Healthcare Retention

Retention in healthcare has become an emerging focus.  With the initial land grab for Medicare lives over, it is more and more important to retain them.  Focusing on new lives is becoming harder.  And, with one of the few green fields out there being individual lives, retention will continue to be a business driver for the next decade (or until we move to a single payor system).

Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no silver bullet.  But, this is clearly the time to act.  Figure out what works.  Set your baseline.  Learn from the consumer, customer, patient, or member.

I recently gave a webcast on this topic, and without giving away anything proprietary, I thought I would share some cliff notes.  If interested, feel free to contact me for the content or even to learn more about our retention solution.

  • Retention is a journey from employee satisfaction to customer satisfaction to loyalty and ultimately retention.
  • There are many different types of loyalty – price, programmatic, experience, and relationship.  (Forrester Research)
  • There are many lessons to be learned from outside the industry on the value of retention, how to measure retention, and what drives it.
  • A data centric approach to learning and understanding your consumers is critical path.
  • There are some basic programs emerging as foundational.
  • Health plans unfortunately start by having to build trust.
  • One way to build trust is to demonstrate that you are looking out for the best interest of the patient.
  • Your brand is affected by all the constituents in the delivery chain.
  • Price and product are the obvious drivers of satisfaction, but there are others.
  • The most satisfied are not always those with the lowest price.  (There is a great example of this in another industry.)
  • Your healthy members are the most likely to disenroll.
  • Satisfaction varies by condition.
  • There is a big difference in likelihood to renew between someone that scores you in the top box (i.e., 10 out of 10).

Lots more to come on this topic.

2 Responses to “Healthcare Retention”

  1. George Van Antwerp Reply May 3, 2008 at 8:06 am

    As always, Frederick provides some great commentary on my post. Let me continue the dialogue.

    First, I do think there are different types of retention. Some people shop for price. Others shop for experience. Others shop for service. This is true in healthcare as in other product areas. Plans have to demonstrate value, but value has many different meanings.

    It is unfortunate that health plans have to build trust because they should have established trust historically by working in the best interest of their members and patients. The fact that they are starting in a hole is a shame.

    I agree that health plans ignore the healthy so they should act differently to address that. They can work to summarize value and deliver information about ancillary benefits – e.g., gym memberships. Obviously, a plan that only had health members would be the most profitable, but that’s not likely. So, without adverse selection, plans should act to be preventative with their sick patients to manage them. An unmanaged diabetic is much more expensive than a managed diabetic.

    It’s a good point on satisfaction. You probably want to compare satisfaction of chronic patients to other chronic patients versus healthy members.

    Since people view their experience through the lens of their disease, it is important to understand why cancer patients are typically the happiest and asthmatics are the least happy. What does that tell us about how we treat them and the benefit design.

    To me data centric is the core of developing a 1:1 model for patient care. If I don’t understand their conditions, their preferences, their historical responses, then how can I develop a custom experience for them.

  2. Retention will naturally occur when you demonstrate value (i.e., a good product, solving problems, having friendly exchanges, a good working environment, and a fair trade of wages for work). I’m not sure that’s a journey from this, then to this, then to that.

    Why is it unfortunate that health plans have to start by building trust? We all have to do that. If a customer comes to you for information about your products, you have to build trust. Why should health plans be any different?

    Healthy members disenroll from health plans faster than sick ones because health plans ignore the healthy ones. They focus on the sick ones. For a healthy member, a health plan is just a huge debit from his or her paycheck or checking account each month—and that’s it. The last thing a health plan should do is prove to “patients” that they are looking out for their interests. No. “Patients” are expensive. A health plan should prove to members who are not patients that they are looking out for their interests. That’s where the money is. The health plan that learns to create the best “unpatient” satisfaction will win.

    When you talk about raising satisfaction among health plan members, you better be clear on the implications. The most satisfied health plan members are those with the highest claims. I can prove this.

    Satisfaction varies by conditions. So what do health plans do to increase diabetes satisfaction versus congestive heart failure satisfaction? How about focusing on the people first?

    Data centric? I thought this health blog was “patient centric”? A data centric approach to improving customer loyalty is only as valuable as its ability to tell you how you to meet the customer’s health values and priorities now and into the future. The danger of becoming data centric is that you stop being patient centric.

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