Care Coordination: The Building Blocks of Trust and Engagement

December 6, 2021 Bridget McKenzie, RN, MSN

Member engagement is imperative for health plans to remain financially viable. When care coordination efforts are fully integrated with end-to-end engagement, the results benefit both members and the plan — closing gaps in care, improving member outcomes, elevating quality scores and resolving authorizations. But most current care coordination efforts are not optimized to build member engagement because they skip over a key element that should be seamlessly integrated throughout the member journey: trust building. 

To enhance and optimize engagement, plans must create a foundation of trust with members and use every multichannel step of their healthcare journey as an opportunity to build the relationship. A foundation of mutual trust evolves plans’ now-fragmented clinical programs into optimized member engagement. When every touchpoint is coordinated with member outreach, plans can leverage every opportunity to intuitively and efficiently respond to member needs.

Only 25% of members see their plan as a trusted partner in their health and wellness. 

Increasingly, members don’t trust health plans to act in their best interest. Only 25% of members see their plan as a trusted partner in their health and wellness, according to a 2020 J.D. Power survey. Through optimized clinical engagement strategies, plans can authentically connect with members to create long-term retention, behavior change and cost savings. 

Members are unlikely to engage and even less likely to incorporate behavior change without a foundation of trust with their plan. Trust is also a two-way street. Once member trust is earned, the plan should also trust that the members will use their benefits as intended. 

Stages of trust building

The stages of trust building help define the building blocks of care coordination. Optimized care coordination solutions go beyond traditional outbound programs, which can fall flat without trust built from earlier touchpoints.   

Stage 1: Connection

When a member first becomes aware of your business, they are looking for a plan that best aligns with their needs. This is where you can start to guide them from awareness to education, serving up high-level relevant content that piques their interest, establishes a connection and breadcrumbs their path towards more in-depth information as they need it.    

Stage 2: Caution

After a member has become interested, they will proceed to educate themselves and others such as their spouse or business partner. This stage is where the most conversations happen before the member commits to a decision. For health plans, this is a great opportunity to build rapport with a potentially hesitant member through proactive outreach. 

Stage 3: Consistency   

As you learn and track more about a prospective member, you can begin to personalize engagement, at scale, using automation. Prospects in your system will have different preferences for what and when certain types of communications are needed. By tailoring outreach to match member expectations, you can establish a consistent line of communication and further establish trust.  At the end of the day, members want to know their health plan remembers who they are and their individual needs.

Stage 4: Courage  

Once a member makes the decision to convert or sign up for your plan, they are taking a risk. You can offer support and reassurance with the right outreach at the right time, such as an email featuring positive testimonials from other members to solidify their choice and make them feel comfortable. It’s ok to acknowledge and celebrate their big step forward.

Stage 5: Commitment

To be a business that stands out, you have to continuously meet your members where they’re at and thoughtfully engage with them throughout the entire customer journey. Members today like to do research and are regularly bombarded by other plan options. But if you’ve established trust over time and displayed commitment to getting members the best outcome, you’re making steps to strengthen the relationship. The member feels valued vs. like a number.

Making a meaningful connection 

Members are empowered with more information and choices than ever. The stages of trust building are key to re-imagining clinical programs for a better consumer experience. But there is a value exchange that must happen today to generate engagement and establish lasting member relationships.

Each communication should be designed to help members accomplish a goal they couldn’t before or make a memorable connection. It could be a helpful tip, providing answers to some common questions you receive or a quick check-in to see how they’re doing.

With authentic, personalized outreach, you can better guide your members’ decision making. Instead of just selling them something, you can show them you understand their needs and can help them solve a problem. The right care coordination tools create a more efficient engagement environment, when bi-directional trust is the foundation. 

For more information about Conduent Care Management Solutions, visit us online.

About the Author

Bridget McKenzie, RN, MSN

Bridget is the Clinical Business Solutions Executive for Healthcare Payer Solutions. She is a highly accomplished leader with versatile medical management experience in utilization management, case and disease management, inpatient and outpatient care, as well as medical and behavioral health experience in hospitals, community health centers and healthcare companies. Her regulatory expertise includes HIPAA, NCQA, URAC, HEDIS, STARs, RAFs, P4P, MCRA, CMS VBC Program, Medicare/Medicaid, as well as state and federal regulations. Prior to joining Conduent, Bridget was Vice President, Medical Management and Chief Nursing Officer at Conifer Health Solution, LLC. She has more than 30 years of healthcare experience and earned both her bachelor’s degree in nursing and master’s degree in community health nursing from Boston College.

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