Amplifying the Message to Consumers

Consumer engagement in health and health care is about partnerships. The backbone organization of the AF4Q effort in each community was a multi-stakeholder Alliance with the infrastructure to drive health care improvements. Key stakeholders include health plans, physicians, hospitals, employers, and consumers. Alliances capitalized on strategic partnerships to engage consumers.

Use community partners as amplifiers. Community partnerships can help raise awareness, incentivize use of available resources, and promote change to engage consumers. AF4Q Alliances forged new community partnerships to spread the impact of the work being done. In particular, Alliances collect and publicly report information on the quality of care provided in the community to illuminate variation in care, enable consumers to compare providers and hospitals, and spur improvement through increased transparency. Many Alliances focus on promoting the use of these resources.

Court the media to craft traditional and social media campaigns to reach consumers. All Alliances formed relationships with local media—print, radio, and television—to raise awareness of their activities and engage consumers. New media was also a useful tool for Alliances to promote their public reports and consumer engagement activities. Fourteen of the 16 Alliances actively tweet, and 12 use Facebook for marketing.Media attention, both earned and paid, helps Alliances reach new audiences.

Look for additive effects and cultivate collaboration. Engagement strategies that simply provide information (e.g., an education campaign or a single brochure) are appropriate for broad, community-wide communication. Often such approaches are less expensive than more targeted campaigns. Such strategies may not be so successful, however, in influencing consumer behavior as educational or shared decision-making modelsthat physicians and other stakeholders support. Alliances designed strategies to encourage collaboration, peer mentoring, and peer support among consumers with stakeholder assistance and input.

Design or redesign technology to increase accessibility. A number of Alliances redesigned and launched their public reporting websites using AF4Q resources and feedback from consumers in their region. Two Alliances, Washington and Wisconsin, created online characters with accompanying stories to help make their reports more relatable. Both online stories drive significant traffic to their public reports. Memphis developed a mobile phone application to connect consumers with public reports.

Show connections between public reports and community resources to drive conversations on health care quality and value. Alliances engaged in numerous initiatives to improve health and health care in their communities using public reports. Programs such as chronic disease-self management, patient empowerment training, patient-centered medical home (PCMH) transformation, and other activities can be great points for Alliances to engage with consumers about the value and potential uses of publicly reported cost and quality information.