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Member Abrasion in Healthcare: Definition & Solution

Disclaimer: Virgin Pulse and HealthComp are now Personify Health

Are worries about member abrasion keeping you up at night?

With so many things to communicate, avoiding member abrasion is a big challenge. But it’s not something healthcare organizations can ignore. Health plans can reduce member abrasion by taking new approaches, including investing in the right tools and strategies.

Here are some frequently asked questions our member engagement experts get about what member abrasion is in healthcare and how to avoid it.

What is member abrasion in healthcare?

In lay terms, member abrasion in healthcare refers to irritating health plan members (and causing them to be disengaged) by bombarding them with too many irrelevant communications and resources. Here’s an example of what member abrasion looks like in the real world.

Let’s consider Joe, a 50-year old, full-time-employed male. Even though he’s in general good health, his company email inbox is being bombarded during the day with messages from his plan. He’s getting messages to quit smoking, schedule a well visit, get his flu shot, book a colonoscopy, learn about new coverage benefits, and take a member survey.

While all useful in one way or another, for Joe, many of these are irrelevant since he already completed some of these actions. Similarly, providers also face challenges that lead to provider abrasion, which occurs when unnecessary strain is put on providers through inefficient processes or excessive requirements.

And then there’s the fact that he works in the field and doesn’t check his email during the day. The result? All of these well-intended messages are ignored, sitting unread. Not only is Joe missing out on relevant benefits, but he’s also not seeing the value in the coverage he currently has.

How does member abrasion affect health plan member engagement?

Understanding what is provider abrasion helps in appreciating the parallel challenges in healthcare communications, where both members and providers seek efficiency and relevance. Member abrasion and health plan member engagement are intimately linked. When a member continues to receive multiple, irrelevant and overlapping communications from their health plan, they eventually being to tune out messages.

As members disengage, they are more likely to miss important reminders – like ones about a diabetes or cancer screening – that are critical to keeping them at optimal health. And when this happens, the health plan member sees less value in the plan they have…and they start to think about switching.

This is why minimizing member abrasion needs to be a key component of a health organization’s overall member engagement and retention strategy.

How can health plans avoid member abrasion?

To reduce provider abrasion, it’s essential to streamline communication and improve the overall efficiency of healthcare delivery, mirroring efforts to diminish member abrasion. Reducing member abrasion in healthcare is possible with the right tools and strategies. Here are three tried and true tips:

  • Reframe the member experience. Remember that the member experience reflects the sum of interactions a member has, and that it should span the entire member year. Thinking about all of your health plan’s collective outreach with this long-term view will create a more structured approach that will reduce member abrasion and engage, not drive away, members.
  • Use data and predictive analytics to understand what individual members need. Sending a ton of irrelevant resources and information will add only to the noise. When you use data to understand members as individuals, you’ll know what programs they need and will catch their attention.
  • Use multiple communications channels in a coordinated way. Remember Joe? Email only comms wasn’t working for him. Instead, use multiple channels members prefer (like text, automated voice (IVR) calls, email and direct mail), in a coordinated way, so communications complement, not overwhelm one another.

What are some ways health organizations can streamline communications to reduce member abrasion throughout the year?

Here are some specific examples of how health plans can take a strategic approach to orchestrating communications across lines of business to reduce member abrasion even more.

  • Create a seamless welcome and onboarding approach that starts immediately after a member enrolls (before Day 1 of official coverage), giving them answers to critical information before they need it (like, will their provider or a specific medication they are taking still be in network/covered when new coverage kicks in?)
  • Prioritize closing specific gaps in care based on those that have the greatest impact on your Star Ratings
  • Plan outreach to time benefits announcements before the CAHPS survey period, so the value you offer is front and center when health plan members are surveyed

Personify Health has the tools and technology to help health organizations reduce member abrasion by building a year-long member experience, as well as conducting coordinated, targeted outreach on their behalf. Curious to learn more? Check out the resources below or schedule a meeting to talk!