How the Right Health Education Can Save Money and Improve Outcomes

Healthwise Communications Team

People want information about their health. A large majority—over 80% of patients—actively seek information about how to cope with health issues.1 They ask for it from their healthcare organizations and they look for it online. Don’t leave patients to fend for themselves—have you seen the medical advice you can find on YouTube and social media? 😳 Your organization can help by providing patients with accurate, trustworthy content. Choosing a health education solution is a big deal, so we have seven practical tips in our eBrief, “The Buyer’s Guide to Selecting the Right Health Education Solution.”

Patients want information, and they’ll find it

For example, meet Hank. Hank was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes three years ago. His doctor prescribed insulin, but when the time came to inject himself at home, Hank couldn’t remember what to do. So he checked the internet. During his research, Hank found an article his cousin shared on social media about simply drinking lots of water to regulate blood sugar, and another about how insulin is all a money-making scheme created by “Big Pharma.” The information Hank needed wasn’t readily available, and the information he found was incorrect. At that point, he got overwhelmed and just gave up.

Hank’s story isn’t unusual. In one study, when participants searched for answers to six common health questions online, 96% of them used an unaccredited source to answer at least one question.2 Another study found that 39% of people in the United States believe that alternative therapies alone can cure cancer.3 Sources supporting that idea are all over the internet.

Did we mention providing health information can also be key to saving money? If people like Hank get the information they need from the start, they could avoid health risks, have better outcomes, and reduce costs. In fact, low health literacy costs between $106 billion and $238 billion a year.4 This is where your organization’s health education solution comes in.

Good health education solutions work for patients like Hank

The good news for Hank is that he recently changed providers. Hank’s new care manager, Carol, reached out to see how he was managing his condition and if he had questions. When Carol found out he wasn’t using the insulin that had been prescribed by his doctor, she was concerned.

“Care plan adherence is always a big concern with type 2 diabetes,” explains Carol. “Disease management is critical to keeping these individuals healthy and reducing costs across the board.”

To help Hank out, Carol did a quick search in her health education solution database to find mobile-friendly instructions on self-injection. She also pulled up a guide to insulin pumps to educate Hank about his options over the phone. She then emailed the guide to Hank so he and his doctor could decide about the insulin pump together.

As easy as that, Hank had the information he needed and could take better care of himself. And he did.

Not all health education solutions are created equal

Why didn’t Hank get the information he needed three years before? Even though Hank’s old health plan had an education solution in place, inefficiency and a lack of employee buy-in worked against him. For years, Hank’s old company had assumed their education would magically fill in communication gaps. But care managers didn’t know how to use the system. And even when they did, usability issues made the information difficult for customers to consume.

When Hank asked his former care manager for more information on insulin, she didn’t know how to address his questions. The health plan's education solution didn't provide talking points for coaching patients on the phone, so she just emailed him some lengthy documents without realizing Hank didn’t own a computer. Because the documents weren’t mobile responsive, the information was hard to read on Hank’s tiny phone screen, so they didn’t help.

“If care managers and providers had been given the tools to follow up with Hank effectively from the beginning—explaining medical terms with language he understood, getting information to him in a way that worked, and helping him stick to his care plan—he could have felt better sooner, and his health plan could have saved money,” says Carol. “Cases like Hank’s prove that many companies need to find better health education solutions.”

The right health education solution can pay for itself

Stories like Hank’s are common in the healthcare industry. Most people want to learn more about their care, but they only know two ways to get that information: the (unreliable) internet and (expensive) visits to the doctor. When organizations proactively educate and provide answers, they empower members to take control of their own care in a way that improves their health and saves money.5

Research shows that a quality health education solution provides multiple benefits:

  • Increased brand loyalty and retention
  • Less money spent on repeat care
  • Higher level of member satisfaction6
  • Ability for care managers to coach in-house
  • Compliance with quality programs like CPC+ and HCAHPS7, 8

Not all health education solutions are created equal, so it’s critical to understand what makes a quality health education solution for your company and your members. The content itself might seem helpful, but not researching and testing a health content provider ahead of time can be a costly mistake for both a health plan and its members.

What should you look for in a health education solution?

Better health information delivers a better experience for your members and your employees. You should feel confident and comfortable sharing the content, and you should know you’re getting the best resources for everyone who will use it.

You can empower your care managers and effectively educate patients like Hank by choosing the right health education solution. "The Buyer’s Guide to Selecting the Right Health Education Solution" outlines the seven key components to look for when making your choice.

1 http://www.pickereurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Assessing-the-quality-of-information-to-support-people-in-makin.pdf
2 https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-publhealth-040119-094127#
3 https://www.asco.org/sites/new-www.asco.org/files/content-files/research-and-progress/documents/2018-NCOS-Results.pdf
4 Vernon JA, et al. (2007). Low Health Literacy: Implications for National Health Policy.
5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19514801
6 https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/healthcare/hospital-discharge-instructions-boost-patient-satisfaction
7 https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives
8 https://www.hcahpsonline.org