Feedback is a gift.

We hear this phrase a lot and it’s particularly important for health plans assessing member satisfaction and how people feel about the care and customer service they receive. Properly analyzing satisfaction results is key, too—if plans are only hearing from a small percentage of their total population, they aren’t getting the insights they need to make meaningful changes to satisfy their membership. Identified feedback from members creates an opportunity for them to truly feel heard by their plan, and for the plan to see new and different trends in responses from their population.

Discover 3 secrets that leading health plans are using to improve CAHPS scores and drive up member satisfaction:

1—Get a Pulse on Member Satisfaction to Improve Overall Experience

Oftentimes, health plans don’t have a solid grasp on how satisfied or dissatisfied members are until they receive their official CAHPS scores, which doesn’t allow time for them to make an impact and turn things around for those that report dissatisfaction.

That’s why pre-CAHPS surveys are so important. To gain valuable insights from members through the use of healthcare experience surveys that assess satisfaction ahead of the official CAHPS survey, plans can identify members who are dissatisfied and work to improve their experiences. At the same time, they can maintain the satisfaction reported from members that are happy with the plan.

Truly effective satisfaction questionnaires will leverage questions similar to the CAHPS survey, but will also include questions the plan has always wanted to ask, but never had the right avenue in place to pose. By asking the exact same CAHPS questions you’ll miss a huge opportunity to gain valuable insights on the motivations, preferences, and values of your members.

For this pre-CAHPS survey program, a combination of forward-thinking Blues plans partnered with Icario to understand their members’ level of satisfaction in order to boost their future CAHPS scores.

2—Leverage a Digital + Mail Approach for Maximum Engagement

These Blues plans came to Icario seeking a new approach to understand member perspectives about healthcare experiences including how they felt about their health, their doctor, and their health plan. Knowing this was a Medicare Advantage population, we chose to leverage a multi-channel approach that included both traditional and digital outreach, using SMS, email, IVR, and direct mail channels to conduct the survey and make connections.

By leveraging questions similar to the official CAHPS survey, plus asking additional questions that the plan had been wanting to ask but hadn’t had a venue to ask their members before, we were able to gain the right insights for the plan to take action on. Plus, by offering satisfaction surveys like this, members become familiar with them and feel more inclined to complete the official survey when it rolls around because it’s in their best interest—they know their feedback is valued and acted upon.

This program ultimately impacted how members feel about their plan because they know their voice is being heard. A unique feature of Icario surveys is once complete, the member receives a member action plan—a personal resource guide for individuals to help determine what to do next and how their plan can support their health based on their responses and areas of need.

This builds trust between members and healthcare organizations, and fosters a stronger, more connected relationship. It improves member experience, giving members the opportunity to share their experiences and feelings before the official CAHPS survey. And most importantly, it gives the plan time to take action on those reporting dissatisfaction and make meaningful improvements.

Quest for Member Satisfaction

The Quest for Member Satisfaction: Improving Experience & Reducing Churn

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3—Maximize Outreach With Less Member Abrasion

This program resulted in a number of successes including strong engagement from members and high satisfaction reported.


From an engagement perspective, we attained exceptional results with a 34% completion rate. This far exceeded the expectations of the plan and were over 2x higher than the projected target rate. Plus, the survey yielded impressive engagement—92% of members answered all survey questions.

While we leveraged a channel mix that included both digital and traditional outreach, we found 35% of overall responses came from SMS and email outreach. The channel mix worked in the plans’ favor—implementing a coordinated outreach approach resulted in very little member abrasion. Given the lack of member dissatisfaction with outreach, a greater number of attempts could be incorporated into future programs to gain even higher response rates.

Interestingly, direct mail was the second most preferred channel and it was evident that including mail boosted engagement and completions for this program. Because email was identified as a preferred way to receive communications, and in one program we achieved an 84% email contact rate, a key insight for future campaigns was to include more emails for a truly hands-on digital option for members to complete the survey.


The goal of this program was to understand member satisfaction and determine how to improve before the official CAHPS survey. Overall, we found the responses in the survey to be positive. Of the total members engaged, 84% rated the health plan a 7 or above.

Additionally, 86% of members rated their overall health as good, very good, or excellent. These results allow the plan to keep doing what they’re doing for the members that are satisfied and really lean in on the results of those that reported dissatisfaction in order to move the needle in the right direction for those members.

Fortunately for these plans, the vast majority of members were highly satisfied. In addition to positive responses, we were able to find some interesting trends in the geography, age, income level, and tenure with the plan as to who and why those people like them more, which is incredibly valuable information for the health plan.

To enhance the engagement of this program in the future, we’d advocate for leveraging additional outreach channels, message types, and data enrichment strategies for maximum member action and to boost future CAHPS scores.