I have spent the last 17 years of my career with a focus on creating and producing member facing healthcare documents. During this time I have had the pleasure of working with the top healthcare companies that were looking at options for producing these mandated materials. The main focus was always on speed to market and lowest production cost possible. In today’s print production environment there are a handful of ways to print these materials that will provide cost savings and still produce a nice package.
Healthcare communications are going through a transformation with new designs, distribution techniques and print technologies. More focus is being placed on acquisition through targeted communications and digital color. At the same time, retention documents, such as post enrollment are migrating to more cost effective print and distribution methods. This shift is due in part to the focus on Wellness Programs that allow targeted touch points throughout the life cycle of the contract period, as well as emphasize the focus on staying healthy.
Pre-Enrollment (2nd Sale)
Since Pre-Enrollment is the first point of contact for a potential customer and first impression, more companies are putting emphasis on the use of color. Creating generic “kits” for mass distribution is no longer as effective. Targeted communications outlining member’s specific benefits and enhancing the ease of enrollment are proven trends that help improve enrollment rates.
The combination of traditional print with print on demand (POD) components is also rising in Pre-Enrollment production. Companies take advantage of high color commercial print brochures augmented by targeted POD pieces as a cost effective alternative to full color digital piece.
Post Enrollment (3rd Sale)
Many organizations are choosing to create these in the most economical POD fashion possible by using black variable print on white paper or providing electronically. The migration to a saddle stitched self-cover book provides the most efficient manufacturing process. Many companies are choosing the “no frills” of black digital print on 18# white paper, since the post enrollment documents are typically filed and only referred to when a member requires benefit information. A number of binding techniques are still used, mainly dependent on production equipment availability. However, many organizations have embraced the in-line continuous print with saddle stitching.
A targeted POD Post Enrollment document provides the added benefit of controlling the weight of the mail piece to help offset distributions costs. There are a number of distribution methods that can provide additional savings like: Bound Printed Matter, Standard Mail or other Shipping alternatives.
Even though healthcare companies make Internet provider finders and call centers available to members, the printed directory continues to be highly used. It is perceived as a valuable sales tool. However, the full size traditional web press directory has been largely replaced by an abbreviated directory in a POD environment. This trend is reflected in both pre and post enrollment materials. In these POD scenarios, the abbreviated directory fulfills its role as a sales tool, at the same time you control the print cost, freight and postage. POD directories also allow you to reduce storage and management fees, warehouse touches and obsolescence.
Many healthcare companies continue to print full directories. However, Medicare, state run programs such as Healthy Families, and custom accounts are embracing the targeted POD direction alternative.
Production of healthcare documents will continue to ebb and flow as the larger healthcare organizations push to save distribution cost. Electronic delivery will become the norm for post enrollment documents and pre enrollment materials will migrate to online as our population ages up and we all have iPads. The real trend is working within the regulations to provide the members with the required information within the required amount of time at the lowest cost possible.