Research has already demonstrated the potential for health engagement to create dramatic results aligned with what the Institute for Healthcare Improvement calls the “Triple Aim” of improving population health, improving patient care and reducing costs.

We’ve seen healthcare providers and health plans know the benefits of patients actively participating in managing their own care, and more healthcare providers and health plans are learning the gains achieved from members involved in collaborative decision-making where wellness and other early screening programs are concerned.

Here are 3 Ways to Better Health & Lower Costs:

1. Leveraging Engagement Campaigns to Educate on Self-Care

We know customer engagement has already shown itself to be a potent way to enhance patient satisfaction, and is the source of improved HEDIS scores, CMS Stars and performance bonus payments. Good self-care results in fewer hospital readmissions and better chronic disease management. Ultimately, customer engagement lowers costs through better utilization of provider resources by the patient, leading to more operational efficiencies for providers and in turn health plans.

Credible studies provide countless examples of the financial benefits of member and patient engagement:

  • A reduction in hospital readmissions
  • 20% drop in transitions from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities
  • Reduced provider labor and delivery costs
  • Improved prescription adherence
  • Higher adoption of wellness programs

2. Promoting Prevention Programs to Members

According to the CDC, one-third of total healthcare costs are related to chronic disease. Patients with pre-existing chronic illness have the highest rate of preventable hospital readmissions. In our experience better management of high-cost chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes through member engagement has been shown to lead to fewer visits to hospital emergency departments.

Methods for customer engagement continue to emerge. Many – though not all – are incorporating digital tactics. They include:

  • Outreach programs
  • Pre-visit check-ins
  • Rewards programs
  • Mobile tools, including wearables
  • Email
  • Call centers, including IVR
  • Healthcare portals
  • Member engagement platforms

Healthcare portals are interesting because they’re frequently cited as a favorite for health education, not just prescription refills and appointment settings. In fact, portals alone are credited with reducing hospital admissions by up to 20% among their users. These numbers are hard proof that effective tools like portals and even native apps, where people are highly engaged, can result in significant cost reductions.

3. Engaging & Talking with Patients in Real Time

Despite the rise in healthcare IT, the most effective component of engagement, and the one that lowers costs the most dramatically, is not a technology solution. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that of all patient engagement methods, the most effective is still direct, empathetic clinician time with patients, with shared decision-making a close second.

Still, there were other initiatives that showed good results, both as reported by the survey and empirically through our client results. These include:

  • Incentives for members to participate in wellness programs
  • Rewards for patients in terms of improving their health
  • Better education for both members and patients in terms of their healthcare choices
  • Fast access to relevant services to accelerate each step of the member and patient journey