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
PROMs Usage Is Limited but Growing

Patient Engagement Buzz Survey: PROMs Use Is Growing, but Implementation Takes Effort

While clinical outcomes lend themselves to measurement, quantifying how an individual patient experiences symptoms or a loss of function can be more challenging. One promising approach is the use of Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs).

Taxonomy of the Patient Voice Table

Taxonomy of the Patient Voice

While health care pursues the important trend of putting patients at the center of care, the terms used to describe this goal are proliferating — and muddying the discourse. This taxonomy attempts to classify some of these terms and make some distinctions.

Agarwal01_pullquote handcrafting the patient experience

Handcrafting the Patient Experience

Health care organizations can take cues from consumer-facing companies like Airbnb to creatively insert convenience and surprise into patient encounters.

Screenshot of Tidepool daily diabetes data

A Taxonomy to Engage Patients: Objectives, Design, and Patient Activation

Health information initiatives will succeed only if they focus on patients’ motivation to engage and reflect the type of engagement they seek.

Ghafur01_pullquote -digital health health care consumer patient experience

Engaging Patients Using Digital Technology — Learning from Other Industries

Providers can benefit patients and disrupt health care by learning from the experience of other industries.

Mission Hospital Virtual Sitter - Drawing of the Virtual Bed Zone and Rails

Reducing Inpatient Falls and Injury Rates by Integrating New Technology with Workflow Redesign

How Mission Hospital scaled a virtual sitter pilot and reduced unassisted falls by 44% and fall-related injuries by 40%.

Health Care Providers Should Incentivize Patients

Survey Snapshot: Patient Financial Incentives — There Are No Quick Fixes

The NEJM Catalyst Insights Council agrees that while financial incentives are a common strategy to engage patients in healthy behaviors, they are not necessarily effective.

Support of Family and Friends Is More Effective Than Clinician Support in Realizing Health Goals - From the Patient Engagement Insights Report: Why No Single Health Incentive Works.

Patient Engagement Survey: Why No Single Health Incentive Works

Initiatives to improve patient engagement come in a variety of forms. While insurers, employers, and health care providers are all involved in using financial incentives and penalties for engagement efforts, improvement in health outcomes has been elusive. Achieving that ultimate goal will usually require a combination of financial and social approaches.

Health Systems Attending the Nudge Units in Health Care Symposium - Penn Medicine

Key Insights on Launching a Nudge Unit within a Health Care System

Leaders are finding that making higher-value choices easier through subtle changes to choice architecture can have an outsized impact on medical decision-making.

Barriers to Providing an Oustanding Patient Experience

Buzz Survey Report: Patient Experience

An independent NEJM Catalyst report sponsored by University of Utah Health on barriers to achieving an excellent patient experience.

Connect

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

Learn More »

Topics

Patient Incentives

75 Articles

Taxonomy of the Patient Voice

While health care pursues the important trend of putting patients at the center of care,…

Ripe for Disruption: Why and How…

For big tech companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google, the health care sector looks ripe…

Patients As Customers

141 Articles

Information Asymmetry: The Untapped Value of…

The knowledge and preferences that patients could — and should — share with clinicians would…

Insights Council

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

Apply Now