For employee benefit communicators who haven’t yet incorporated text messaging into your health benefits communication efforts, there are some very good reasons to do so.
1. Helping employees monitor health and improve outcomes
Especially when it comes to health information, people are looking for easily consumable information delivered when they want, ideally through a mobile device (1). This modern communication option should matter to employers because text and messaging alerts have been shown to be important, effective tools in health monitoring (2). These messages can even help change health behaviors among hard-to-reach populations (3) and improve health outcomes (4).
Take diabetes as an example. Communication that encourages getting a comprehensive eye exam could help just 1 person with early detection of diabetes. This chain of events could not only help them improve quality of life, but save big on medical spending. People diagnosed with diabetes, on average, have medical expenditures about 2.3 times higher than those without diabetes. In dollars, that’s $13,700 in medical expenditures per year, of which about $7,900 is attributed directly to the diabetes. (5)
2. Tools like text can mean satisfied employees too
In the workplace, text messages have the potential to not only promote healthier behaviors (6) but also ultimately improve job satisfaction (7). There’s a strong correlation between an employee’s satisfaction with their benefits and their overall job satisfaction; a recent study found that almost 60% of workers who are extremely satisfied with their benefits are also extremely satisfied with their job overall (8).
However, only 48% of employees are satisfied or very satisfied with their benefits(9) – meaning there’s definitely room for improvement. Electronic communications, including SMS text, are becoming a tool to drive such satisfaction (10).
3. The data show texts work
You know programs like text work pretty quickly when you see member view rates and click-through rates are high. In the first 6 months since launching, EyeMed’s member text messages received a very positive member view rate (in the high 90th percentile), a click-through rate double that of email – and best of all—almost no opt-outs. This means it’s working for members.
For employers, what’s even more compelling is knowing that few employees are opting out of receiving text messages, even though it’s easy to do--powerful proof employees find the messages valuable.
4. Text programs can make your job easier
Not only can employee education and awareness can change health outcomes (11), when employees opt in to receiving text messages, a large portion of the benefits educational burden is lifted from employers. Instead, their major task is simply to remind employees to supply their mobile-phone number and email address to receive digital communications. By encouraging employees to sign up for text messages, employers are taking an easy, but impactful step towards improving the vision health – and the overall wellbeing – of their employees.
Program design counts in a smart texting program
So, you may be thinking it’s time to embrace the text. You’ll want to know a bit about the program as you encourage employees to participate. One thing that’s important is that that the electronic communication program uses a trusted, reputable platform to reach members.
EyeMed’s text messages are delivered by Relay Health, a platform used by many leading healthcare companies and insurance providers. We use ExactTarget, a well-known email delivery vendor that’s meticulous about what is allowed through the system and what isn’t.
It’s also vital when members opt-in to electronic communications that the content is engaging and delivers what members need. We give members quick links to short vision wellness videos, stories and interactive content, special vision care offers, benefits reminders, quick tips and how-to guides for easy benefit use.
Text message are a great tool in a digital toolbox of resources that can help employers drive better outcomes more easily and efficiently. Employers who already offer EyeMed benefits can encourage their members to sign up for text alerts by texting "EyeMed" to 73529.
Employers or brokers interested in learning more about EyeMed Vision Care can download our free Challenge the Status Quo brochure.
1: Jackson, Devlon N., et al. "Implications of social media use on health information technology engagement: Data from HINTS 4 cycle 3." Translational behavioral medicine 6.4 (2016): 566-576. https://academic.oup.com/tbm/article-abstract/6/4/566/4563228 .
2: Leah Zallman, Adriana Bearse, Catherine West, David Bor & Danny McCormick (2016) Patient preferences and access to text messaging for health care reminders in a safety-net setting, Informatics for Health and Social Care, 42:1, 32-42, DOI: 10.3109/17538157.2015.1113177. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/17538157.2015.1113177
3: Mayberry, L. S., and S. S. Jaser. "Should there be an app for that? The case for text messaging in mHealth interventions." Journal of internal medicine 283.2 (2018): 212-213. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/getIdentityKey?redirectTo=http%3A%2F%2Fonlinelibrary.wiley.com%2Fdoi%2F10.1111%2Fjoim.12687%2Ffull%3Fwol1URL%3D%2Fdoi%2F10.1111%2Fjoim.12687%2Ffull&userIp=184.108.40.206&doi=10.1111%2Fjoim.12687
4: Badawy, Sherif M., et al. "Text messaging and mobile phone apps as interventions to improve adherence in adolescents with chronic health conditions: a systematic review." JMIR mHealth and uHealth 5.5 (2017). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5447825/
5: American Diabetes Association, diabetes.org http://www.diabetes.org/advocacy/news-events/cost-of-diabetes.html?loc=superfooter
6: Sheer, Vivian C., and Ronald E. Rice. "Mobile instant messaging use and social capital: Direct and indirect associations with employee outcomes." Information & Management 54.1 (2017): 90-102. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378720616300349
7: Blake, Holly, et al. "Active8! Technology-based intervention to promote physical activity in hospital employees." American Journal of Health Promotion 31.2 (2017): 109-118. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.4278/ajhp.140415-QUAN-143
8: “Employee Benefits Key to Job Satisfaction, Survey Finds,” accessed March 1, 2108, at http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2017/05/02/employee-benefits-key-job-satisfaction-survey-finds/.
9: Fronstin, Paul, and Lisa Greenwald. "Value of Workplace Benefits: Findings from the 2016 Health and Voluntary Workplace Benefits Survey." (2017). https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2955958 .
10: Blake et al.
11: Renda, Susan, Marianne Baernholdt, and Kathleen Becker. "Evaluation of a worksite diabetes education program at a large urban medical center." Workplace health & safety 64.1 (2016): 17-23. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2165079915607869.