As healthcare organizations continue to battle negative operating margins and rising healthcare costs, efforts to engage and grow patients and members will be critical, particularly among populations where significant healthcare disparities exist.
Engagement Strategies for Multicultural Members
Although most healthcare organizations are already prioritizing market engagement and awareness within diverse communities, knowing how to take the first step and which strategies will work can be a challenge.
For multicultural audiences, strategies should be consumer-centric and recognize the diversity and individuals within these communities. Here are some considerations, ULG’s Community Engagement Program Manager, Leandro Encarnacion, shared with us.
1. Understand the Target Markets
Before developing messaging, marketing campaigns, and engagement strategies, the first step for any healthcare organization is to have a comprehensive understanding of the specific patient or member populations they want to target.
Gathering demographic and industry data is necessary, but member surveys alone are not enough.
AI-enabled technology can help to uncover vital insights such as ethnicity and language preference and provide detailed profiles of member populations.
By taking into consideration the languages, cultural factors, and religious beliefs at play, they can identify potential barriers and predict how people are likely to perceive and engage with the healthcare system.
2. Build Trust With Simple, Clear Communications
Yet for linguistic and culturally diverse populations, the challenges are even more significant.
A 2022 study in the journal Patient Education and Counseling found that 82% of people in a low-income, multilingual cohort reported at least one negative experience when it came to seeking health information. Plus, those with limited health literacy reported more negative experiences than those who were health literate.
Healthcare organizations must prioritize transparency and focus their efforts on improving cultural competency, which is vital to increasing health literacy and building trust.
For example, providing insurance enrollment information in a member’s native language is a good first step, but communications must be simplified and written in a way that members understand what they’re signing up for.
Surprise billing is another challenge that affects the general population, but even more so for multicultural members where language is often a barrier.
Providing information and advocacy about deductibles, co-pays, and asking for itemized bills, for example, can help.
Additionally, cultural adaptation, a data-driven approach that integrates an individual’s cultural norms, beliefs, values, language, and literacy skills should be applied to all communications.
Cultural adaption takes into consideration the messaging and the medium and predicts how someone is likely to engage in their healthcare.
3. Prioritize Diverse Staffing
Healthcare staff needs to be a reflection of the community they’re serving because it allows people to feel understood, builds trust, and makes the experience more valuable and meaningful—all of which improve engagement.
When members work with a staff that understands their culture and speaks their language, they receive the information in a way they understand and can process.
While healthcare workforce shortages are an ongoing challenge, working with a healthcare translation services partner that can provide engagement solutions instead of hiring full-time staff members can help fill the void.
4. Connect With the Community
Healthcare organizations that want to improve engagement must focus their efforts on building trusted, genuine relationships with multicultural members.
One place to start is to look for ways to be active in the community at a grassroots level.
For example, collaborating with local, diverse groups, and cultural organizations, and attending diversity-focused meetings all year long—not only during open enrollment—can increase visibility, awareness, and reach.
Additionally, organizations should develop programming and events, and forge partnerships that are focused on the culture of the community, which fosters understanding, builds trust, and creates deeper connections with members.
Recently, we worked with a client to help people obtain coverage through the Marketplace by having a presence at a community event hosted by the Charlotte Football Club, a professional soccer team.
5. Develop Targeted, Multicultural Marketing Campaigns
Healthcare systems and payers are interested in growing their reach by tapping into multicultural populations, and the best way to do that is by aligning their messaging with culture and language.
They must use the data they’ve gathered about their target markets to develop marketing campaigns and events that show an understanding of various cultures and ethnicities, appeal to specific interests, and meet people where they are.
It’s also important to recognize that engagement strategies are not one-size-fits-all and must be tailored for specific target markets.
Recently, we partnered with Centro Para Familias Hispanas in Raleigh, NC, an organization that provides referrals, counseling, and other services to low-income Hispanic families.
Since most of their population doesn’t speak English and lacks awareness about the benefits available through the Marketplace, we provided navigators who are available to meet with consumers once a week and help them obtain coverage.
We also hosted a booth at a “Dia de los muertos” (Day of the Dead) festival to share information about the Marketplace and gather consumer information, which drove enrollment appointments.
Another idea might include having a presence at music events and food festivals where there is a large population of Puerto Rican and Dominicans.
Partnering with cultural and language experts can ensure campaigns and events are effective and also enable organizations to create long-lasting relationships with their members.
Effectively engaging multicultural members requires gathering data and insights, an understanding of cultural and language differences, and connecting with members with personalized, targeted campaigns.
Learn how a major U.S. health insurer successfully entered new diverse markets with our Community Engagement solution. Read the case study.
How ULG Can Help
ULG has more than 35 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Our healthcare engagement solutions are tailored to improve health outcomes in culturally and linguistically diverse populations.