People from all walks of life call a nurse line for a wide variety of reasons. So how do you know if a nurse line is right for your member population? Health Dialog has a diverse member base calling our 24/7 Nurse Advice Line and we recently analyzed our book of business data to see what the typical caller looks like.* This analysis demonstrates who could benefit from a nurse line.
High-Deductible Health Plans May Mean a Higher Need for a Nurse Line
Health Dialog determined that almost half our Nurse Advice Line callers (47%) have a commercial health insurance plan. This could be from the increase in the number of high-deductible health plans in recent years. According to the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute (PBMI), the majority of employers offer a high-deductible health plan. High-deductible health plans increase out-of-pocket costs for members and are seen as a way to help consumers understand healthcare costs and make better decisions. The large number of callers from commercial health plans could show that it’s working.
With the high and often unknown cost of seeking medical care, members may be calling for advice on what to do before deciding between making a doctor’s appointment, visiting an urgent care or going to the emergency room. Offering a nurse line along with a high-deductible health plan could be an optimal way of controlling healthcare costs, while ensuring your members are informed about their healthcare and receive the attention they need.
Assistance for Those in Need
Similarly, we also found that the vast majority of our Nurse Advice Line calls come from middle-class and low-income households, at 82%. With more disposable income, wealthier people may not have as many concerns about copays or meeting large deductibles. Lower-income members could be utilizing this service to evaluate if spending their hard-earned money is really a necessity.
Too Many Choices Can Lead to Confusion
Our Nurse Advice Line call rates from suburban and urban areas were similar, at 45% and 48% respectively, while rural callers dial in much less often, at about 7%. This might be because callers from urban and suburban populations generally have a number of care options at their disposal. Sometimes having too many choices can make it harder for people to make decisions. Speaking with a registered nurse could help them decide if the emergency room, urgent care or at-home care is the best option for their situation.
There were slightly more calls from urban areas, which could suggest members struggle with access to reliable transportation. If your health plan offers rides through a third-party service or provides a telemedicine vendor as a resource, our Nurse Advice Line could connect them seamlessly. Providing extra support can help fill gaps that your population may be experiencing.
Caring for the Caregivers
Women are often the caregivers for families, taking on the responsibility of others’ healthcare needs. So it is not surprising that roughly 65% of Health Dialog’s Nurse Advice Line callers are women. Roughly 59% of women report being the caregiver for someone and that number increases to 95% among working mothers. Offering a nurse line can help caregivers effectively meet the needs of their loved ones.
Help Your Members Make Better Healthcare Decisions
Despite who is calling in, a nurse line can help members make the best decision for their healthcare needs. This in turn can help health plans, at-risk providers, employers and other healthcare organizations ensure the appropriate use of benefits and resources and reduce the overall cost of managing a population.
* Data has been normalized across Medicare, Medicaid and Commercial populations.