Why your generic messaging platform is failing

If you have ever subscribed to an email list, whether purposely or accidentally, you know the pain of seeing irrelevant messages pile up in your inbox. They keep coming like waves on the shore, yet most go unread and straight to the deleted file.

The problem normally is that even if the sender uses the typical level of targeting, the message that ends up in your inbox is still far too general to be of much interest, especially when there are dozens more just like it. But what if, instead of carrying a general message, the email contained exactly the information you wanted or needed at that time?

Most mailing lists you join don’t have enough data on you to make their messages timely and relevant. But health plans have piles and piles of data on their members, most of which goes underutilized.

Instead of keeping it locked away like money in a bank vault, health plans should be taking advantage of that data to create hyper-targeted messages that their members will find valuable and actionable rather than just part of the noise.

Knowing which message to send – and not send

The message you don’t send can be as important as the message you do send. Being able to edit out counterproductive messages is an important function of any messaging platform.

Take breast care screening patients as an example. While standard metrics may simply look for women of certain ages who have not had a screening recently, it is both smarter and more productive to exclude women who have already undergone a bilateral mastectomy.

This avoids a painful interaction with a member who now knows that their health plan doesn’t actually know anything about the care they’re receiving of about their situation, and does a poor job of record-keeping. It also makes it less likely that person will open future messages – even when they are highly relevant.

Selecting members only by generic criteria such as gender and age also ignores others who may need screening, such as otherwise healthy 25-year-old women with a family history of breast cancer – especially those with certain genetic markers. Delivering a message to them that explains the urgency of why they should come in for a screening (even though they may seem to fall outside the general guidelines) can be a huge difference-maker in those members’ lives.

Instead of sending the same generic message to each, the ability to hyper-target a mailing list enables health plans to create and send very specific messages that convey the proper information to each population. Only conveying the information that person specifically needs (rather than using one message to cover all bases) also helps keep messages shorter – which is important given our ever-shortening attention spans.

Improving the member experience

Finally, sending generic messages does little to build the customer relationship between health plans and their members. Messages that contain a lot of general information don’t exactly scream “We care about you.”

But taking the time to build a message that addresses the member’s specific situation, such as following diabetes care for people with serious mental illness by giving them useful information about how to complete their care? Now, that makes an impression.

We’ve all experienced the pain of watching email messages we couldn’t care less about piling up in our inboxes. And we all know what we think about the companies who keep sending them.

Don’t let your organization be one of them. By taking advantage of technology that enables you to hyper-target your messages you’ll be able to deliver only what’s relevant and important to each member at the exact right time, adding value to your member relationships while also improving outcomes and reducing costs. It’s a win for everyone.

Robert S. Oscar, R.Ph.
CEO/ President, RxEOB
Robert Oscar has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare. Throughout much of his career Mr. Oscar has developed and implemented successful programs to effectively manage pharmacy benefit risk, including pioneering work in the Medicare HMO market. Before founding RxEOB, Mr. Oscar worked in the medical information systems industry-designing, developing and implementing several different claims analysis tools. Previously, Mr. Oscar also served as Clinical Coordinator for Maxicare/HealthAmerica of Ohio, where he helped develop one of the nation’s first outpatient pharmacy formularies. Mr. Oscar was Director of Outpatient & Contract Pharmacy Services for Bon Secours Health Systems. Mr. Oscar, a Registered Pharmacist licensed in Virginia, is a graduate of Ohio Northern University, and is certified in pharmacy-based immunization. Robert is active in several professional groups including the National Council on Prescription Drug Programs, and the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. He is married, has two daughters, enjoys reading and volunteers with the Henrico County Medical Response Corps with a special interest in community immunization programs and infant mortality prevention.

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