Health Plan Professionals Survey: Member Retention and Onboarding Initiatives Are Growing in Importance

survey findings data

In 2024 health plan professionals face significant shifts in industry priorities. Medicare Advantage star ratings are anticipated to decline and there’s an increased focus on health equity. To find out how health plans are coping with these and other challenges, Engagys conducted its eighth annual Survey of Healthcare Consumer Engagement Practices.

Survey participants are U.S. health plan professionals responsible for engagement and communication. Forty nine percent of respondents are directors, and 13% include C-level executives and vice presidents. Survey questions include topics surrounding departmental focus, initiatives and budgets, consumer engagement strategies, factors that impede success, key measures, and health equity.

The key findings from the Healthcare Consumer Engagement Practices survey include:

A return to addressing risk and care after Covid:

Survey participants reported an increase in the time and effort that health plan professionals dedicated to member experience, population health, and onboarding retention as compared to 2022. Health plans’ focus on population health issues has been increasing over the past several years, facing a slight dip in 2020 with the pandemic, but continuing a steady increase from 2021.

Budgets show slight downturns after years of growth:

Over half of participants report that their department's budgets are growing. This is a slight decrease from the previous year. The majority of those who reported a budget increase (78.9%) also report that more attention is focused on their department compared to the previous year.

Email is the preferred channel for consumer engagement strategy:

Email was the most used channel in 2023; however, email success rate has decreased 27% as compared to the previous year. The tactics that improved the most in terms of success rate were incentives and coordinating with physicians.

Collaboration with providers is a top focus:

As compared to 2022, 60% more respondents report an increase in focus on acting on SDoH needs or unmet Health-Related Social Needs (HRSNs) and 45% on increasing collaboration with providers. On the other hand, member portal and expanding/enhancing member services have decreased in priority.

Clinical outcomes were the most important measure in 2023:

Clinical outcomes was the top response for how health executives are measuring the success of their consumer engagement programs, with an increase of 36% from the previous year. NPS/consumer satisfaction also increased while cost as a measure of success decreased by a whopping 67%.

Most health plans are starting to identify sources of data to help address health equity:

Health plans have taken the first step in addressing health equity, by identifying sources of data within and/or outside the organization. Now they need to use the data they collected to make a difference in consumers' lives. Learn how with Engagys’ Approach to Driving Behavior Change.

The survey findings reveal important goals for 2024

Member experience excellence requires a greater emphasis on digitalization and collaboration between plans and providers. To adapt to new demand, health plans will need to do more to understand their members starting with the collection of health equity data so that SDoH barriers can be better addressed. Enabling electronic data collection and integration will assist in this initiative.

Plans that are just beginning to address SDoH barriers and HRSNs should first focus on collecting and aggregating data on their populations. Only then should they embark on health equity initiatives. The new health equity index in stars measures creates a powerful incentive to elevate this to a business imperative. Additionally, plans need to continue strengthening their relationships with providers. New stars measures will require greater collaboration and data sharing. Not surprisingly, many large plans have recently made significant investments in provider networks they control. Lastly, it's time to come full circle and emphasize clinical measures, including readmissions and the HOS-reported measures, and changes in mental and physical health. They are back in the stars score and will be going to triple weights, so now is the time to start working on how to identify members at risk of having trouble and developing systems to intervene.

Download the Healthcare Consumer Engagement Practices ebook to see all the health plan professionals survey findings and analysis.

Jack Newsom
  • Jack Newsom

During a 25-year career in healthcare, Dr. Newsom has specialized in building teams focused on improving consumer engagement with an emphasis on integrating communications, analytics, and delivery. At Engagys, Dr. Newsom continues the practice of using analytics to drive better health outcomes and improve the results of consumer communications. Additionally, he has led the Healthcare Consumer Engagement Practices survey since its inception in 2017. As Chief Program Officer at Caravan Health, Dr. Newsom lead a team of more than 40 professionals across analytics, quality, events, content management, and delivery to help practices succeed in accountable care frameworks. Prior to that, he created the analytics functions at Silverlink Communications and CenseoHealth. Dr. Newsom holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics, Master of Business Administration, and Master of Science in Clinical Evaluative Science from Dartmouth College, as well as a Doctor of Science in Health Services Research from Boston University where he taught at the School of Public Health for five years.