3 Questions We Couldn't Wait to Ask Jim Fields About Engaging Seniors

By Mimi Macauley

We couldn't wait for Thursday's webinar to hear what Jim Fields, Oliver Wyman partner and Medicare expert, had to say about engaging seniors in their health.

So I sat down with him for a quick chat where we talked about why now is the time to be engaging your Seniors and why engagement needs to extend beyond the sick care system. 

Register for the June 11 webinar with Jim to hear more (click here for the on-demand replay).

MIMI: Why is it important to engage with Seniors?

JIM: I think everyone knows—or should know—that engagement is an important factor in retaining members. With the average Medicare Advantage member accounting for $10,000 in revenue a year, that’s enough reason to worry about engagement all by itself. But there’s another reason that’s becoming more and more important: Engagement is one of the keys to achieving strong Star Rating scores and performing well in risk adjustment—both of which are crucial to a plan’s ability to stay competitive and make a reasonable margin.  And let's not forget, when we talk about strong Star Rating scores and risk adjustment, we're really talking about creating the conditions for making members healthier and more satisfied with the service you provide.  

MIMI: How is engaging with Seniors changing?

JIM: The same way that technology and marketing are changing. You can reach Seniors through many more channels, including digital, but there is a lot more noise. If your message is not authentic, personalized, and simple, it’s not going to be heard. If there’s one thing that consumer electronics have taught us, it’s that simplicity is incredibly powerful—and incredibly difficult to achieve. Health plans need to learn to emulate the thoughtfulness, creativity, data, and discipline that big tech players like Apple bring to engaging consumers. You also can’t overlook providers as an important communication and engagement channel with members. Aligning your engagement strategy with providers is challenging but is often the key ingredient in driving impact. Doctors are potentially your best allies--most of them  truly want their patients to be healthier and more engaged, but on the other, there are dozens of details to be worked out to ensure that you and the providers you work with are truly aligned.   

MIMI: Many people think engaging with Seniors has to be through the sick care system. You disagree. Why?

JIM: It’s not that you shouldn’t engage Seniors through the sick care system. That’s obviously extremely important. But it’s not enough. Thankfully, most seniors actively engage with the sick care system only in limited ways and for small periods of time. But if you wait for those instances, you’re missing opportunities to connect with them as they think about a whole range of issues involved in daily health, coverage, and care. When you engage with Seniors in ways that are relevant to them, you are granted permission to shape and guide their health behaviors which directly impacts Stars, risk adjustment, and medical costs.

Register for the June 11 webinar with Jim to hear more.