Home Health Insurance Looking to Build Loyalty and Decrease Costs? Put your Member Portal to...

As a health insurer, your secure member portal is one of the primary means for your customers to engage with you digitally. Unfortunately, this experience isn’t always positive. We often hear this consistent refrain from our clients:

  • “How do we get people to use the portal?”
  • “What are the key functions we should focus on and invest in?”
  • “How do we leverage the portal for real customer engagement?”

When we talk about payer member portals at Tahoe Partners, we focus on two core goals: 1) increasing customer loyalty and 2) decreasing payer costs. Done correctly, most member portal initiatives can achieve both these goals simultaneously. Delightful digital customer experiences build trust, improve service, and reduce calls to the customer call center, leading to decreased service costs. What are the keys to achieving these results?

Simplify the onboarding process to get users into the portal. First, remove the barriers to getting users registered – whether that means auto-registration based on enrollment or a single sign-on through a company intranet, keeping it simple and automated is critical. Make education part of the onboarding process so that members understand the value that the portal provides.

Provide clear, concise information. Insurance is confusing, and much of what’s presented on the portal will be complex in both language and concept to most people. Focus on simplifying the information provided and developing interactive visual components. Make sure that material is intuitive to how the USER experiences their insurance – rather than insurer processes. Eliminate insurance jargon whenever possible, and keep terminology in user-based language. Content should be written at the 6th grade level, and smart use of video and other multimedia can help to make complicated information digestible. Keep the interface visually clean and avoid clutter that can distract users from focusing on key data.

Provide accurate data. Nothing is more confusing to the user than mixed messages. Data provided digitally should not contradict data provided in paper format. If the paper-based EOB states that a member may owe $200, the electronic version of that EOB or the claim detail displayed should show the same – or demonstrate the differences and provide a clear explanation why.

Personalize the experience. This is one of the rare times that possessing and leveraging user data doesn’t seem creepy. Your members know you know all about them – it’s time to prove it. Personalize content and data based on plan, member type (subscriber vs. dependent), group/individual consumer, on-exchange/off-exchange, gender, health needs and life events. Whenever possible, manage the experience to get smarter based on the actions performed by the user. Take advantage of up-to-date content management tools that enable personalization and marketing/business-based content updates to avoid reliance on IT or a portal “release”. Build in the flexibility required to allow for rapid content changes and dynamic content maintenance.

Be where your users are. Creating a mobile member portal experience is not optional. This is not a mirror image of the web experience – content should be streamlined, and activities focused around mobile. There should be an option to access the full site, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to tap into the unique characteristics of a smartphone, such as geolocation, in order to improve the user experience.

Be transparent. Transparency tools are not just an ACA requirement. They help to educate members and create smarter consumers. Make sure your users can answer these questions from your member portal:

  • Am I covered?
  • How much will this cost?
  • Which providers can I go to? Who is in my network? (But please don’t use the word providers – your members don’t know what exactly that means.)
  • How good is this provider – in terms of both cost and quality?

Make it easy to pay. Can you create the Amazon 1-Click experience for your members? Bills must be easy to understand and simple to pay electronically. Enable provider bill pay integration – InstaMed has an option that will allow users to pay providers right off the electronic EOB!

Know when it’s time to change the channel: When the digital channel can no longer support the member’s needs, make sure that it’s a seamless transition to another channel. If the user does need to make a phone call, the customer service representative on the other end should have as much information as possible about what that user has been doing and what drove the call. Users expect their insurer to know who they are and what they’ve been doing – and to pick up where they left off online.

When executed well, improvements in these areas will lead to real results in customer loyalty and call/cost reduction. We’ve seen clients experience numbers as high as 59% real call reduction (based on customer surveys) driven by member portal improvements. Are you ready to realize these kinds of gains? Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we take a closer look at these keys to a successful member portal.

This post is the first in Tahoe’s series on digital strategy and secure customer/member portals. Up next, we’ll discuss customer experience and engagement, key features and functions, content strategies, and how to make the portal a more strategic tool in an overall digital strategy. Something else you’d like to learn about? Leave a question or suggestion below!

Amy brings twenty years of experience in delivering high-impact, high-value digital solutions, and her innovative thinking has helped numerous health insurers dramatically improve customer engagement. Amy has a long track record of helping clients navigate the consumerization of healthcare - and a long record on the track running half marathons and other hard-core races.

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