3 Strategies to improve staff adoption of digital health solutions

How can health plans proactively address staff concerns about using a new digital tool?

“Communicating the changes, the ‘why’ behind the change and getting more initial buy-in,” was most effective for April Richardson, M.D. 

Dr. Richardson is the Medical Director, Companion Benefit Alternatives at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina. She and health plan leaders Jodi Siegel, MSHI, BSN, RN and Jessica Daniel, MPH from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan shared their experiences in the Recharge 2022 panel “Methods to strengthen staff capacity and impact.”

Encouraging staff adoption of digital health tools is a cyclical process. All three panelists emphasized the importance of communication and transparency throughout the implementation process. Sharing the motivations behind your digital engagement strategy can help earn staff member’s trust and encourage them to share candid feedback. Staff feedback is essential to successfully implementing a new digital engagement solution. It allows your leadership and training teams to approach staff concerns and hesitancy in a targeted way.

illustration of care manager at a computer to represent staff adoption of digital health solutions

If I could go back, I wish we would have had the foresight to take a more targeted approach to understanding staff barriers before we actually did.

Jessica Daniel, MPH 
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan 

Take a targeted approach to addressing staff concerns

The best way to help your staff adopt a new solution is to cater your training to their questions and unique needs. Take incremental temperature checks to understand where your team is succeeding and where they may be struggling. Communicate with your team that you hear their concerns and will modify the digital workflow to improve efficacy.

Identify employee competencies

Before adjusting staff workflows, you need a starting point. Finding your team’s existing strengths can direct your strategy. 

One way to gauge staff competencies is for training teams to listen to telephone conversations between staff and members. Training teams can identify when and how staff are offering your digital health solution to members—and why members turn it down. You’ll also gain perspective on how members interact with your staff and what they expect from their experiences.

Survey your staff

Digital surveys can help your plan understand why individuals might be hesitant to adopt a new solution. Are they concerned about double documentation? Is there an easier way to incorporate digital outreach with telephonic? This information can help develop staff personas that inform retraining and goal setting.

Retrain and rescript

Once you understand your staff’s strengths and concerns, you can build a retraining and rescripting strategy. Rescripting helps ensure that your staff is offering members access to your digital health solution at the right time, and in a way that is relevant to their needs. 

We took a digital-first approach with staff, to say ‘It’s not digital-only, there’s still opportunities to get on the phone with members…but this is the model we’re adopting with our care management program.

April Richardson M.D.
Medical Director, Companion Benefit Alternatives, BlueCross BlueShield South Carolina

Improve digital strategy with tailored KPIs

When your health plan unveils a new digital engagement strategy, staff and care teams will need guidance to achieve your business goals. One way to get your whole team on board is to be clear about new KPIs and expectations from the beginning.

In their Recharge session, all three health plan leaders shared the digital adoption metrics their organizations track. On a weekly basis, they suggest reviewing data such as:

  • Onboarded members
  • Total digital users
  • Number of messages sent

This information will help your plan stay on track with your member onboarding goals, especially early in the implementation process. And you’ll be able to catch downward trends early, making it easier to intervene and get back on track.

On a monthly basis, their plans review data points that help measure deeper engagement. Once members onboard, it’s imperative that staff and care teams continue to foster those relationships. Our panelists recommend tracking metrics like these every month:

  • Digital touchpoints per managed member
  • Percentage of overall cases that are digital
  • Percentage of phone conversations where the app is offered
  • Member decline rate—and the reason why

“You hear anecdotal stories, but being able to track and measure those reasons [for declining the app] has been really insightful,” said Jodi Siegel.

If your health plan members are not downloading or using your digital engagement tool, this information will give your team a better understanding of the reasons why. For example, if members are less comfortable with technology, one way to improve digital onboarding might be for staff to walk members through the app download process while they’re on the phone.

We have a couple of forums in which we solicit staff feedback…that is really pivotal and important in providing constant feedback to our implementation team.

Jessica Daniel, MPH 
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Support staff with continuing education

Once your digital engagement solution is in place, it may be tempting to let your team run on autopilot. But it’s important to continue soliciting staff feedback, so your team can document difficulties and outline a digital quality improvement plan. Giving your staff access to additional training on using your digital tool empowers them to improve their performance. 

There are several ways to request staff feedback on your digital workflows. Some of the strategies panelists use to solicit feedback include:

  • Regular digital surveys
  • Biweekly workgroups
  • “Tips and tricks” webinars

Each health plan also encouraged staff adoption with several initiatives, such as:

  • Mentorships with high-performers
  • Regional incentives
  • Digital-aligned annual review goals

Encouraging staff adoption of digital health solutions can be difficult. The key is transparency: explaining the “why” to your team, and giving them opportunities to engage.

Do you want to hear directly from health plan leaders on how they improved digital adoption and scaled member impact? Watch the webcast, “Methods to strengthen staff capacity and impact,” on-demand now.