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COVID-19 vaccinations command more effective member communication plans; here’s what health plans can do now.

"The U.S. is falling to the lowest vaccination rates of the world's wealthiest democracies."

(from The New York Times, 12 September 2021)

Why is this happening and what can health plans do about it? 

In a recent story about the nation’s challenge to vaccinate eligible citizens, the New York Times reports that, “The U.S. vaccination curve has leveled dramatically since an initial surge in the first half of this year, when the vaccine first became widely available. In a push to vaccinate the roughly 80 million Americans who are eligible for shots but have not gotten them, President Biden on Thursday mandated that two-thirds of American workers, including health care workers and the vast majority of federal employees, be vaccinated against the coronavirus.”

Even pre-pandemic, vaccine non-adherence has been a critical issue especially for states with low vaccine coverage, and for segments of the population at high risk of COVID; this means those who are older or have a chronic disease background, who face immediate health risks as well as long-term risk.

With so much pressure to create a healthier society, health plans must find a way to engage their members and increase adherence, but it is hard to know who to focus on, and what would persuade members to get vaccinated.

 

One Message Does Not Fit All

Let’s take a look at what happens behind the scenes of a COVID vaccine motivation campaign. Here are three different members, each non-adherent for various reasons: 

Jack, 18-year-old male college student

Not yet vaccinated but otherwise healthy and had a flu vaccine this past winter, as in most flu seasons in the past.

Christine, 45-year-old female adult

Fairly healthy but hasn’t been vaccinated at all for COVID nor Influenza 

Henry, a 75-year-old male adult

Managing two chronic conditions: COPD and overweight, and at high-risk for contracting COVID. He had his first vaccination but has not yet completed the follow-up dose.

While all three individuals are non-adherent, they are each different and the reasons for their non-adherence vary. While messages promoting vaccination may all emphasize the need to protect one’s health (and consequently save the population), one message cannot fit everyone: personal relevance is needed to drive behavior change.

 

Same Challenge, Various Barriers

Since they each have different risks as far as their health outcomes are concerned, the health plan’s marketing strategy must adapt and come up with different approaches to reach them.

Let’s walk through a marketing plan targeting these three individual members:

Medorion will use members’ clinical data, vaccination data (COVID and other diseases), SDoH and demographic data to differentiate between individual decision barriers and segment members according to where they are on the continuum, i.e., ‘completely against vaccination’ to ‘supportive but not adherent’. Each of these member segments are different from each other in significant ways, and the likelihood of changing their behavior in response to strategic communication varies.  

For example, it is easier to nudge those members who already got the first vaccination to follow up on their second dose, but it’s much harder to persuade someone who hasn’t been vaccinated at all. It’s also important to take into account the health risks of each member as far as organizational priorities are concerned: reaching groups and individual members at higher risk of COVID is a priority for the health system and for the individual. 

Medorion’s SaaS platform will then automatically create these population segment groups and identify the most relevant predictors and decision barriers to vaccination. The software will emphasize member-level tailored messages, accessible seamlessly to members through their daily digital content consumption habits. These messages are aimed towards individuals with a specific factor that is likely to be most relevant for changing their health behavior to favor COVID-19 vaccine. 

In June 2021, TIME magazine pointed out

“The US Needs Better Marketing to Get Vaccination Rates Up.”

To achieve the same behavioral objective – life-saving COVID-19 vaccination - tailored communication would then be implemented for each member segment. Each parallel marketing effort incorporates messages that emphasize the different behavioral decision elements identified by Medorion’s software. These elements are based on validated decision factors from behavioral science theories and constructs, and have been proven to help move people along the continuum toward adherence. The health plan’s ability to communicate effectively to each segment is paramount to creating a healthier population and in raising public health awareness.

  

Shift to Timely and Potent Communications

Medorion’s SaaS platform combines Behavioral Persuasion AI and an interactive SaaS model that enables health plans to activate the vaccination outreach program for all segments, as well as track member engagement and message effectiveness in real time for 100% of its members population.  

Health plans can also observe and monitor members' engagement levels across segmented groups and the entire population, and refine messages as the data from the Medorion engine continues to learn more about each member and constantly tracks which behavioral elements are most and least effective. 

Selling the right plan is definitely high-up on the health plan’s priority list, and yet, selling free, life-saving services often falls between the cracks. That’s because buying the ‘perfect-fit’ health plan tends to require relatively easy logic and financial reasoning whereas marketing a vaccine must touch upon human vulnerability, fear, misinformation, and bias. Health plan marketing teams now have a real chance to reassert their influence by tapping into members’ concerns at the individual level and communicating to those very real barriers. 

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