As healthcare evolves, public entities are looking for new programs that promise savings and improved outcomes. However, if a change is initiated but poorly managed, it can have a detrimental effect—disrupting members’ access to care. It’s essential to consider the following best practices to ensure a change goes smoothly with minimal disruption:
A plan to track and manage tasks. Every significant change requires a project plan that outlines each action that’s required to implement the change successfully. This project plan should indicate who will be responsible for each activity, the sequence in which these tasks must be completed (with specific start and end dates) and any related dependencies. The project plan must also include critical checkpoints to ensure tasks are completed in a timely manner and that the project as a whole is on track.
Careful consideration for customizations. It’s important to consider and incorporate any unique factors into the project plan. For example, a public entity may have special requirements for managing member eligibility and getting this information to the plan administrator. This data may come from a payroll vendor, a previous administrator, paper-based enrollment forms or a combination of the three. You must flesh out unique requirements first and then incorporate them into the planning to ensure a successful transition.
Weekly meetings with all stakeholders. Communication is critical when implementing a change in health benefits. Public entities should consider hosting weekly meetings to review the status of the overall project. All relevant departments should be present during the meetings, including IT, HR and member services. These meetings help facilitate transparency regarding the overall status of the project. If issues arise, all parties can discuss them openly and agree on a mitigation plan. A weekly meeting cycle will ensure forward momentum toward project completion.
Communications playbook. Public entities should also consider developing a communications playbook, which would outline strategic touchpoints with members throughout the change-management process. Organizations can outline how they plan to keep members informed as the implementation moves forward. For example, when open enrollment nears, employees must understand how to use the enrollment system and where to access information on plan options. A welcome kit might include the member’s ID card, coverage details and information on how to login to the portal for the health plan. The process of building out a communications playbook can also spur discussions on what communication strategies work best with the public entity’s workforce. Some tactics may be more successful than others—for instance, email notifications may resonate more with younger, tech-savvy employees. The more detailed the playbook, the more effective it will be.
Managing Change into the Future
Change is inevitable in health benefits; especially as innovative programs emerge to help employers control rising healthcare costs. Introducing a change can be daunting for public entities, so you should have strategies in place to help navigate the changes that are made.
Best practices can standardize the change-management process. The result is public entities will be able to reap the benefits of savings, while providing improved care and an enhanced experience for their employees.
*The views and opinions expressed in the Public Risk Management Association (PRIMA) blogs are those of each respective author. The views and opinions do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRIMA.*