Virtually anyone in today’s digital society lives a life inundated by messages. Much of it comes in the form of advertising and promotion delivered via web pages, emails and text messages – the vast majority of which we simply ignore or delete…unread. These include immeasurable spam, most of which is intercepted by our service providers and filters even before we even see it. In a sense, our brains are full-time filters, constantly and quickly deciding what’s worth our attention, and what’s not. We do this in nanoseconds…and we do it all day long.
Of course, there are important messages buried in this constant barrage, and we innately know to be “on the lookout” for those stand-outs. So, what is it that differentiates these messages from everything else…from the “noise”? Bottom line, it’s what we call “Tailoring”. Tailoring is what puts the message in a context that “fits” for the recipient, whether it’s the branding, the sender’s URL or domain, the messaging channel, or simply the content of the message. Good Tailoring increases the likelihood that the message gets through our filters (either mechanical or mental) … and grabs our attention.
It’s kind of like when you’re sorting through the daily snail mail. The “or current resident” flyers and bulk mail envelopes that have zero personalization get almost no attention, but a handwritten envelope gets opened. That’s Tailoring at it’s most basic level. When it comes to patient engagement, we think about Tailoring in the following terms:
- Branding. Is the message branded (logo, colors, font, “look and feel”) in a way that is recognizable to the recipient? For a single health care payer, that branding might not be universal. For example, your Medicare business segment might brand itself differently than the Individual Policy or Commercial Group segments. Using the branding that the recipient will recognize is important.
- Channel. Individual preferences vary when it comes to message channel (i.e., how the message is delivered). Some people live by text only, some prefer email, some prefer a phone call. When such preferences exist, ignoring them can be like knocking on the wrong door. A system that recognizes these preferences and leverages the optimal channel for each patient will enhance engagement.
- Language. If you know the member has a non-English language preference (Spanish, Vietnamese, French Creole), and you implement it, you’ve not only increased the odds that the recipient will read that message, you’ve also shown a commitment and a consideration that buys goodwill and trust. That’s engagement!
- Context. The more the message is about the recipient, the more engaging the recipient will find the message. By inserting context clues that make the message about the person, the more they’ll pay attention. Remember, our brains are always looking for reasons to filter things out. Making it personal gives us a reason to stay focused. Think about these two versions of a “flu shot” message:
- Version 1. “It’s flu season, so if you haven’t done it already please remember to get your flu shot.” Worth sending? Maybe, but it’s “one-size -fits-all”, and many of us will ignore that message and tell ourselves that “it’s for someone else…not me”.
- Version 2. “Hi John, it’s flu season, and being a 65-year old with a history of chronic bronchitis, the risk of flu is elevated for you. Please click the attached link for a map showing free flu shot locations near your home.” Don’t you think this one gets a greater response?
The benefits of tailoring the message are clear. The challenge is that tailoring requires the ability to take a group of targeted patients and make sure they each get the correct, personalized, version of the message – tailored for them.
This requires a system that can do the following things before generating the message to the patient:
- Target a group of patients that meet clinical criteria to warrant a particular message (e.g., patients that need a flu shot reminder)
- Sub-divide that group into individual sub-groups by using a variety of demographic attributes and other logic
- Allow the user to apply different channel, message formatting, and message content to each of the intervention sub-groups
- Inject or merge individual data elements (like a name, drug name, or other relevant information) to personalize the message content
With tools like these, a health plan can tailor its messages to members in ways that not only accommodate the member’s preferences (which increases both engagement and goodwill), but also make the message more relevant and personal – which really makes it “stick”. With messaging, “stickier” is better. “Tailor” those messages.
Can your messaging platform do that? Ours can, please contact us to learn more!
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