actual user testing can help pinpoint what’s causing dissatisfaction and help ensure swift adoption of digital tools among targeted segments. These are important data points to capture as digitally savvy consumers age into different service categories and bring new expectations of digital service with them. That’s in part why we expanded this survey to include 400 Medicare and 400 Medicaid members. 

Next Steps

Payers must simultaneously improve member-facing digital options and capabilities and make driving digital adoption of those capabilities a top priority. This means transforming front-office capabilities and supporting them with retooled, automated and intelligent middle- and back-office operations. These abilities play a huge role in how shoppers and members perceive payers and will likely determine how well payers can compete against the new entities emerging in the growing on-demand healthcare economy. 

For more about the digital capabilities members want from their health plans, read “Extending the Case for Digital: Health Plan Members Speak,” visit the healthcare section of the website or contact us.

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A Hunger for Digital: Health Payers Leave Plan Members Wanting More