An Integrated Marketing Plan that Influences Health Plans’ Medicare 5-Star Ratings
Year-round Medicare marketing rights and a CMS bonus are more than enough motivation for health plans to leverage a portion of their annual marketing plan investment toward improving or retaining their Medicare 5-Star rating status. But at first glance, the five distinct categories that hold the more than 50 specific areas on which the CMS rates the health plans may seem to fall out of marketing’s sphere of influence. Look again, and challenge yourself to think differently about your toolbox. With an integrated marketing plan made up of brand, direct marketing and online marketing efforts, you are more likely to net great results.
Marketing can play a proactive role in building tools that promote health engagement with Medicare patients. Leverage your website to provide wellness-rich content, including tips for healthy living. As part of your integrated marketing plan, you should also work to create community-sponsored events that appeal to your senior members and give them a sense that you truly care about health. Also, seniors are very connected, so don’t be afraid to use tools like social gaming to encourage active participation in their own health. Where possible, marketing should also create branded, proactive direct marketing programs that remind members of the importance of key preventative services, and provide customized messaging around ways to stay active, healthy and fit through their retirement years.
Chronic Condition Management
When the provider network is your own, such as is the case with Kaiser Permanente or Group Health, it’s a lot easier to enforce a set of standards around in-office protocols and patient education for chronic condition management. But when you work with a contracted network, the onus shifts to marketing to ensure the materials are readily available to supplement the in-office experience and assist with patient education around chronic conditions. Make sure your integrated marketing plan includes an audit of your follow-up mailings that point the patient to online self-help tools and/or a downloadable content library. Also, promotion of relevant classes available to help them manage their chronic condition is key. Materials should be multilingual as well as culturally sensitive, and should appeal to both the senior and the caregiver. Automated marketing platforms, available through third-party vendors, may offer a cost-effective solution for fulfillment of these customized communications to your Medicare customers.
Health Plan Responsiveness and Care
Member satisfaction is a product of every touchpoint and every interaction with the member from on-boarding through the duration of their membership. Your integrated marketing plan should include an audit of all materials used to on-board Medicare members. Members should feel welcome and be presented with all the tools they need to understand their new plan. Where possible, marketing should play an active role in call center scripting and pro-active surveys of your members designed to head off emerging issues related to member satisfaction. For managed care organizations with their own physician and hospital systems, marketing should look to play an active role in the look and feel of waiting rooms, merchandising, etc., as most people will form their initial opinions from their visual interactions. The experience in the waiting rooms should reflect your overall concern for the members’ health, privacy and well-being.
Outside of doing an annual communications audit as part of your integrated marketing plan to ensure accuracy and clarity, the biggest missed opportunity for health plans is with the Annual Notice of Changes (ANOC). Little can be done to change the prescribed language the CMS mandates in these annual notices that often leave seniors glassy-eyed and ready to run for higher ground or a new health insurance carrier. But a proactive outreach strategy, leveraging direct mail, email and outbound telemarketing that can address some of the changes before and after the notice goes out, can go a long way.
Pharmacy Benefits/Prescription Drug Management
Health plans and providers should play a proactive role in explaining the value of generics versus brand names. As part of the communications audit mentioned above, carriers/providers should include an audit of the information being shared with members regarding their drug benefits and safe use of their medications. Consider adding a proactive outreach program to your marketing plan for Medicare members who start new prescription drug regimens to ensure they understand their new medications and the importance of following directions. One possible tactic would be a customized letter from their physician, encouraging them to email or call with questions.