Meaningful Health Engagement Starts with Trust
Last week the Reema team attended and spoke at the 19th Annual SNP Alliance Fall Forum in Washington DC. We were delighted to have Melissa Kjolsing, Reema’s Chief Growth Officer, speak alongside Sara Leivermann, VP Medicaid Innovation at UnitedHealthcare Community & State for a session called, “Show Me the Trust: The Foundation for Meaningful Health Engagement.”
The talk was packed with measurable insights and impactful takeaways. If you missed the live session, here are the highlights:
Moving Members to Better Health Isn’t Just About Engagement—it’s About Building Authentic Relationships and Trust
Health engagement has historically been a check-the-box metric that never went further than a few phone calls or direct mail pieces to try and get a member to do something good for their health. But that’s not how Reema or UHC see it—health engagement is about developing and deploying programs that help connect us to our members, often through partnerships in the community and with community-based organizations.
We define engagement as a meaningful relationship. That relationship includes communication that’s initiated by both the member and Reema throughout the program. An engaged member is one that is willing to communicate their latest challenges, potential needs, and where they would like support.”
Trust as the Foundation for Meaningful Engagement
And before we can even think about engagement, we need to think about trust. Establishing trust is a huge challenge, one that Reema and UHC have been working hard to build. So how does this happen? The best thing health plans can do is to honor the commitments made to members. It’s about doing what we say we’re going to do and delivering on those promises. It may sound simple, but sometimes the simplest things are the most complex and critical.
By making healthcare easier to understand and focusing on meeting member’s where they are, versus asking them to do things, we’re able to build a foundation of trust.”
Meet a Member: Calvin’s Story
To demonstrate how we’ve seen trust-building lead to improved health outcomes, let’s look at a real member journey. Calvin’s story is one we like to highlight because it’s a great example of how delivering on promises and addressing unmet social needs can lead to better health outcomes.
When we met Calvin he was going through a divorce and found himself homeless, living in his van. His life was chaotic and required many interactions to get him stabilized before he could even think about his health and focus on improving his well-being.
In 9 months, there were over 40 touch points between Calvin and his Reema Community Guide.”
Over the course of our time working with Calvin, we were able to meet many of his needs—food insecurity, transportation to appointments, assistance with paperwork to secure housing, a listening ear when he was feeling lonely and defeated, and most importantly—housing. We were able to help Calvin navigate his way to a new apartment so he had a stable, safe place to call home.
Supporting Calvin through this period of time when he was homeless was not a linear experience. There were ups and downs, but we were with him every step of the way. Now, Calvin not only has a new home, he is able to focus on his health. In fact, he’s been able to avoid any in-patient hospitalizations and unexpected ED visits with our support.
This led to Calvin consistently making visits to his doctors to manage his conditions, resulting in an overall member cost decrease of $842 per month. Not only did this process require a great deal of navigation support, it was based on a strong foundation of trust which led to great health impacts.
How to Support the “Calvins” in Your Member Population
We know that health plans have many members like Calvin, and require the tools to help more members. So how do we support more “Calvins” to drive this impact? For some individuals, they will need a deep connection to build trust, meet needs, and empower them. It’s a very individualized experience. The check-the-box mentality of old doesn’t cut it anymore.
Something that’s tactical, personalized, and focused on building community results in long-term change. To do this, we must truly understand member needs down to the individual level.”
Key Ways to Build a Member-Centric Engagement Approach
To get you started, there are 3 key ways to build a member-centric engagement approach: personalization, representation, and conversation.
- Personalization. This requires reliable data that can offer insights to help identify the best engagement strategy—whether that be in-person, a phone call, or a text message. Plus, the right data will also help inform the right messages to lead with when engaging a member.
- Representation. Shared identity plays a pivotal role in how a member will engage with their health plan. Never underestimate the importance of meaningful connections to build trusting relationships between members and plans.
- Conversations. A focus on connecting is key. This strategy works because when we are intentionally focused on a person and not clinical outcomes, we build trust quicker. The initial engagement isn’t an assessment and Community Guides know how to get to the core of the barriers a member may be struggling with because they’re listening and have the resources to help.
These three elements will help you develop a very member-focused engagement approach. It may seem basic, but it’s not easy. And, even better…it can be done.