Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Communication Techniques for Health Plans & Healthcare Providers

source: consumerreports.com
Health plans and healthcare providers must communicate with their members and patients using messages that are easily interpreted, persuasive, and actionable. Key communication techniques that health plans and healthcare providers should consider using include tailoring, targeting, framing and using narratives.

Tailoring the Message
Tailoring involves creating a message for the member or patient recipient based on information known about the recipient.

Approaches to Tailoring Messages
1. Prepare a categorized list of messages that can be programmatically matched to inquiries made by patients based on the patient’s socio-economic status and key social determinants.

2. Implicitly or explicitly craft the message so the recipient understands it was meant for them and not just a generic message delivered to a group of individuals. i.e. go beyond simple personalization like “Dear Jane.”

3. Deliver messages to patients that incorporate aspects of their recent psychological or behavioral state(s) gleaned from previous exchanges with the patient.

Targeting the Message

Targeting involves designing a message based on recipient characteristics such as age, gender or sex, race, cultural background, language, and other “psychographic” characteristics such as a person’s attitudes about particular subject matter.

Approach to Targeting Messages:
1. Alter the verbiage, graphics, topical theme and other aspects of the message to make it more interesting, relevant, or appealing to specific subgroups.

Framing the Message
Framing is presenting information in a way that emphasizes recipient gain or loss based on how they respond to the message content.

Consideration for Framing Messages:
1. Ensure your message is associated with either an explicit positive consequence (gain) or an explicit negative consequence (loss) for patient/member non-compliance.

Positive (gain) frame: “Get active! Enhance your health!” vs. “A lack of activity increases risk for diabetes.

Negative (loss) frame: “With drug X, you have a 5% chance   of dying” vs. “With drug X, you have a 95% chance of surviving.”

Using Narratives
A narrative message elaborates on a series of connected events – one that includes specific details, characters, and a plot – and can serve to transport the recipient into a situation that can enhance their emotions, attitudes, and behaviors.

Considerations for Using Narratives:
1. Incorporate personal stories, anecdotes, and testimonials in the message.

2. Use ‘entertainment education’ (e.g., talking about an issue in a soap opera storyline) and photo novellas

Use More Than One Technique
Combining two or more of the above communication techniques into a message may be more effective than using just a single technique and increase member/patient comprehension and understanding of the message.

Other Communication Techniques
Other communication techniques such as applying plain language principles, varying the source of the evidence, and using theoretically driven messages can be considered best practices and are not included in summary.

Note: Some of the above was gleaned and summarized from “Communication and Dissemination Strategies To Facilitate the Use of Health-Related Evidence” published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality on 7/31/12.

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