A 27-year-old living in Brooklyn is not going to respond the same way to communications as a 72-year-old living in a rural community in Ohio—you can’t talk to these people using the same messages and methods and expect it to spark action. For example, a message tailored to a retiree about scheduling a PCP visit won’t resonate the same way with a working millennial. They’ll likely have different concerns than someone who is retired and on Medicare, such as the potential cost of the visit or the need to take time off from work.

Engaging diverse populations requires a different approach. But now that Medicare Advantage (MA) quality teams are tasked with managing, tracking, and engaging the exchange population, they’re quickly realizing they need a new set of tools to make the connection.

2020 marks the first measurement year for the exchange population, meaning that quality ratings will now apply to an entirely new population—one that is largely foreign to Medicare Advantage (MA) quality teams. In fact, only 1% of the marketplace population are 65+, leaving 99% of the population a total mystery to those responsible for engaging them in their health.

This begs the question: when all of the information you have is geared towards the MA population, how do you begin to understand how to talk to a wider, more diverse audience? Let alone move them to action? The same message themes and outreach channels don’t apply.

To help navigate this new landscape, we’ve compiled a 3 step process to help you effectively engage the exchange population and close gaps in care.

1—Connect With Your Medicaid Counterparts

Leverage the experts within your own organization to get a better understanding of engaging a bigger, more complex audience. We’ve heard many success stories from quality teams that have collaborated with their Medicaid counterparts to understand how they engage their diverse, hard-to-reach Medicaid populations. These teams have a wealth of experience and can give you valuable insight and actionable ideas to get started with new tactics that will truly resonate with individuals, not just the 1%.

To learn more about how to engage diverse, hard-to-reach populations, read Icario’s case study Driving Difficult to Reach Populations to the Doctor – Medicaid.

2—Invest in Behavioral Research

Asking questions and conducting research is always a great starting point—what do you know about these members? How do they like to communicate? What messages make an impact? Answering these questions can become difficult if you’re only researching the member data provided to you by the state. Similar to Medicaid population data, this data can often be unreliable, outdated, and incomplete. As a result, you need to do more than data analysis.

Take it a step further and invest in behavioral research. Through extensive behavioral research practices, Icario has found that understanding individual healthcare attitudes, belief systems, and habits to inform messaging consistently delivers better results. So before you start reaching out to members, interview them and find out who they are first.

To learn more about the role of behavioral research in healthcare engagement listen to Episode 6 of RadioRev Understanding Flu Shot Attitudes Using Behavioral Research with Matt Swanson.

3—Embrace the Change

Above all, embrace the new measures for the marketplace population. While it may feel overwhelming to be responsible for an entirely new population you aren’t familiar with, the reasons behind the new quality measures are sound. The goal is to make sure that all members are getting the care they need to live stronger, healthier lives— the quality measures exist to ensure we’re reaching and impacting as many members as possible.

The introduction of these quality measures provides the opportunity to engage a new population, more diverse in demographics than the MA population that could lead to new innovations and methods that could positively impact all members.

To learn more about the new marketplace measures read CMS’ guidance Health Insurance Marketplace Quality Rating Information.

The good news is that you’re not alone in figuring out the most effective way to engage. You can choose to leverage your internal teams or find a partner that specializes in personalized engagement. This is where Icario can help. Our health action programs are designed to meet people where they are with messages that compel them to take specific actions. All for better health.