For men in the United States, access to healthcare is generally worse and more expensive than similarly developed nations, according to research from an international study. Due to high costs, poor public health, and frequent lack of engagement, American men are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions, mental health issues, and high rates of hypertension. They’re also less likely than women to take an active role in their health and participate in preventive care screenings.
During Men’s Health Month, health plans can reflect on how to better engage male members and close care gaps with early detection of life-altering conditions. Preventive health screenings and checkups are essential to diagnosing many of the top conditions that impact men’s health while they are still in treatable stages. Creating and maintaining a relationship with male members is important to close critical HEDIS® and Star Ratings clinical gaps, help ensure strong CAHPS® member experience survey results, and improve retention.
Let’s explore effective engagement strategies for men to become more involved in their health as part of our monthly Closing the Gap series.
Start at the beginning
According to a 2022 Cleveland Clinic survey of 1,000 U.S. men, 55% did not have regular health screenings. Responses from men of color indicated that 63% did not schedule routine doctors’ visits. Additionally, one-third of those surveyed stated they had never been screened for prostate, bladder, or testicular cancer. Men in the United States are also less likely to have a primary source of care and more likely to skip necessary check-ups because of cost, according to a Commonwealth Fund study. As undiagnosed conditions worsen without treatment that could have been provided by a lower-acuity clinician, men are more likely to visit the emergency department, yielding costly medical bills and perpetuating a detrimental cycle.
A 2022 poll conducted by Orlando Health found that a third of the men surveyed thought they didn’t need checkups, while 65% believed they could skip seeing a doctor because they’re “naturally healthier than most people.” Because of these long-held beliefs, plans must prioritize educating and motivating their male members to be preemptive about scheduling routine appointments.
Engaging members through personalized care
Commonwealth Fund researchers noted, “Whether it’s stubbornness, an aversion to appearing weak or vulnerable, or other reasons, men go to the doctor far less than women do.” Tailored outreach is important to overcome the cultural norms that can discourage men from accessing and becoming involved in their own care.
How can health plans motivate their male members to get involved in their healthcare journey? Here are some strategies to help improve engagement:
- Motivate providers to offer extended hours or online appointment scheduling for easier access
- Use targeted health messaging that appeals to men's values and interests
- Deploy workplace wellness programs and community health fairs to reach men who may not otherwise seek healthcare services
- Work with providers to encourage them to offer male-friendly healthcare environments, such as private waiting rooms and male healthcare providers, to increase men's comfort and willingness to seek care
Consistent, personalized communication is critical to ensuring male members are scheduling and attending necessary appointments and adhering to medication properly. Public health campaigns and education efforts help to break down the stigma surrounding men's health issues, encouraging men to seek help when needed and promoting a culture of wellness.
Member engagement solutions like Cotiviti’s Eliza® platform can provide annual appointment reminders and education about preventative screenings to patients at the right time and place through the communication platform of their choice. Males who were engaged with Eliza for appointment scheduling, appointment reminders, and preventive education closed care gaps at an average of 2–7% higher than those who were unengaged, according to a 2022 Eliza client study. Maintaining a strong relationship with members who are satisfied with their care is a vital component of closing care gaps.
A 2018 study of individual-level HEDIS measure scores found that the quality of care is least favorable to men in low-performing Medicare Advantage plans. Understanding the most impactful measures to target for performance improvement and the resources to allocate is critical. Adding a predictive tool, such as Cotiviti’s Star Intelligence with optional integration to Cotiviti's Quality Intelligence tool for HEDIS measurement and reporting, can empower plans to identify and prioritize the actions needed to offer better care to their Medicare Advantage populations.
By implementing these strategies and collaborating with healthcare providers, policymakers, and public health advocates, health plans can help to improve men's engagement with healthcare, leading to better health outcomes and a stronger, more resilient population.
Join us in July as we highlight National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month as part of our Closing the Gap series.
Close care gaps with Cotiviti. See how our solutions empower health plans to shrink gaps in care by optimizing member engagement and helping to improve overall Stars Ratings and HEDIS measures.
HEDIS® is a registered trademark of the National Committee for Quality Assurance.
CAHPS® is a registered trademark of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).