Critical Insights for Effective Health Care Communications

 

Critical Insights for Effective Health Care Communications

According to experts specializing in language and language testing to help clients sell a product or sway public opinion, a key point to note is that it's not what's said, it's what employees hear about health benefits changes.  In fact, it is critical for employers to choose words that are effective and resonate with the workforce to earn employee support for more cost-conscious and waste-reducing health care decision making. When it comes to effectively engaging employees, polling data brings out several key points.

Trust

Employers should understand the world view of their employees. Fearful Americans are more likely to have distrust of leaders and employers. However, when it comes to employer distrust, 51% of Americans identified ethical business practices as what would most likely lead them to be distrusting.

Priorities

Employers should be aware of employee personal priorities and highlight this awareness in health care benefit and benefit change messages. Americans responded as follows when asked about personal priorities:

* More money (men)

* More time (women)

* More choices

* Less hassles

Employee-Driven Choices

Some experts prefer the term "employee-driven" to "consumer-driven" because employee-driven highlights the employer relationship instead of denoting a purely dollar relationship. Employees favor more personal control over health care decisions, which can be a selling point for employee-driven changes, but they don't look favorably on cost shifting.

As demonstrated by research showing a 51% negative outcome by Fortune 500 employees to an employer saying "positive changes in our benefits" were made, Americans don't want surprises; they want predictability and stability. So, employers need to show how a change will bring less bureaucracy and hassle. An employer should demonstrate the increase in predictability and simplicity and barrier reduction that comes with shifting decision-making to employees.

Complaints

* Monthly premium costs

* High co-pays

* Plan confusion

The above are common complaints about health care plans. Employers shouldn't just make meaningless assertions. Instead, they should create value with numbers and emphasize that employee-driven plans are easier to comprehend and can have lower premiums. Furthermore, employees should hear the reasoning behind why it matters. It is also important to note that unsustainable health care spending only results in higher premiums and the business having a less secure position.

Desires

Polls show that employees desire the following factors when it comes to their health care coverage:

* Company commitment to provide health care

* Be viewed as humans, not numbers

* Trust in treatment availability, without delays like prior authorization

* Doctor-patient relationship protection

* Decrease triggers (such as abuse, waste and fraud) of higher cost

Essentially, employees want access to their doctor, their hospital, and the ability to afford both. Employees also want a sense of control, which relates to trust that their coverage will be there and predictability and stability in the insurance provider not denying needed services.

Communication And Presentation

Polls clearly show that communication and presentation matter, and that past popularity doesn't equate to current popularity. Polls from just five years ago showed that a booklet was the number one response on preferred delivery of health care information. However, a recent poll showed only 26% still favoring a handout or booklet and 51% preferring email or online delivery. Employers should be aware that:

* Most employees don't want or read verbose text. Effectiveness comes from a brief, simple, consistent, and credible message that isn't presented in a patronizing manner.

* Employees are 60% more apt to read a page with a health care applicable graphic.

* Question and answer style formats work best.

* The message should always be positive.

Polls are clear – employee trust, personal priorities, choice, desires, common complaints, and employer presentation and communication all matter when it comes to health benefit changes.

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