The Loop

Improve Member Engagement with Online Portal Services

Filed under: Benefits

A key reason for encouraging members to utilize online portal services is to increase knowledge and engagement with their benefits and, ultimately, drive better experiences and improved outcomes. The following are ways organizations can strengthen member connections through online portals.

One Click Access

Many organizations offer an online portal where members can access information for all or most of their benefits. This is much easier than having to log into individual accounts at separate websites. By offering one-stop online access, members can take advantage of a single sign-on (SSO) login and password – so they don’t have to keep track of multiple credentials. This may be the most vital step in getting members to utilize a benefits online portal.

Ensure that this single sign-on is available across all online access points – including computers, tablets, and cell phones. Regardless of the device used, this one URL should give them access to Member-only website pages, such as an online learning platform, FAQs, chat capabilities, insurance benefits, EAP programs, and health plan features such as a plan documents, drug formulary, provider directory, and the ability to compare prices, track claims and manage their account.

Action-Oriented Splash Page

The way to engage members is to offer opportunities for them to take action. One way to do this is to capture their attention as soon as they click on the website. Before they log in, they may see a Splash Page that advertises an event or a feature of the online portal. Promoting an activity that requires a call to action will help foster member engagement. For example, offer the opportunity to:

  • Attend
  • Learn                            
  • Read
  • Lead
  • Interact
  • Connect/follow/like/share
  • Offer feedback
  • Volunteer
  • Contribute
  • Sign a petition

The more events, programs, classes, articles, quizzes, charitable causes, social media links, networking opportunities, etc., offered and promoted, the more members will continue to visit the online portal to check out what’s new to see or do. 

Customize Landing Page

It is important to design the initial home page of an online portal – also referred to as a landing page or dashboard – so that the member can see everything she needs in one place. Each SSO should open up a customized page that ideally greets each member by name. If there is timely information the member should see first, such as a reminder about an upcoming appointment or event she’s scheduled to attend, it should be highlighted as the first thing she sees.

  • Other ways to personalize the landing page include targeted messages such as:
  • Notice for a new training class relevant to the member’s job responsibilities
  • Invitation for volunteer opportunities
  • Promote/sign up for an upcoming event
  • Search the company directory for member contact information
  • Introduce/bio of a new team member (encourage personal welcome messages)
  • Participate in an online community discussion
  • Read timely articles about the organization, industry or products/services
  • Apply for certifications
  • Access links to organization social media profiles or other external links of interest

One way to engage the member so that he regularly visits the portal is to integrate Google Maps with directions to the venues where events, classes, meetings, etc., are being held. The  splash page may be designed so that featured content rotates each time the member signs onto the portal.

Engagement Strategy

An online service portal can help reinforce the numerous advantages participants benefit from as a member of your organization. The objective is to make checking the portal a regular habit. That way, when members seek specific content or have questions, they will be familiar with the site and know how to find what they need without having to pick up the phone or surf the world wide web for information that may not be accurate or relevant.

An online portal also can serve as a central hub that members check daily for personal reminders, such as meetings and appointments, which can be integrated into an In-App Calendar with other customized entries, such as special occasions like coworker birthdays. Offer tools to help organize job responsibilities and personal tasks, such as reminder prompts, list-making, record fitness tracking, eating habits, and mood monitoring.

In the context of healthcare, it is better to provide vetted resources rather than have members search random sites that may give them misinformation. An online portal is a great way to move the needle from fee-for-medical services to adopting a value mindset, in which the efforts of both members and their healthcare providers combine to improve health outcomes.

A customized portal allows health systems to interact closely with plan members in a variety of ways, such as provider access, care navigation, tailored recommendations and content (e.g., age-related articles, reminders for childhood vaccinations, age-appropriate sports suggestions). Offer a 24-hour nurse hotline or chat portal, chatbots for generic information, and other communication channels (secure messaging/emails) that make it easy for members to contact providers as well as manage their health and wellness efforts through a convenient one-stop portal.

Enable Member Editing

In today’s digital society, people are constantly making changes: new address, email, phone number, marital status, emergency contact, etc. For an organization, keeping up with each member’s personal contact information can be a data-entry chore. Moreover, when a member logs onto an online portal and sees his old information remain unchanged, it gives the impression that the organization is out of touch. Make it easy for everyone by allowing logged-in users to update their own personal information with a few mouse clicks.

Encourage Knowledge Sharing

Use your online portal to enable knowledge sharing without requiring users to visit other websites. For example, use a side margin to allow members to see and comment on the organization’s latest social media posts. Push regular polls (and results) as well as other forums and message boards where members can interact and share their thoughts and opinions. Also, request suggestions for additional content topics in the future – perhaps even permit members to submit their own blog entries.

Most importantly, update regularly. Allow for feedback from users, collect and synthesize usage data, make changes as necessary, and refresh content often.

AI Customer Service

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t the cure-all for addressing questions, but it can help portal users quickly access answers to frequently asked questions. AI also can serve as an alternative for HR personnel for other rote activities such as:

  • Help with onboarding
  • Direct users to benefit documents
  • Assist in filing medical claims
  • Make benefit recommendations based on answers to questions 

Through the portal’s website or mobile app, chatbots can provide access to more personalized questions 24/7, while enabling human resources to focus on more complex tasks.

Engagement Benefits

An online portal that requires logging in should emphasize a member-centric experience. Not only does it provide convenient one-stop engagement with the full scope of benefits offered, but it demonstrates that the organization cares about and values each member’s needs. Moreover, access to an online portal enables members to utilize benefits, including managing health and wellness, on their own time in their own home. This means they are likely to spend less time on hold during work hours trying to speak to a representative or schedule an appointment to make changes or clarify their coverage, reducing the need for call centers and administrative staff.

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