Report: Most health plans are struggling to provide a coherent online experience for members

Report: Most health plans are struggling to provide a coherent online experience for members

The health insurance industry has historically suffered from low rates of customer satisfaction and loyalty. A new report suggests that health plans are doing little to improve their standing with consumers, and that depends on insurance officials themselves admitting their failure.

The Report, released Wednesday by customer engagement firm Smart Communications, surveyed 119 health insurance executives during February and March. It has found that the digital experiences that health insurers provide to their members are disjointed because insurers prioritize speed to market over usability.

Failure to consider ease of use has forced many members of health plans to opt for offline channels for customer service. Health Plan executives acknowledged that their digital experiences often create more questions than answers, and agreed that the frustration members feel when using these online tools has led to an increase in customer support calls. However, the report cited Forrester research showing that more than half of health plan members are dissatisfied with their phone interactions.

Member experiences continue to be suboptimal, in part because insurance companies fail to track members’ online journeys from start to finish. Less than 40% of insurers track metrics during the trip and the end of the trip, indicating that insurers don’t understand what members think a successful online experience looks like.

At the end of online member journeys, about a third of health plans said they track how often members contact about an issue, and the degree of customer effort and retention. Insurance companies focus on metrics on showing that they fail to measure moments in a member’s online experience and focus instead on end-of-journey outcomes.

Some insurance companies believe that their lack of visibility into customers’ online journeys may negatively impact their business metrics. 47% of health plans said they don’t track members’ feelings enough to understand their feelings while they participate in digital experiences, and 48% of plans said they don’t have the data to understand how frustrated members are with these experiences. Impact on key performance metrics.

Most health plans have expressed an interest in improving online member engagement. However, the report shows that they may be avoiding hard work Essential to interact with members and instead focus on goals that are easy to achieve.

For example, over the next three years, health plans said they intended to improve Digital experiences for members by focusing primarily on the following three areas: integration of applications and systems (68%), centralization of preference management to ensure members are reached through their preferred channel (65%), and improving language clarity in communications (59%).

However, rather than focusing on the low-key, insurers should direct their efforts toward initiatives that will create seamless and easy-to-understand online journeys for their customers, the report urged.

Some health plans have started upending the ship. For example, Blue Cross and Blue Shield from Minnesota partners With Castlight Health on Wednesday to launch a care navigation solution for its customers, which aims to simplify members’ digital experiences by providing access to all of their health information in one online location.

Efforts like those pursued by BCBS in Minnesota must follow sooner rather than later, according to James Brown, CEO of Smart Communications. He noted that giving members more personal and relevant online experience would help insurance companies build trust and loyalty among their customers.

Photo: Alexei Naumov, Getty Images

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