Social media needs a place in wellness programs

Logging on to Facebook may be more beneficial than you might think.

At a Managed Care Executive Group forum held in Fort Lauderdale this week, 94 percent of attendees said social networking technology is a critical tool for driving consumer engagement in health care. More than half (56 percent) said it’s a must-have. And consumer engagement is a top five priority at the CEO level according to 61 percent of the attendees.

Engaging with consumers during the pivotal time of health reform is especially important, says WellTok Inc., the developer of social health network, CaféWell, who released the forum data.

“The results demonstrate that with 2014 and health insurance exchanges not far over the horizon, it’s understandable that payer executives are very focused on solutions to increase consumer engagement,” says WellTok co-founder Jeff Cohen.

Still, the survey results and discussions at the conference revealed that the industry is uncertain about how to take advantage of social networking technology to achieve its goals. Though 78 percent of attendees’ companies have Facebook pages and 57 percent have a Twitter account, only 22 percent reported having any of their social activities tied back to the health plan’s wellness programs.

“Applying social networking technology, such as CaféWell, as a component of wellness programs is quickly proving to drive dramatic engagement improvement,” Cohen says. “Customer results have demonstrated 22 percentage point increases in consumers’ positive brand opinions along with significant improvements in member health behavior, such as 48 percent exercising more often and 29 percent losing weight.”

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