Humana finds simplicity key to engaging older members


When Humana set out to create a program helping its Medicare Advantage members manage their diabetes, it learned an age-old lesson--simple is better.

Humana launched a multi-channel, multimedia program, My Diabetes Path, earlier this year to help its Medicare members manage the day-to-day issues related to living with diabetes, such as knowing what to eat, checking glucose levels, managing exercise and other types of activities to maintain healthful lives. The insurer partnered with dLife Healthcare Solutions, which provided its proprietary content, tools and online community to the diabetes program.

"It's an 8-week program that's spread out to allow the information to be given in small bites through multiple channels--print, online, email--as the member selects to receive it," Marie Dieudonne, program manager for diabetes self-care program at Humana, told FierceHealthPayer. "It's a program that's really focused on behavior change, so what little thing can we do today that we can really see the impact of long-term."

"For example, one week we talk about healthy eating and really understanding food's carbohydrate count, so we'll provide recipes really geared toward diabetics," she explained.

But since it can be particularly difficult to reach and engage older customers through technology and media, Humana officials chose to take the simplest approach possible to compel these members to join the program. "First, we started with basic introduction letters saying, 'Let me tell you about a new program we have that can help you with your diabetes.' Very simple, straight-forward," Dieudonne said. The insurer also included such phrases as, "Join people who are like you" and "Learn more about how to deal with these types of situations" to promote the program.

"We introduced the program with those simple letters, sharing what's available to the members and saying let's begin to walk down this path together of improving your daily life with diabetes," she added. "Simple messages means a lot to engaging people."

Furthering this concept of simplicity, Humana doesn't overload the diabetes program participants with too much information at once. "We learned that offering too much at one time didn't get us where we wanted," Dieudonne said. "Although you get a lot of information over a little bit of time, you can take little nuggets and then come back on a regular basis to review and see updated materials and content going forward."

So far, Humana has proved that simple really is better. The My Diabetes Path pilot, which launched last year with 18,000 members, resulted in a 7 percent improvement in LDL screening, 9 percent improvement in blood sugar screening and 7 percent improvement in eye exams.

"People are taking actions as a result of the program," Dieudonne said, adding that Humana saw a "tremendous response" to the program's full roll out. "It seems to strike a cord with people." - Dina (@HealthPayer)