Among health plans, improving member engagement is a major concern. When members don't engage in their own health plan, they reduce their own quality of care either. They do this either by intentionally avoiding their appointments and treatments or by passively failing to participate and engage. Health plans are constantly looking for new and better ways to get patients engaged. But often what it really comes down to is helping patients make it to their appointments.
Even with some incredible innovations in telemedicine and medical technology, the basic techniques are often still the most effective.
1) Set Up Clinics Close to Home
The first step is to make clinics more accessible to your health plan members. Many people don't take advantage of their plan benefits or health plan simply because they don't care for the long drive to the closest plan-approved clinic or hospital. In fact, if the closest office is a hospital, many people won't come in on that fact alone. Hospitals are large, intimidating, and don't feel like a casual part of a comfortable life.
Providing smaller neighborhood clinics close to your members will make coming in to appointments far more appealing. The easier it is for members to either drive themselves or catch rides to their appointments, the more likely they are to come. And the more welcoming those clinics are, the more likely they are to make appointments to come in a second time.
2) Provide Rides To the Clinic and Back Home
Getting to the appointments is another issue. Not every health plan member has their own car or feels fully comfortable driving themselves. Among your health plan members who are already in retirement, many may have already stopped driving and need to catch rides with friends and relatives to make it to their plan appointments.
Therefore, providing transportation for your health plan members is an ideal way to help those of your members who would like to come to appointments, but can't make it to a clinic. Friendly drivers and comfortable cars are the key to members taking you up on the offer for regular transportation to local clinics.
3) Send Appointment Reminders Through Patient Preferred Channels
For your patients who can make it to appointments and who have clinics nearby, sometimes all it takes is a few friendly reminders. The importance here is to communicate in whatever way each member finds most preferable. Those who like phone calls might appreciate a friendly phone call on the day before their appointment just to check in and make sure they still plan to arrive. This can engender the feeling of being cared about, of someone expecting them and being glad to see them when they arrive. A little positive interaction can go a long way in encouraging members to attend their appointments, as a social interaction if not for their own health.
4) Send Medical Professionals to Patient Homes
Finally, for your patients who are most difficult to reach or who are suffering from a more severe condition at home, you can take the health care to them. Sending doctors and medical professionals to patient homes when they are unable to make it to the clinic can be extremely meaningful and effective. When or if the patient recovers, they may feel more comfortable coming in for appointments to see doctors who went through the effort to come to them in times of need. And those who will not get well will truly appreciate that your health plan is willing to extend service right into their own home to take good care of them.
Member engagement in your health plan is all about participation, and you can increase engagement by reducing barriers to participation. MedXM can help you provide nearby clinics, transportation, and visits to patient homes beyond the resources of your central health plan network. Contact us today to find out more about increasing your patient engagement through health plan accessibility.