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A ghost wearing sunglasses

Until recently “ghosting”—the practice of ending a relationship with someone suddenly without explanation and withdrawing from all communication—applied to the dating world. As it’s become more commonly known, it easily applies to any scenario, including communications, or lack thereof, with health plan members. This especially applies when trying to engage with members who need healthcare interventions.

While ghosting might be tough to overcome in dating, it’s a healthcare problem that can be addressed with the right health engagement strategy. Here are 7 health engagement mistakes that may lead your members to ghost you, and what to do to make things right.

7 Scary Member Engagement Mistakes That Cause Members to Ghost You


#1: You’ve Sent Too Many Messages

A health engagement strategy that focuses on quantity over quality will ultimately lead to member abrasion. Ghosting often happens when someone feels overwhelmed by constant communication. And if those messages aren’t well-coordinated, lack depth, and are asking too much? It’s a recipe to get ghosted.

By building a communication approach that focuses on personalized, individual member needs, you’ll have a much higher chance of establishing a meaningful connection. When a member feels understood and supported, they are much more likely to engage. The power of personalization through well-timed, well-coordinated messages is crucial to a strong health engagement strategy.


A pumpkin wearing sunglasses


#2: Your Messages Aren’t Compelling

Health engagement is more than just well-timed, well-coordinated messages, though. The communications need to count. They need to be precise, compelling, and clearly demonstrate value. And if they aren’t, you’ll likely be left on read.

Thinking through what a member’s individual needs are and crafting messaging to address their unique situation will have a higher likelihood of engagement. Further, a focus on what a member actually needs versus what you (as a health plan) may need from them builds a foundation of understanding. When you help a member overcome a barrier or get them connected to a much needed resource, you build trust. When trust is established, meaningful engagement follows.


Ghost wearing sunglasses


#3: You’re Taking the Wrong Approach

At Reema, when we talk about engagement we’re thinking about the highest cost, highest need members in your member population. These members are likely already unengaged, so what works for the majority of members won’t work here—engagement with this population requires a different approach.

When phone calls and text messages aren’t working, a visit to the member’s home may be the next best action. Taking this community-level approach can be a challenge if you don’t have a local, community-based engagement practice already in place. But from experience, we know that face-time goes a long way to establish connections and re-engage members that were previously considered unreachable. Getting creative with outreach and testing out tactics like home visits can lead to higher engagement and better outcomes.


A pumpkin wearing sunglasses


#4: Your Data & Technology Strategy Might be Outdated

Building an engagement strategy on incomplete, outdated, or siloed data means you don’t have a complete picture of the member you’re trying to reach. This can lead to problems connecting if you have an old phone number, a past address, or inaccurate information about a member’s medical history. If the data you’re basing your strategy on isn’t reliable you won’t ever hear back from the members you’re trying to reach.

Every member is unique, with individual healthcare needs and barriers to overcome. Technology can help us identify which gaps exist for individual members, which relies heavily on quality data. Health plans have access to rich member data and by breaking down silos to create a complete member profile, we’re able to leverage more accurate data to better understand what a member needs. A focus on building a scalable and sustainable data strategy will not only keep members engaged longer, it’ll provide a more accurate scope of member health conditions and challenges. All of this matters in building relationships and establishing trust.


Ghost wearing sunglasses


#5: You Aren’t Personalizing the Experience

We’ve all been victim to batch-and-blast messaging techniques from brands. While it may be a strategy that works in other industries, it doesn’t typically work in healthcare. That’s because generic messages don’t empower members to take action and they feel like a number rather than a person to make a real connection with.

Personalization in healthcare is more than knowing someone’s name. It’s building a relationship focused on member needs first, and delivering on health outcomes second. When establishing this relationship, understanding what someone is struggling with and the barriers they face is a better indicator of how to help a member than knowing what their medical conditions are. At least at first.


A pair of ghosts wearing sunglasses


#6: Your Priorities Don’t Align with Member Needs

The members that Reema works with are the members that need healthcare interventions the most. They are often unengaged, unreachable, and unresponsive. This could be for a number of reasons (see 1-5 above, for example) or it could be that they have more pressing needs in their lives to address before thinking about their health. When someone is worried about how they’ll get their next meal or how to pay a bill to keep their lights on, they aren’t thinking about making appointments or scheduling doctor’s visits.

An approach focused on meeting unmet social needs of members has proven to lead to a reduction in claims costs and improved health outcomes. Our belief is that when you’re reaching out to a member that you haven’t been able to engage with, the focus should be on their needs, not our own priorities. Once we understand the barriers the member is facing, we do what we can to help and create as much stability as we can. Then, conversations about health and condition management follows.


A pumpkin wearing sunglasses


#7: You Haven’t Build a Foundation of Trust

Many members that require higher levels of engagement have historically been underserved and underrepresented, which is why they’ve become disengaged in the first place. Trust isn’t built by sending a series of text messages about their health—it takes time and requires a deeper connection. It requires representation and shared identity to lay the groundwork for meaningful engagement.

When members know and trust your intentions, they’re more likely to engage. For example, it’s easier to make a connection with someone when you’re able to talk to them about things like shopping at the same grocery store, or a favorite local park, or a teacher you both had in high school. Humanizing the experience through commonalities can build connection and empathy faster, and in a more meaningful way. This is why a community-guided approach is so effective because these people live and work in the same place the members live, which establishes an instant connection and sense of familiarity.


Ghost wearing sunglasses


Member engagement doesn’t look the same for each member and requires a personalized approach, focused on individual member needs and representation. By refocusing an engagement strategy that’s member-centric and intentional, you’re less likely to experience ghosting from members and can more successfully re-engage members to improve health outcomes.

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