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Wellsource Blog

Use HRA Data to Increase Medicaid Engagement

Written by Wellsource, Inc.

June 17, 2020

Medicaid members represent an incredibly diverse population. With nearly 71 million individuals enrolled, this group ranges from the very young to the elderly, those who are in good health to those living with chronic diseases, full-time workers to recently unemployed—and everyone in between. These factors, in addition to things like geographic location and socioeconomic status, mean that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to engaging with a Medicaid population.

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And engagement is crucial to wellness program success. When it comes to improving health outcomes for Medicaid members, we know that providing personalized programs that speak to their individual health risk ultimately yields the best results – but how can you provide that kind of personalized program at scale?

Health risk assessment (HRA) data provides the insights your population health program needs to better understand your Medicaid population and create more targeted wellness initiatives.

While a patient’s chart will contain information like their height, weight, and various diagnoses, an HRA will gather more in-depth and personal information. Questions are formulated to provide insights into an individual’s lifestyle (including SDoH), habits, and readiness to change—all of which play a major role in determining what types of programs and resources will best serve your members.

Below are three ways HRA data can provide you valuable insights into your Medicaid population:

One: Identify Social Determinants of Health 

It’s been said that an individual’s zip code could be a better predictor of their health than their genetic makeup. As we’ve previously discussed on our blog, Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) are defined as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. More specific examples include where someone lives, their income, and their access to employment, healthcare facilities, educational resources, and nutritious food. For example, according to a report prepared by the USDA, 2.2% of US households live more than one mile away from a grocery store and do not have access to personal transportation. These factors—their proximity to a grocery store and the availability of transportation—are examples of SDoH.

HRA data can provide insight into what percentage of your population is dealing with issues that may be attributed to SDOH. For example, questions like “how many servings of fruits and vegetables do you eat weekly,” and “where does the food you eat come from (grocery store, garden, fast food, etc.)” can provide insights into how readily available healthy foods are. From there, if responses indicate your population is at risk of food scarcity, you could explore the possibility of working with food pantries or farmers’ markets to create food pick-up or delivery services.

Two: Target Populations That Are Ready to Change

One effective way to engage targeted segments of your Medicaid population is to focus your program on individuals who are ready to make a change. A reliable, trustworthy health risk assessment (HRA) can help you identify who is ready, who’s close, and who is resistant to change. For example, some of the data collected may indicate that an individual is open to becoming more physically active. This data is collected by asking questions about current habits and plans for future adjustments, such as “how much time do you spend doing activities that make you sweat (each day/each week)” and “do you want to get more exercise.” The responses will indicate where an individual is on the Readiness to Change Journey.

Once you know how much of your population is within any stage of the Journey, you can develop wellness programming that will help them continue—or begin—their healthy path.

When you’re considering engaging with individuals who are ready to change, consider approaches that will continue to motivate them. Apps that gamify exercise or partnering with influencers that provide healthy eating tips are great ways to provide resources and motivation in an engaging manner.

Three: Use the Power of Technology

If you’re in population health, you’ve heard the phrase “meet them where they are” when it comes to engaging with diverse populations. Increasingly, we see individuals living, working, and playing in the mobile and digital space. Within an HRA, questions as simple as “what is your email address,” and “how many hours do you spend on a phone/computer per day” can provide a wealth of information as to how much of your population is digitally connected. Most Americans have cell phones, which means that creating mobile-friendly initiatives is an investment that will engage a diverse population.

How can your program then leverage this knowledge to better serve a Medicaid population? Some examples include creating a system for sending text messages about prescription refills, vaccination clinics, or appointment reminders. Similarly, the “anytime, anywhere” availability of the Internet means that you can provide 24/7 access to resources such as telehealth services. And, of course, for a population that is skewing more heavily toward a digital lifestyle, HRAs can be administered online, increasing the likelihood that they get completed.

Personalized health and wellness programs better engage participants, but scaling personalization for a population as diverse as Medicaid membership is difficult—and it’s impossible without data to back up your programs. A well-developed HRA provides you with the self-reported lifestyle data you need to build an engaging Medicaid health and wellness program.  

If you’re ready to start engaging with your Medicaid population and want to learn more about using HRA data to plan a personalized approach, download our guide HRA Data to Increase Medicaid Engagement: 5 Strategies.

Medicaid Engagement Guide

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Engagement is crucial to Medicaid wellness program success. When it comes to improving health outcomes for Medicaid members, we know that providing personalized programs that speak to their individual health risk ultimately yields the best results – but how can you provide that kind of personalized program at scale?

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