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
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
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
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.”
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
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.