Patient Engagement
Clip
“Benefits Couldn’t Be More Confusing If We Tried” (04:05)

“There are a lot of challenges as we think about the current world of benefits design and how the consumer experience is,” says Patient Engagement Lead Advisor Kevin Volpp, who discussed the value of benefits design with Wendy Wood and David Kirchhoff.

“If you get a 100+ page description of what’s in your health benefits, it’s pretty likely you’re not going to really understand it that well and you’re not going to know what you’re being incented to do and what you’re not being incented to do. I think the clear implication of that is that we need to make benefit designs much simpler,” Volpp says. He discusses a health plan he and colleagues David Laibson and George Loewenstein worked on for Humana, in which patients were offered a one-and-a-half page list of medical services, broken up into five tiers of pricing.

Kirchhoff illustrates how difficult it must be for the average person trying to figure out health benefits by explaining how, upon leaving Weight Watchers, he had to sign up for his own coverage. “I’d like to think I knew something, just a little bit about insurance, because I worked at a company that was self-insured — we had benefits meetings and everything else,” Kirchhoff says. “And when I was faced with a screen of picking my plan, it was completely incomprehensible.”

“I have to believe that the average person who’s never had to deal with this on any kind of regular basis, looks at these things and they just have absolutely no idea what we’re talking about. I mean, we could not be any more confusing if we tried,” he adds.

So what can be done? Focus on outcome indicators, says Wood. She describes how businesses improve their brand image through successful health plan outcomes such as exercise and weight loss programs, charity events, and more. Health care organizations, she says, can model this behavior, and improve their brand image by advocating for peoples’ health. “There are lots of things that you can do to differentiate yourself as a health care provider that offers value,” Wood says.

From the NEJM Catalyst event Patient Engagement: Behavioral Strategies for Better Health at the University of Pennsylvania, February 25, 2016.

More From Patient Engagement

Shared Decision-Making for Good Clinical Care: Better, but Not Easier

Active patient involvement and patient autonomy can be burdensome to patients, especially when they are faced with serious illness. The primary goal of shared decision-making is not autonomy, but good care that fits patients’ lives.

The Patient as Consumer and the Measurement of Bedside Manner

Many physicians do not believe patient satisfaction is a legitimate pursuit. Yet they must meet consumers of health care where they are — on Internet ratings sites.

Health Care — A Final Frontier for Design

Design must move beyond narrow projects and encompass complex systems.

Halpern02_clip_still: A/B Testing Health Behavior Interventions

A/B Testing Health Behavior

Health care can’t implement changes overnight like Silicon Valley, but we can still learn from their version of treatment and control.

Social Interventions Can Lower Costs and Improve Outcomes

We can better serve our under-resourced patients by helping them access treatments and social interventions we already know to be effective.

Better Communication Makes Better Physicians

How Adrienne Boissy and Cleveland Clinic are focusing on physician communication — and getting results.

Why Real-World Results Are So Challenging for Digital Health

User engagement outside of clinical trials is the critical factor.

Transparency and Trust — Online Patient Reviews of Physicians

Transparency of validated data about delivery-system performance has the power to change the culture of health care.

Patient Engagement Survey: Technology Tools Gain Support — But Cost Is a Hurdle

NEJM Catalyst Insights Council members say patient engagement technology tools must be patient-centric and are most useful for managing chronic disease.

Patient-Researchers and Physician-Consultants Confront Chronic Disease

Personal-use sensors and data applications allow patients with Type 1 diabetes and other chronic diseases to take charge of managing their health. This is the future of chronic disease management.

Connect

A weekly email newsletter featuring the latest actionable ideas and practical innovations from NEJM Catalyst.

Learn More »

Topics

Patient Incentives

43 Articles

A/B Testing Health Behavior

Health care can’t implement changes overnight like Silicon Valley, but we can still learn from…

Patient-Centered Care

138 Articles

Shared Decision-Making for Good Clinical Care:…

Active patient involvement and patient autonomy can be burdensome to patients, especially when they are…

Patients As Customers

64 Articles

Shared Decision-Making for Good Clinical Care:…

Active patient involvement and patient autonomy can be burdensome to patients, especially when they are…

Insights Council

Have a voice. Join other health care leaders effecting change, shaping tomorrow.

Apply Now