Yesterday at The 2019 OPEN MINDS Consumer Engagement Technologies Summit we discussed two key issues—what consumers want and how to engage them. The first is increasingly important to strategic positioning as provider organization executive teams plan their long-term strategies in the face of growing competition (for more, see the closing keynote, What Does It Take To Outlast The Disruptors? Building a New Strategy For A New Market, from my colleague, OPEN MINDS Chief Executive Officer Monica E. Oss. The second, how to engage those consumers, is more about bending the cost curve in value-based payment arrangements—engaged consumers have better outcomes and use fewer resources. This is a mantra in health and human services with good reason (see Better Outcomes For Less Cost Will Follow Engaged Patients).
Leveraging technology to get and keep consumers in treatment and managing their own wellbeing was the focus of the summit, moderated by OPEN MINDS Senior Associate Chris Williams. In his opening presentation, Mr. Williams focused on some of the statistics that show that engagement has room for improvement. Most importantly, 70% of consumers drop out of treatment after their first couple visits.
The opportunity? Today’s consumers have been primed for using technology in their daily lives—77% already have a smartphone and spend four hours a day using it. The question for most executive teams is what type of improved consumer engagement fits with your strategy and what technologies are the best choice in that instance? (For more on technology selection, see Planning Your Treatment Tech Investment and Your Digital Tech Integration Checklist.)
The summit featured case study presentations on a wide range of consumer engagement technologies by a broad range of executives. The speakers included:
- Andrea Auxier, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Product Development, New Directions
- Chris Thompson, MHA, Chief Operating Officer, Monarch
- Davis Park, Executive Director, Front Porch Center for Innovation & Wellbeing
- Larry Smith, CPRSS, Chief Operating Officer, Grand Lake Mental Health Center, Inc.
- Neal A. Bowen, Ph.D., Chief Mental Health Officer, Hidalgo Medical Services
(Presentations from all speakers are available online at The 2019 OPEN MINDS Consumer Engagement Technologies Summit.) We saw some common themes come up again and again throughout the day, and I have three key takeaways for executive teams who are considering implementing their own engagement technology tools: Start with return on investment (ROI), remember that reinventing process and workflow is key to tech ROI, and know that some pilots of new technology will fail.
Start with ROI in mind — Investing in technology should be framed as an investment within your organization. Start with your strategic plan and your organizational goals. Then, determine how your technology investments will support those goals and build a framework for measuring outcomes and monitoring costs. Before you implement any new technology, you should have clear expectations on the return on investment and how you will monitor that ROI.
Reinventing process and workflow is key to tech ROI — There is a lot of tech options out there and selecting the right one is important, but key to successfully implement and use the tech will come by building new process and workflow to maximize the investment. The “heavy lifting” when it comes to tech adoption lies in building the infrastructure, training the staff, coaching consumers, designing data collection for outcomes, collecting the data, and moving on to data-based management of the project moving forward. Executive teams must budget both time and money accordingly.
Some pilots of new technology will fail — Funding, efficacy, and consumer adoption are often far from certain. Many pilots may fail, and even if the tech works you might not be able to prove it until it has been in use for a little while. Leadership must understand and accept that there can be no success without risk. This is not permission to avoid due diligence, or ignore the importance of performance, but the opportunity to spend a smaller amount of money to build a long-term picture of success (which will be necessary to prove your case to funders) is one that can’t be realized unless you make the investment. The key is to “fail fast”—pilot programs for technology should be short and to the point. Know exactly what you are looking for and the results the adoption must deliver. Only when you have successfully delivered on a small pilot can you look to scale.
My advice for provider organizations—especially smaller, specialty organizations—is that adopting tech to improve consumer engagement is a strategy that deliver big rewards despite the short-term risk. Stay tuned in the coming weeks when we take a deep dive into the technology and strategy delivered by the summit presenters, and how they worked to overcome that risk.
For more making the most from consumer engagement in your market, check out these resources from the OPEN MINDS Industry Library:
- Consumer Engagement = Performance
- Integration, Interoperability & Consumer Engagement
- From Consumer Engagement To Consumer Activation
- Less Consumer Education Demands More Consumer Engagement
- Consumer Satisfaction, Consumer Engagement & Shared Decisionmaking
- Consumer Engagement Is The Missing Piece In Population Health
- Is Consumer Engagement A Habit At Your Organization?
- How One Payer Is Upping Its Consumer Engagement Game
- Social Media Listening As Consumer Engagement Strategy
- How Consumer Engagement Is Reshaping Service Delivery
For more on the incorporation of innovation, including consumer engagement tech, into your strategy, check out our archived discussions and coverage from The 2019 OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovation Institute on Twitter @openmindscircle – #OMstrategy.