The Transformative Potential of Data-driven Engagement in Healthcare

Updated on October 5, 2021

By Sandy Rohrer, Sr. Director of Healthcare Product Management at Broadridge 

Healthcare organizations everywhere are now using data in innovative ways to enhance and simplify diagnostics, patient care, compliance, medical recordkeeping, and more. In fact, we’re amid a data revolution in healthcare. 

Data is especially transformative for patient and member communications. Leading carriers and healthcare providers are harnessing the power of data and analytics to reimagine the entire member and patient (“customer”) experience, changing the ways we access, use, and pay for healthcare. 

There’s incredible opportunity if healthcare companies can effectively use data to execute meaningful, omni-channel customer engagement. In this article, I share three strategic pillars of data-driven engagement and the impact we’re seeing when businesses get it right. 

  1. Data management

Data management is critical for effective data-driven engagement. When data is stored in disconnected siloes across an organization, you can’t execute a holistic, synchronized customer experience. 

At worst, you risk creating fragmented experiences that frustrate and confuse patients and members. At best, you miss out on key opportunities to influence healthier behaviors and lower spend. 

Sound data management practices enable you to capture and maintain customer preferences, then send the right message in the right channel at the right time. It’s all about synchronizing the teams across your organization to create a data-driven customer-preferred communications strategy.  

A consolidated data warehouse puts everyone on the same page and gives you enormous insight to streamline and optimize every aspect of the customer experience. 

  1. Journey mapping and execution

Journey mapping involves strategically plotting each point of a goal-driven process to systematize your customer interactions. At each step on the journey, you can identify the relevant customer data that will inform the next interaction. 

You can do all of this in a way that requires no manual intervention or effort. Leading companies stand up an automated, streamlined, multi-tenant experience for each step in the journey.

Sometimes it’s useful to map the larger customer journey, from acquisition through renewal and beyond. Other times it’s advantageous to plot micro journeys. Insurers often create mini journeys for activities like plan selection, portal registration, account optimization, bill pay, and more. Other healthcare organizations create wellness journeys and journeys related to specific kinds of treatment or complex pharmaceuticals. 

Regardless of the approach, journey mapping promotes more holistic planning, which helps facilitate a more cohesive customer experience. 

  1. Relevant, personalized engagement

Finally, data-driven engagement empowers next-best-action triggers and contextually relevant customer interactions. 

In some cases, for example, you can’t ask customers to elect paperless bill pay until they’ve set up their account. So, communications should always tie back—and respond to—that specific point on the customer journey. 

More personalized communications also rely on granular customer data. Personalization doesn’t mean simply adding a name to an email salutation. Rather, it means creating richer, context-sensitive interactions that address the unique challenges—and opportunities—associated with that customer’s unique situation. 

Cost savings

By creating meaningful, relevant customer interactions, you can showcase your capacity to execute a compelling digital experience. Customers, in turn, will be more likely to trust you and opt for more. 

Customers want better digital experiences, but they don’t have confidence that companies can get it right. In fact, according to the 2021 Broadridge Communications CX survey, 59 percent of consumers say companies need to improve both their print and digital communications experiences. 

When digital communications are executed well, there’s massive opportunity to drive digital adoption, reduce print and mailing costs, and enable members to choose more cost-effective care. 

For example, we helped one company increase digital adoption from 8 to 36 percent in just 36 months by using customer data to implement an omni-channel communications strategy. In a similar vein, we helped a leading health plan save nearly one million dollars annually simply by using householding logic to consolidate mailings. Using available data in the right way can yield immediate dividends. 

Meaningful, rewarding journeys can also empower more cost-conscious healthcare decision making. For example, we’ve seen some health plans implement “Know before you go” journeys, encouraging members to consider urgent care, choose generics over prescriptions, and take advantage of price comparison tools. This ultimately saves the payer money while creating enormous value for the member. 

Member re-enrollment 

Customer acquisition is difficult and expensive, in large part because net-new members are mostly unknown. But with existing customers your biggest asset is their data. Successful organizations use existing customer data to create compelling re-enrollment journeys, proven to convert. 

For example, a healthcare company specializing in employee benefits reimagined their annual renewal process from the ground up. Their core strategy? Send communications that import real-time account data to show members their annual savings.    

The company built a full digital campaign using these communications—including email, SMS and digital ads. The results were immediate, driving an 8 percent renewal boost compared to the previous year.

Additionally, rewarding customer experiences also help increase trust and loyalty. So, it’s important to think beyond renewal season. If members and patients find genuine value from your communications throughout the year, and if those communications serve as a gateway to a hassle-free experience, they’ll be much more likely to choose you again.  

Better outcomes 

Finally, providers are creating more valuable experiences through treatment-specific care-based journeys. For example, we’re seeing many leading providers develop pre- and post-operation journeys, which use personalized timelines and metrics to point patients to resources and help with scheduling follow-up visits. Although it’s hard to make a clear link, there’s potential that these journeys could accelerate rehabilitation times. 

Post-discharge communications can help guide patients through the challenges associated with new medication schedules and rehabilitation procedures. Providers implementing targeted discharge journeys are finding reduced readmission rates and higher HCAHPS scores. 

Similarly, insurers can use member health data to craft personalized journeys toward healthier living. This is a particular promising area: Not only can you create value and improve your members’ lives, but there’s also opportunity to increase STARS and NPS scores.  

It starts with data 

We see so many companies seek to revamp their communications strategy, while ignoring their data strategy. No matter how creative or compelling your communications, the impact will always be muted by your data limitations. 

By contrast, if you can optimize access, use and data management across the organization, it will fundamentally transform your entire customer experience.  

Start with data. The rest will follow.

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.