The first step Medicaid managed care organizations need to take to deliver care to their members seems simple. They need to connect with members and engage them to be active in their health. 

Often that is more challenging than it sounds. It is a common refrain: Medicaid members are difficult to engage with. But many members may have different challenges, and that means trying a different approach. 

  1. Try the Smartphone

Many plans try to reach members through traditional phone calls, but that approach may be becoming less and less effective. The Washington Post reported that robocalls to cell phones increased by 45% in 2018, plausibly crowding out legitimate calls and making it more difficult to reach members with a phone call. Voicemails may be less effective as well as Millennials are less likely to even set up a voicemail than ever before. 

Texting, however, has continued to increase in popularity, with the average American adult texting more than 30 times per day. Text messages also have an exceptionally high read rate. 

The rate of cell phone ownership in the Medicaid population is almost 90%. This may solve some of the historical problems with outreach to transient members as cell phone numbers typically do not change like landline phone numbers and physical addresses.

So, it is time to try leveraging the smartphone for outreach and engagement. 

Take Text4Baby, for example. The maternal and child health program uses text messaging and an app to connect pregnant women with health care through Medicaid. As a result of the program:

  • 63% said Text4Baby helped them remember an appointment,
  • 47% reported they connected with health services,
  • 77% reported opening links from the program.
  1. Offer Incentives

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study entitled, A structured review of the effect of economic incentives on consumers’ preventive behavior. Basically, they wanted to know: do incentives work?

The research included a review of 47 trials of incentives to encourage preventative care. The researchers found that incentives worked 73% of the time to encourage preventive care like vaccinations, prenatal care, and weight loss programs.

Buckeye Health Plan offers a My Health Pays Rewards Program for its members. The plan rewards members for taking healthy actions, like getting a flu shot or certain checkups and health screenings, and then funds a debit card the member can use to buy the things they need. 

  1. Engage in Community Outreach

Sometimes, to overcome barriers, you need to be where people live, work, and play. An active and engaged Community Outreach Department can reach members who would otherwise be difficult to connect with. Here are some key community outreach activities.

  • Set Up Community Office Hours and Satellite Offices

Could visibility and a friendly face help you reach more members? Setting up offsite office hours can help reach members where they are comfortable. 

  • Engage in Community Events

Invest in the community and build trust with members and community leaders by sponsoring and participating in important community events, like parades, fairs, school events, and church activities.

  • Give Back

Understand community needs and provide support. The CDC says that the social determinants of health have an impact on members. It just makes sense to support social services that will improve their overall wellness.