Increasing your members’ engagement in their healthcare and lifestyle decisions can lead to better health outcomes and lower healthcare costs. At Health Dialog, we have found that there are four pillars to engaging members and seeing improved results:
Health Dialog has long touted member empowerment through education as our guiding principle. Armed with knowledge, the member can practice self-care to effectively manage their health condition on a long-term basis, as well as develop response plans should troublesome symptoms arise. Our Health Coaches are registered nurses who work with members to ensure they have the information they need about their condition and treatments, providing easy-to-understand educational materials.
Our Health Coaches also work with members to increase their motivation to improve their health through behavior change. Health Coaches utilize motivational interviewing techniques to help members understand why it is important to take care of themselves and the consequences should they fail to do so. This includes questions to determine what’s important to the member, such as do they want to be around to see their grandkids or do they want to be in good enough health to travel the world after retirement. Tying these intrinsic motivational factors with education and effective care goals is key to member engagement and keeping people healthy.
3. Perception of Health Status
While education and motivation are the pillars of our behavior change coaching model, facing reality and thinking about how healthy you are as a baseline is crucial for actual progress and sustained behavior change. A member’s perception of health is influenced by many factors, including information they’ve searched for on the web, watched on TV, past personal experiences or information given to them from their physician. Studies have shown a direct correlation between the member’s perception of their health and outcomes, such as emotional distress, recovery and adherence to treatment plans. If a member does not understand the cause of their illness and corresponding treatment plan, they may be less motivated to be adherent. Subsequently, they may experience depression and feelings of hopelessness if symptoms worsen.
For this reason, our Health Coaches make it a point to ask a member what their general perception of their health is on every call. Coaches will explore the reasoning for the member’s perceived health status and ensure the member is well informed about their condition and the path forward. Improved perception of health status on subsequent calls (poor to good, for example) gives members a sense of accomplishment, increases motivation and confidence that they can get better with every goal that they achieve. The hope is that achievement of these smaller goals, which have a clinical foundation, empowers members to take control of their health and ultimately improve their quality of life—along with decreased utilization of healthcare resources and overall medical costs.
Confidence typically increases as goals are achieved and personal health improvements are realized. Research shows that improved health confidence leads to positive outcomes, such as lower levels of healthcare utilization. Confidence that one can learn, adhere to a treatment plan, and make behavior changes—like quitting smoking—leads to increased member engagement and, ultimately, health improvement. As Health Coaches set goals with members, they identify barriers to achieving those goals and work with the member on strategies to overcome them. They also capture the member’s confidence level in overcoming the barriers and achieving the goal, then work to increase the member’s confidence and help them succeed.
At Health Dialog, we strive to empower members to take control of their health and engagement is critical to achieving this mission. We’ve learned in our more than 20 years of providing population health services, that by incorporating techniques to increase these four pillars of knowledge, motivation, perception of health status and confidence, member engagement improves. Our proprietary, member-centric Ready? Set. Go!® behavioral change model that is used in all our health and wellness programs supports these pillars, providing ongoing encouragement, reinforcement and reassessment of each member’s goals and the necessary behavior changes. This leads to more engaged members, which in turn leads to better results, helping members achieve whole health for life.
 Petrie, K.J., Weinman, J. (2012). Patients’ Perceptions of Their Illness: The Dynamo of Volition in Health Care. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 2012 21: 60. DOI: 10.1177/0963721411429456. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0963721411429456.
 Nunlist, M.M., et al (2016). Using Health Confidence to Improve Patient Outcomes. Family Practice Management. 2016;23(6):21-24.