Harnessing health plan enrollee data to boost membership in patient-powered research networks

Academic Article


  • Background: Patient-powered research networks (PPRNs) have been employing and exploring different methods to engage patients in research activities specific to their conditions. One way to intensify patient engagement is to partner with payer stakeholders. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of two common payer-initiated outreach methods (postal mail versus email) for inviting prospective candidates to participate in their initiatives. Methods: This descriptive study linked members of a nationally-representative private insurance network to four disease-specific PPRN registries. Eligible members meeting diagnostic criteria who were not registered in any of the four PPRNs by 02/28/2018 were identified, and randomly assigned to either the mail or email group. They were contacted in two outreach efforts: first on 04/23/2018, and one follow-up on 05/23/2018. New registration rates by outreach method as of 8/31/2018 were determined by relinking. We compared registrants and non-registrants using bivariate analysis. Results: A total of 14,571 patients were assigned to the mail group, and 14,574 to the email group. Invitations were successfully delivered to 13,834 (94.9%) mail group and 10,205 (70.0%) email group members. A small but significantly larger proportion of mail group members, (n = 78; 0.54, 95% Confidence Interval [CI] {0.42-0.67%}) registered in PPRNs relative to the email group (n = 24; 0.16, 95% CI {0.11-0.25%}), p < 0.001. Members who registered had more comorbidities, were more likely to be female, and had marginally greater medical utilization, especially emergency room visits, relative to non-registrants (52.0% vs. 42.5%, p = 0.05). Conclusion: A health plan outreach to invite members to participate in PPRNs was modestly effective. Regular mail outperformed less costly email. Providing more value-add to participants may be a possible way to increase recruitment success.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Chen X; Agiro A; Nowell WB; Loud S; McBurney R; Young K; Sutphen R; Bourquardez Clark E; Burroughs CM; Curtis JR
  • Volume

  • 20
  • Issue

  • 1