How digital engagement can differentiate TPAs

As a third-party administrator, you can’t be successful if you keep doing the same thing year after year. Competitive fees, efficient processing, and excellent service are expected. You need to do more to differentiate yourself in the market so you can win more customers and keep them longer. For many of our TPA customers the answer is digital engagement.


What is digital engagement?

Digital engagement is more than just a self-service portal or some other technology that provides information on demand. Rather, it’s an online digital resource that drives behavior and supports informed decision-making through a variety of delivery channels and outreach methods including web, mobile, push notifications, email, text messaging, and more.


If that sounds like the type of marketing system only the big commercial health plans can afford to build, think again. TPAs all across the country are making it happen. And in many cases, they’re doing it better because they have an advantage over the big plans: flexibility.


Why TPAs have an advantage in digital engagement

Commercial health plans are highly regulated and tend to have a legacy mindset, which limits their ability to impact member behavior change in any meaningful way. TPAs, working with self-funded employers or other groups, have much greater leeway to use carrots and sticks that drive members to the portal or app and deliver higher levels of engagement. As a result, they can be more tactical and aggressive in their approach. For example, many TPAs work with their customers to set pre-enrollment requirements that drive portal registration. This tactic exposes members to the portal and give them first-hand experience with it.  Others will mandate that certain transactions be limited to the web portal.


In addition, TPAs have greater flexibility with branding and integration. Wrapping engagement strategies in the employer brand rather than your own brand or a vendor’s can increase trust, leading to greater adoption and utilization.


Finally, TPAs are often nimble enough to respond quickly to needs within in the healthcare system. Take, for example, the growing issue of care coordination. As a TPA, you can enable your digital engagement systems to provide members with regular reminders of upcoming appointments or services that will help close gaps in care.


For more tips and ideas, download our free guide: The TPA’s Guide to Boosting Member Engagement.


Partner with your clients for the greatest success

Your efforts to engage members will multiply when you have support from employers or groups. You may even want to give them an incentive, such as sharing the savings associated with paperless EOBs. Another option is to offer a price break on renewal costs for clients who help drive members to self-service channels. A win-win for both parties.


Digital engagement is no longer optional

Today’s consumers are used to going online or using mobile apps to purchase items, do their banking, manage their utility and phone bills, etc. Consumers also expect personalized content and recommendations like those they get from online shopping sites like Amazon. There is so much information around them that they appreciate anyone who culls it down to the most relevant.


That’s why digital engagement is no longer simply a self-service channel. It is the backbone for everything you do to drive better member decisions about their health and healthcare.




Bob Carlson is Vice President of Self-Funded and Specialty Markets. Through product design input and engagement strategy services, Healthx helps healthcare payers drive adoption and utilization of healthcare consumerism solutions including member portals and mobile apps.