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Beyond surveys: Why health plans need real-time member insights to stay ahead

In the ever-changing world of health insurance, understanding member needs and their unique experiences is critical. It’s key for growth and retention, and even driving your affordability agenda. But many health plans still lean too heavily on older member survey methodologies that prevent them from evaluating pain points and tracking moments that matter.

Health plan member surveys: Then and now

Member surveys are a fixture in the health insurance sector—and have been for a long time. They’re leveraged to evaluate quality and execute specific market research needs. They're simple, and have been incredibly effective for some of the more traditional goals. But they may not fully capture the in-the-moment needs of members and, as such, impede a health plan’s growth and experience objectives.

One drawback of traditional surveys is that it takes a lot of time to gather and look at the data. When results are ready, the data might already be irrelevant. The needs and experiences of health plan members are ever dynamic and continually shifting. A delay in gathering and understanding the information implies that health plans are always playing catch-up—responding to dated insights, instead of meeting members where they are in real time.

Traditional surveys are limited in the type of data they can collect. They too often depend on members’ self-reported experiences, which can be prone to recall bias. Health plan survey response rates have also dwindled over the years, limiting desired sampling and n-sizes.

The need for real-time member insights

In our fast-paced world of data, health plans need to be continuously listening as members traverse the complex healthcare landscape. Real-time member insights can provide a more current and accurate view of member needs and experiences. This helps health plans not only stay on top of ever-changing experiences, but also, more importantly, understand if the changes they are making are having a tangible impact.

Outdated feedback can result in missed opportunities for growth, retention, and improved net promoter scores (NPS). When health plans use old data, they're making decisions based on past conditions and may miss key windows to double-down on activities and new initiatives that may be working—or, vice-versa, quickly stop a new program that’s demonstrably not working.

Obtaining real-time feedback can help health plans find issues early and fix them before they escalate into problems. This proactive, forward-thinking approach can help health plans close the inner loop quickly—sometimes even turning negative experiences into positive ones.

With real-time insights, a health plan can address an issue before it’s replicated across multiple members’ experiences. For example, using a web intercept, a health plan might see that members are struggling to use the online portal to find a specific provider type in a certain region. They can then prioritize this fix with their digital product team before others encounter the problem, resulting in fewer incoming calls, reduced costs, and, overall, an improved digital experience.

Continuous listening: The path to improving health plan experiences

How can health plans move beyond traditional surveys? They need to capture real-time insights through a continuous listening platform designed to tune in to members from end-end, across their healthcare journey. 

Continuous listening means collecting and analyzing member feedback in the moment—at any interaction. It’s ongoing, via both active and passive listening, and comes from various channels, including digital surveys, social channels, and online reviews, among others. It's not just about leveraging feedback quickly to address an immediate need with a particular member. It’s also about understanding if new themes are starting to bubble up.

Gathering insights in real time can help shape the strategy of what plans should work on, both from a day-to-day operations standpoint as well as a long-term planning. By seeing trends in member behavior, noting the prevalence or frequency of any experience, and understanding the impact of, or difference between positive and negative experiences, health plans can see the bigger picture, and prioritize initiatives that will matter most. This approach takes a more proactive and strategic effort, which can lead to faster change and meaningful improvement.

Ditch the guesswork with real-time member insights

The shift to real-time member insights isn’t a trend. It’s a needed—and welcome—change in healthcare. It's about moving from reacting to acting. It's about shifting from a static to a dynamic view of the member experience. And, in the end, it's about giving members the best experience to support them in their healthcare journey and help all members live healthier lives.

That's truly a goal worth aiming for. 

For more improving the member experience, join Press Ganey's webinar on April 30. Our experts will explore how health plans can move beyond traditional surveys to harness real-time member insights. Register here. 

To learn more about Press Ganey’s continuous listening solutions and health plan member platform, reach out to a member of our team, and we’ll be in touch. 

About the author

David Shapiro is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Member Experience, where he leads a team dedicated to advancing solutions, analytics, and insights aimed at enhancing the quality, experience, and retention of health plan members. With a 25-year career marked by a focus on health plan member experience, David’s successful track record includes significantly improving consumer and provider satisfaction, net promoter scores (NPS), and Star Ratings during his leadership at UnitedHealthcare as Chief Experience Officer. His broad skillset spans consumer and provider experience, managed care experience strategy, engagement marketing, consumer data, and customer relationship management.

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