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Message received: BlueCare Tennessee develops mobile texting platform to better connect with members

For members enrolled in BlueCare Tennessee – our Medicaid managed care subsidiary – communication efforts just became even more convenient.

Thanks to a new communications channel, we’ve removed the pressure from keeping track of your personal health information and scheduling necessary appointments.

In 2017, BlueCare introduced a new, HIPAA-compliant communications channel – a mobile text messaging platform – for members. This new platform provides general health plan messages and reminders for recommended screenings and medical appointments.

“Several years ago, BlueCare recognized the way that we were communicating with our members – primarily through physical mail – needed to change,” says Brandy Matthews, outreach program manager for BlueCare. “We began looking into options for how to best do this.”

With data showing that 73 percent of the BlueCare membership has a mobile number, a texting tool was the logical next step.

The outreach team envisioned an ideal scenario: Connected members are notified via text on their mobile device with a message that directs them to a secure, personalized website. This website would need to:

  • Display full protected health information
  • Provide a complete history of past interactions in a single message feed
  • Create an individualized experience by providing messages tailored to members’ health needs, prompting them to take action
  • Not require an app download to participate
BlueCare secure text platform
A BlueCare member can text the keyword “BlueCare” to 73529. Once texted, they receive the secure message detailed in the above left screen shot. Once the member clicks the URL in the message, they will be taken to the right screen shot and be asked to enter two identifying pieces of information, as well as accept the terms to continue.

“Where do I click?”

Making this resource easily accessible and intuitive was crucial to its implementation and success.

“Through this connection, we give our members faster and easier access to their personal information,” Brandy says. “We felt in order to remain competitive with other health plans as well as modernize our member experience, we had to persistently pursue a texting platform.”

“This technology will allow us to be more timely in delivering communications in the mode members prefer.”

To develop the infrastructure, BlueCare partnered with with Relay Network, a vendor specializing in mobile engagement.

“BlueCross can now meet its members’ expectations for easy, personalized service through proactive mobile communications, says Brie Tascione, Relay’s chief marketing officer. “Relay does not require customers to download an app, removing friction that can get in the way of an easy interaction.”

To connect with the platform, a BlueCare member can:

  • Call the 800 number listed on the sticker on the front of their ID card.
  • Text a specific code to opt in through a variety of our member materials.
  • Sign up during agent onboarding, when a BlueCare representative is already on the line with the member and can ask if they want to begin receiving texts.

One of the goals of the platform is to use targeted campaigns to reach younger BlueCare members , as a large portion of the membership is under age 21.

“Teens and young adults are a more difficult population to reach,” Brandy says. “They are much more likely to engage with a text message than with a piece of mail or a phone call. Our teen well care message campaign – which promoted a wellness screening – saw 35 percent of the members who received the message actually click the link to get more detailed information.”

So far, more than 158,000 members – 28 percent of our BlueCare population – have signed up to receive relevant, timely information  via the platform.

A plan – and platform – in action

Once the specific need for such a secure channel was established in early 2017, the BlueCare digital and outreach teams pitched the idea to the Division of TennCare, who has oversight over how BlueCare works with members and has encouraged us to explore new ways to reach them.

TennCare approved the idea with enthusiastic support. From there, BlueCare and Relay launched the platform in June 2017. Newly eligible BlueCare members are made aware of the platform and are encouraged to sign up when they receive their new ID cards.

Next steps for 2018

Though the service is currently exclusive to BlueCare members, we’re looking to expand its use.

“This messaging platform has helped us build stronger relationships and serve BlueCare members in a new way, so we’re looking at how we can apply its capabilities to other members,” says Aaron Collier, digital marketing manager at BlueCross. “We have some interesting ideas that could help members better manage their health needs.”

Our overall goal is to encourage our members to lead healthier lives – and this platform makes it easier for them to do so.

About Jesse Thompson, Principal Communications Specialist

A photo of the authorJesse joined the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee corporate communications team in 2017. A Chattanooga native, he has more than 15 years’ experience in content creation, management, and strategy for consumer audiences, including a six-year stint in health care marketing.

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