According to the CDC, 100,000 lives a year could be saved if everyone in the U.S. received recommended preventive care. Documented successful patient outcomes from appropriate screenings for issues such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes add weight to the argument in favor of preventive care.
Despite overwhelming evidence that preventive care promotes improved patient outcomes, current estimates indicate that Americans use preventive services at only about half of the recommended rate.
One of the reasons for this gap between the recommendation and the utilization of preventive care measures concerns a failure on the part of many health care plans to prioritize member engagement.
Why Engagement Is Vital
In the case of preventive care, member engagement is essential. For a vast majority of Americans, preventive care takes a back seat to more pressing concerns. With an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality, it is easy for a member to think of healthcare only when he or she is actually experiencing a specific health issue.
However, this mentality is costly both in terms of member well-being and cost management for health plan administrators. Since early detection of serious medical conditions leads to more appropriate treatment options and better patient outcomes, preventive care is a core process for health plans hoping to bend the cost curve of healthcare in the right direction.
Obstacles to Engagement
That being said, how can health plans engage their members and encourage utilization of preventive care measures? To answer that question effectively, it is necessary to first delve into the reasons that members may not be taking advantage of preventive health care. Some common reasons may be:
- Lack of education about the preventive services that are available
- Worry about the financial implications of using preventive care
- Concern about the possibility of discovering serious health problems through preventive screening
- Unavailability of screening facilities or medical staff to handle screenings
- Inconvenient screening locations for members in certain areas
If your members have any of these concerns, it is time to step up your engagement efforts to bolster utilization of preventive services.
Ways to Improve Member Engagement
The cornerstone of member engagement is education. How can you educate your members about the importance of preventive care? Here are some tips for reaching your members:
- Sponsor seminars or webinars with informative material which highlights the benefit of preventive care
- Provide clear direction regarding how and where members can find facilities to handle preventive screenings
- Provide regular reminders of important screenings and preventive care measures such as mammograms, flu vaccinations, colon cancer screening, etc.
- Clearly inform members regarding free preventive care services, as well as low-cost options, addressing financial concerns for members
Tailoring Educational Outreach
In addition to this generalized information, it is a good practice to individualize reminders for members. For instance, for those with a health condition such as diabetes, it is wise to prompt additional screenings for diseases and conditions which may result from diabetes such as heart disease.
Tailoring educational outreach initiatives to each member according to his or her need will greatly influence the success rate for member engagement. The simple truth is that people need to be made aware of how preventive care will help them personally. Once that point is made, many members will take advantage of preventive care because they understand its personal value to them.
For some members, however, even more is required. Health plans that coordinate care in situations where members are home-bound or otherwise unable to avail themselves of preventive care services in traditional settings promote greater member engagement.
Identifying and engaging these members presents challenges for health plans. However, there are options available to help coordinate care and education for all health plan members. For more information about how you can educate and service your members more effectively, please contact us. MedXM tailors solutions to match your needs, the needs of your member population, and ensure that your plan is providing access to optimal care.
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