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
How the EpxSubstanceUse Substance Use Disorder Mobile Health Texting Program Works - Preferred Family Healthcare Epharmix Technology Assisted Care Coordination Project Opioid Abuse

Messaging System Helps Caregivers Keep Tabs on Growing Number of Patients with Substance Use Disorder

One behavioral health provider pilots cost-effective outreach to patients with SUD that checks up on their recovery, triages needs, and facilitates communication.

Gary Kaplan Head Shot

Improving Patient Involvement in Care

The CEO of Virginia Mason on facilitating and enhancing patient participation in care.

Chou01_pullquote_Time to Start Using Evidence-Based Approaches to Patient-Provider Communication

Time to Start Using Evidence-Based Approaches to Patient Engagement

Clinicians must acknowledge that there is a dramatic difference between learning a concept about patient-provider communication and learning the actual skills for effective execution.

Nash01_pullquote - A Requiem for Value-Based Care Population Health.

A Requiem for Population Health?

Despite some fits and starts for value-based care, there is abundant evidence that the concept will continue to survive and thrive.

Steps for Deploying Nudge Unit in Health Care

Nudge Units to Improve the Delivery of Health Care

Key information and important choices are constantly being presented in health care. Yet often the frames or default options used are selected without attention to strategic goals.

Example Cost of Custom-Built PRO Collection Platform

The Cost of Patient-Reported Outcomes in Medicine

Implementation of routine PRO collection is paramount to measuring and maximizing value in health care.

Mentoring, Education, and Engagement: An Employee Training Technique to Improve Patient Experience and Employee Satisfaction

How open communication and one-to-one mentoring generated team spirit and a learning environment.

Face-to-Face Group Sessions Are the Most Useful Mode of Communication in Health Social Networks

Survey Snapshot: Patient Networks Are Important for Outcomes

NEJM Catalyst Insights Council members overwhelmingly agree that social networks can impact chronic diseases and healthy behaviors, but time commitment and funding prevent their prevalence.

Consumerism in Health Care

Will personalized interventions transform how we improve an individual’s health? A frequent-flier expert believes that it will.

Chronic Disease Management and Healthy Behavior Promotion Are the Best Uses of Health Social Networks

Patient Engagement Survey: Social Networks to Improve Patient Health

Social networks — both face-to-face and virtual — have been shown to positively impact behaviors such as weight loss and smoking cessation. Is the health care industry ready to more widely leverage this mechanism for increasing healthy behaviors among patients?

Connect

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

Learn More »

Topics

Messaging System Helps Caregivers Keep Tabs…

One behavioral health provider pilots cost-effective outreach to patients with SUD that checks up on…

Patients As Customers

99 Articles

Time to Start Using Evidence-Based Approaches…

Clinicians must acknowledge that there is a dramatic difference between learning a concept about patient-provider…

Patient Incentives

58 Articles

Improving Patient Involvement in Care

The CEO of Virginia Mason on facilitating and enhancing patient participation in care.

Insights Council

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

Apply Now