Message, Time and Channel: The Foundation of Effective Strategic Patient Engagement

Published On: May 3rd, 20233 min read

Meaningful member engagement that puts the customer’s needs first is foundational to any effort to increase adherence to care plans. 


In recent posts…



In this post, we close out the series with an emphasis on the critical roles that message content, timing of outreach, and channel of engagement play in effective patient engagement.


Disrupting Patient Noncompliance

Payers frequently have high hopes for success with their well-intentioned efforts to close care gaps, only to be disappointed when outcomes fall flat. Some will endeavor to first understand the characteristics of their member populations. A few might even arrange cohorts of members according to health status and then focus their attention on care gaps that put both the members and the organization at risk.


Often neglected, though, is the critical step for any significant disruption in patient noncompliance: a patient engagement strategy that considers — all at once — message content, time of engagement and channel of communication. 


It’s all too common for payers to invest time and effort in analyzing their member populations and identifying cohorts only to…

  • Send out a generic mailer and hope for the best (sometimes called “spray and pray”);
  • Hand the patient’s phone number over to a partner who will pepper them with calls at inconvenient times and with scripts that resemble those of unsolicited spam;
  • Trigger email blast after email blast without pausing to evaluate the relevance of the content or the patient’s ability to act on the recommendations.


Not only do these uninspired, haphazard communications fail to accomplish their purpose of engaging members, but rather they can have the opposite effect of damaging members’ trust in the organization. Instead, these payers would benefit from a strategy that (1) dials in considerations for message content and format, time, and channel and then (2) measures success and iterates beyond the initial volley of email blasts, direct mailers and push notifications.

Reality Check

The fact is, effective patient engagement initiatives are those that are designed around the cohorts of customers who will be receiving the information. Factors like age, income, occupation, culture and language — just to name a few — can be used to inform outreach strategies:

  • A Gen Z patient might spend more time with a clever TikTok video about preventative care than an email relegated to the spam folder;
  • A cohort with a high percentage of Millennials may want an instructional intervention message formatted like a checklist that can be easily printed out at home and tacked to  the fridge;
  • Busy professionals may respond more to text message reminders with calendar invites that prompt them to set aside five minutes to schedule a follow-up appointment.

Secondary Benefits of Effective Engagement

Beyond the obvious benefits of an effective engagement strategy are some compelling secondary benefits.


Customers who are more engaged with their payers are also more likely to monitor their own health conditions and proactively seek medical advice, organically leading to better health even without additional intervention.


Highly engaged customers are also 48% more likely to consider their payer easier to work with. Translating to more engaged customers with higher satisfaction and who are less likely to switch to a new payer.


Is your organization considering message content and format when engaging with your member populations and cohorts? Is your organization experimenting with time and channel as part of your patient engagement strategy? Our experienced team at DMI would love to hear about your organization’s strategic engagement journey and consult with you on ways to wring more value from your investment. Connect with us today!