NEWSLETTER: HealthPartners Uses Social Media to Improve Quality of Care

When it comes to quality, not all health plans are equal. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) recently released its Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2016-2017, and ACHP’s community-based plans continue to top the list. In Minnesota, HealthPartners has been recognized by NCQA as the highest-quality commercial plan in the state for the 12th year in a row, receiving a rating of 4.5. An innovative ad strategy that challenged and educated the community helped the health plan maintain its spot at the top of the list.

The nonprofit insurer, which serves Minnesota and Wisconsin, is leveraging social media to improve public health. HealthPartners developed a Facebook campaign to increase awareness and reduce stigma around chlamydia screening using data to target specific members in a specific way.

“It’s a hard one to change perceptions on,” says HealthPartners Associate Medical Director for Quality Andrew Zinkel, M.D.

The program benefits women in the region and also contributes to the high quality of care HealthPartners delivers. The Facebook campaign targeted personalized messaging not only to members, but to all young women between 18 and 24 in the area.  In a region that generally underperforms on the chlamydia screening measure, HealthPartners scored in the 80th national percentile and received a measure rating of 4. HealthPartners is the only commercial plan in Wisconsin and Minnesota rated above a 3 on this measure. HealthPartners has been improving little by little over the last several years.

For the social media campaign, HealthPartners needed to reach women in their early 20s, the highest-risk population. Young people can be a difficult demographic to pinpoint, as many individuals under 25 are still on a parent’s health insurance plan. Since fewer members of this age group have their own health coverage, HealthPartners had not previously attempted to target young adults.

HealthPartners segmented its audience into populations and developed messages that would resonate. Facebook provided the ideal platform. Young people are active users of the social-networking site, and it offered a level of privacy when discussing a sensitive topic. Facebook users were able to view the ads that popped up on their newsfeeds without publishing to their page. The ads would appear in a user’s content stream but were not visible to others on Facebook.

Facebook ads were developed by testing a series of images and copy and implementing the combination with the highest traffic. Real-time modification of advertising efforts proved valuable, allowing HealthPartners to adapt to audience feedback instantly. The ads directed users to the HealthPartners website. From the homepage, HealthPartners members were able to set up an appointment. HealthPartners measured the success of the program by recording the number of clicks on ads and clicks that lead to screenings.

HealthPartners is working to change the standard of care by encouraging across-the-board screenings for chlamydia. The plan’s focus on care delivery systems is one of the reasons it remains a top performer on quality.

“The campaign has gone a long way to reduce the stigma around chlamydia screenings,” says Dr. Zinkel. “Challenging and educating the community proved effective.”

HealthPartners has a toolkit available for other plans that aim to use the campaign as a template for similar outreach programs.


Alaina Monismith
-Communications Specialist