This sponsored article was written by Melissa Welling, Editor at Coffey Communications. Coffey is a leading full-service healthcare marketing firm with deep industry expertise. We help hospitals, health systems and health insurance companies grow their brands and create content that makes an impact.
Health insurance marketers need content that can do it all: It has to help consumers navigate their benefits. It has to fulfill state and federal laws that mandate communicating on certain topics and in certain ways. It has to help drive CAHPS, HEDIS and other industry scores in a positive direction. And it has to give providers information that will help them give care in a cost-effective way.
But if you start your content plan with a laser focus on those urgent needs, you might miss an even more pressing one. According to a 2016 Harris Poll, only 16% of consumers think health insurance companies put people before profits.
That's a trust issue. And chances are, the past four years of contentious healthcare debate haven't improved their outlook.
Building trust should be the driving force behind all your healthcare content—on your website, on your social media accounts, in your e-newsletters and in print.
That doesn't mean ignoring those other urgent needs. Instead, turn them into trust-building opportunities like these.
An opportunity to show respect
State or federal requirements to communicate at a certain reading level, in preferred languages and in formats that are accessible to people with disabilities aren't a burden. They're an opportunity to show members you respect them.
Providing content that's written in an easy-to-understand way tells members that you're not just checking a box. You care about their ability to participate in their own health care.
When planning your content, think proactively about how it will work in other languages, in nonvisual or non-audible formats, and at a low reading level. This can help you avoid the kind of frustrations that arise when accessibility is an afterthought.
And don’t abandon these principles when communicating with providers. Even highly educated doctors will appreciate a simple read that respects their time and helps them give better care to their patients.
An opportunity to provide practical help
If your plan for communicating about benefits is to copy-paste from the member handbook, you're missing a couple of key opportunities.
The first is the chance to put complex concepts (like how a deductible works or the advantages of staying in a network) into plain terms and real-life scenarios that will help members understand them better. Breaking things down in a clear way shows members you're on their side: You want to help them save money and make full use of their benefits.
The other opportunity here is to show them how their benefits can remove barriers. For instance, when you're trying to increase your plan’s childhood immunization scores, it's not only about sending members the message that vaccines save lives. Think about where your readers are coming from—sometimes quite literally. Are they in a rural community far from primary care clinics? That’s a good time to highlight solutions—like mobile clinics, transportation benefits and other services—that can help them overcome real obstacles.
Showing your awareness of their reality is an important part of earning their trust.
An opportunity to be human
Hospitals are masters of the human-interest story. Reading about how someone's life was transformed by a caring team of providers is powerful stuff. But not many health plans embrace this kind of storytelling.
You might think that's because you're not on the front lines of care. But you are. Your customer service team, your wellness coaches, your nurse advice line, your network of providers—they all have stories to tell. And approached in the right way, your members can help tell those stories.
They can talk about how a wellness coach helped them stop smoking. Or how a transportation program keeps them engaged in their community. Or the time a caring customer service rep helped them navigate a health crisis with empathy.
It's easy for consumers to forget that an insurance company is made up of people—people who care about other people. You have the power to remind them of that.
Embrace the challenge
Making these human connections is where trust begins. In The Trusted Advocate, authors David H. Maister, Charles H. Green and Robert M. Galford note that trust is “highly personal”: “I will trust you if you exhibit some form of caring, if you provide some evidence that my interests are as important to you as your own interests are.”
The challenge for health insurance marketers is to demonstrate authentic caring throughout their content. Those that do will take the first step toward building a lasting trust.