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A Healthy Dose of Social Media

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, February 19, 2010

A couple months back, we reported on a study that showed younger people (under 30) were more likely to be receptive to electronic communications from carriers about new products and offers, which opens new possibilities for the way insurers can and should engage with this digital generation. 

And we reported that some insurers, such as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin, are employing online tools such as Twitter to better address members' questions or concerns about their health benefits.

Now, here's another interesting example of social media at work within the insurance industry:

Acknowledging that the best way to interact with members of Generation Y is through social media, a major health insurer and leading medical school have teamed up to reach out to this emerging group. Health Net of California has teamed up with the UCLA School of Public Health to develop a health literacy training intervention using social media to encourage adolescents ages 13 to 17 to utilize health care more effectively. Nine out of ten teens are insured, Health Net reports.

The two-year project, funded by a $1.1 million grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, will use a randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of two different interventions -- a Web-based social media intervention and a "usual care" intervention -- to improve preventive care and decrease emergency room visits among adolescents.  The study will assess the impact of various traditional and newer social media interventions on utilization patterns, health literacy, preventive health care interactions with primary care providers, adoption of preventive health practices, health information-seeking, and attitudes toward health care. 

“One of our chief goals is establishing best practices for encouraging teens to use their insurance and the health care system so they can become knowledgeable health care consumers as they transition into adulthood," said Nancy Wongvipat Kalev, Health Net's director of Health Education and Cultural and Linguistic Services and another study collaborator.

Programs such as this represent smart approaches to reaching out to consumers through well-targeted channels. This may be the way to engage somewhat older consumers as well. 

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

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