What Prevents Medicare Advantage Plans from Offering 5-Star Websites? [Part 1]

Posted by Alan Mittermaier

While only a handful of 2017 Medicare Advantage plans can boast 5-Star CMS overall performance ratings (total of 14 by my count), every plan is capable of building a 5-Star website for their key target audiences — plan members, caregivers, prospects.  Yet, after mapping Medicare plan websites annually since 2009 for the MedicareWebWatch project, it is still disappointing to observe the low engagement experience among so many websites.

The new 2017 MedicareWebWatch project findings breakout 13 “Benchmark” or 5-Star websites plus another 20 “Distinguished” websites.  These highly-rated websites are  not exclusively among the largest Medicare Advantage players.  Many mid-size plan websites are among the highest rated as well.  The common thread among these “Benchmark” and  “Distinguished” websites is their commitment to elevating the user engagement experience.

As a Medicare Advantage plan member and 67 year old boomer, I have a first-hand perspective both from navigating all 147 Medicare plan websites recently and from my daily use of an array of websites for personal purposes — news, banking, travel, purchases.  For starters, here are 5 simple bolt-on features that every Medicare plan website should provide for enhancing the user engagement experience — with examples.

  1. Site Map — Over 20% (31 of 147) of sites fail to provide a site map in either a drop-down format or a dedicated page.  This is comparable to publishing a book without a table of contents.  Aetna and  PrimeTime Health Plan provide the best examples.  No excuses for making website visitors  guess the location of content they wish to view.
  2. Search Box — Just short of 20% (27 of 147) of sites do not bother to provide a topic search box for either site-only search or Google internet search.  The search box feature is comparable to the index in a book.  Examples are numerous so I randomly picked CDPHP as a sure winner.  Again, why leave visitors guessing where to locate content?
  3. Security Certificate Display — Only 22% (33 of 147) of sites bother to display their security certification anywhere.  Yes, visitors may be aware of being on a secured site if they recognize the URL address with https://.  Even though few Medicare plan sites handle payment transactions, visitors still appreciate the assurance that they are accessing a secured site.  For examples, visit HealthSun or Kaiser Permanente sites and scroll to the bottom of the home page.
  4. Medicare Fraud and Abuse Alert  — Almost unbelievable that 13% (19 of 147) of sites do not provide basic information on reporting Medicare fraud or abuse.  This is one of the most common scams targeting Medicare beneficiaries and involves simple messaging to keep older adults aware.  Many good examples but try Excellus as one format and MVP for posting scam alerts.
  5. Website Feedback — Only 30% (45 of 147) of sites invite or encourage visitor feedback about their website experience.  Foresee, Opinion Lab, Survey Monkey  are the most common proprietary pop-up surveys but a simple email click option is the easiest way to allow visitors to provide kudos or criticism that can verify the user experience.   Check out the Opinion Lab option at BCBS Michigan.

(This is the first in a series highlighting the 2017 MedicareWebWatch project findings)

Kaiser Permanente Repeats as #1 Medicare Website in 2017 “Madness in March” Results

Posted by Alan Mittermaier

Congratulations to Kaiser Permanente and its Medicare plan website, Medicare.KaiserPermanente.org, on repeating as winner of the 2017 “Madness in March” competition among 147 Medicare plan websites surveyed by HealthMetrix Research Inc.  This is the sixth year since 2009 that Medicare.KaiserPermanente.org has been recognized as the overall top Medicare website.   Kaiser Permanente’s website advanced through five rounds of matchups that featured 32 top-scoring Medicare websites.  The complete “Madness in March” bracket results can be viewed at — 2017 MWW Madness bracket FINAL

The annual independent MedicareWebWatch project tracked 50 common and advanced features across four categories — content, member connectivity, design, transparency.   HealthMetrix Research recognized a total of 13 “benchmark” and 20 “distinguished” Medicare plan websites in a February 22 PRNewswire release.  See additional details about MedicareWebWatch website certification at – www.MedicareWebWatch.com

MedicareWebWatch National Certification Recognizes Best 2017 Medicare Advantage Websites

Columbus, OH (February 22, 2017) – HealthMetrix Research Inc., an independent research firm, announces the selection of 34 Medicare Advantage plan websites for MedicareWebWatch national certification.  MedicareWebWatch national certification recognizes excellence in Medicare plan website content, member connectivity, design and transparency.  Fourteen “benchmark” websites and 20 “distinguished” websites were selected from 147 Medicare Advantage websites after comprehensive site reviews.

According to HealthMetrix Research Inc. president Alan Mittermaier, “These best-of-breed websites demonstrate their growing value as an asset for Medicare Advantage plans to achieve enrollment and customer satisfaction goals.  Providing a high-value, positive website experience that engages plan members and caregivers will also deliver return on investment in the long-term.  HealthMetrix Research is pleased to recognize these organizations for their forward-looking commitment to website relevance and readiness.”

MedicareWebWatch national certification is based on HealthMetrix Research’s mapping methodology that weighs 50 website features related to:  plan-specific content; external content resources; member connectivity; design and navigation; transparency and privacy disclosure.  Certification details are available at www.MedicareWebWatch.com.  HealthMetrix Research Inc. neither recommends nor endorses specific Medicare plans or products.  Also see PRNewswire release at — http://prn.to/2m86gcz

Benchmark Websites

Aetna
AvMed
Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan
Florida Blue
Group Health Cooperative
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield
Humana
Kaiser Permanente
MVP Health Plan
Priority Health
Providence Health Plans
Rocky Mountain Health Plans
Security Health Plan
Tufts Health Plan

Distinguished Websites

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western NY
Blue Shield of Northeastern NY
Capital Blue Cross
EmblemHealth
Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield
Fallon Health Plan
Health Alliance Plan
Health First
HealthPartners
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield
HMSA Blue Cross Blue Shield of Hawaii
Independent Health
MCS Classicare
Peoples Health
Presbyterian Health Plan
UCare
Univera
UPMC

Keeping Medicare website external content current still low priority for many websites

HealthMetrix Research’s recent MedicareWebWatch findings reveal that Medicare Advantage plans are often not diligent on posting current  external content.  As case in point, only 25 websites from 150+ sites included in the 2016 MedicareWebWatch mapping project provide details about Medicare “national coverage determinations”.  NCDs are not required to be posted under the current CMS Medicare Marketing Guidelines, however, they are informative communications about Medicare coverage for newly-approved diagnostic, treatment, or prevention services.

Congratulations to the only Medicare plan websites below where the two recent 2016 NCDs were found posted.

Central HP                Essence
HealthPlus           MCSUCare

Below are the two recent 2016 NCDs with links to the respective CMS.gov pages.

Percutaneous Left Atrial Appendage (LAA) Closure Therapy
Effective February 8, 2016

Stem Cell Transplantation
Effective January 27, 2016

 

Kaiser Permanente Retains #1 Rated Medicare Website Bragging Rights

Congratulations to Kaiser Permanente and its Medicare plan website, Medicare.KaiserPermante.org, for scoring the top rating among 156 Medicare plan websites surveyed recently by HealthMetrix Research Inc.  This is the fifth year since 2009 that Medicare.KaiserPermante.org has been recognized as the overall top Medicare website.   The annual independent MedicareWebWatch benchmark survey tracked 50 common and advanced features across four categories — content, member connectivity, design, transparency.   HealthMetrix Research recognized a total of 10 “benchmark” and 25 “distinguished” Medicare plan websites in a February 22 PRNewswire release.  See additional details about MedicareWebWatch website certification at – www.MedicareWebWatch.com

Spring is Ideal Time to Develop 2017 Website Build-out Strategy

HealthMetrix Research President Alan Mittermaier has an extensive background from advising over 60 Medicare Advantage sponsors and research organizations including Mathematica Policy Research, National Council on Aging (NCOA) and Research Triangle International. Mr. Mittermaier also offers his unique perspective as a Medicare Advantage plan enrollee.  No other user knows more about Medicare plan website content, connectivity, design and transparency.

Each webinar accommodates up to 20 attendees and can be recorded for your organization’s internal use. Note: The registration fee ($750) can be credited towards the 2016 MedicareWebWatch certification licensing fee.  Click here to view webinar dates/times and to register today!

HealthMetrix Research Selects Best-of-Breed Medicare Advantage Websites for 2016 MedicareWebWatch National Certification

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — HealthMetrix Research Inc., an independent research firm, announces the selection of 35 Medicare Advantage plan websites for MedicareWebWatch national certification.  MedicareWebWatch certification recognizes excellence in Medicare plan website content, member connectivity, design and transparency.  Ten “benchmark” websites and 25 “distinguished” websites were selected from 156 Medicare Advantage websites after comprehensive site reviews.

Among the 2016 certified websites, four are recognized also for achieving highest accessibility scores.  These sites offer the latest user-friendly technology to allow disabled visitors to fully access website content.  Another five websites are noted for providing transparency related to advanced content and privacy disclosure.  Continue to see 2016 benchmark and distinguished websites...