A new era in cold-calling has dawned. And although this possiblegame-changing strategy involves just one company and has little todo with sales, its implication could be widespread.

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Related: How doctors might get patients to take theirmedicine

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The company: Equity Healthcare, a health services provider thatmanages plans for some 280,000 people.

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The strategy: According to a recent piece in The Wall Street Journal, toreduce the number of cold calls to plan members reminding them toget regular check-ups and take other actions on behalf of their ownhealth.

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Related: Will health care kiosks replace on-siteclinics?

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Equity Healthcare told The Journal that such calls just weren’tefficient. But, the callers found, a certain group did respond —people with chronic illnesses who had recently engaged in a healthcare activity, such as hospital visit.

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Related: Navigating the evolution of the voluntarymarket

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Those are the folks that the cold callers will be calling goingforward. The idea is that more targeted calls will result in betterhealth for the least healthy but most responsive plan members, andthat the calls will subsequently lead to better outcomes for thecovered group.

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But 280,000 is not a lot of members, you say? EquityHealthcare is owned by the New York City-based private equity firmBlackstone Group., which, in theory at least, has the clout toimplement the strategy throughout its empire and, in so doing,could strongly influence other employers to do the same.

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Other measures to be included in this new strategy, as outlinedin The Journal article, include offering a concierge-type serviceto members who need help settling insurance disputes; expandingfree weight-loss and smoking cessation programs; and helpingmembers achieve other health objectives that, the company hasfound, members tend to engage in more frequently than otheroptions.

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Andreas Mang, Equity Healthcare's COO, told The Journal hehatched the idea several years ago after he reviewed recordings ofcold calls to plan members, far too many of which did not result inthe desired action.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.