More than 94,000 Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) members found support during COVID through an unlikely source: texting.
IEHP’s Social Isolation Texting Program helped seniors and members with disabilities establish routines, remain emotionally connected with friends, and foster healthy habits while staying home.
Using a two-way SMS (text message) system, the program engaged members through a series of texts based on the member interaction and preferences. Some members took to the program platform to share their thoughts, “It’s nice that you are persistent and messaging people, so we know someone out there cares. It is stressful to have to go through COVID, especially for people with health issues, like me.”
The 45-day program included messages focused on staying connected with friends and family, remaining active, finding new hobbies, and provided links to a variety of resources to support these strategies.
“We know loneliness is linked to increased risks in stroke, coronary heart disease, anxiety, stress and depression,” said Amrita Rai, IEHP’s Clinical Director of Behavioral Health. “To combat those impacts, we really wanted to help our vulnerable populations maintain a strong sense of purpose and an opportunity to remain connected to that purpose.”
IEHP members in the program set message frequency and engaged at their own pace. In addition to activity and connection support, members received information links for food, unemployment resources and online courses—most of which were available at no cost.
“Social isolation continues to be a strategic tactic in fighting the spread of COVID-19,” said Rai. “This program was a necessary pivot to keep in touch with our most vulnerable members to ensure connectivity and to let our members know they are not alone.”
IEHP, Inland Empire Health Plan, is a top 10 largest Medicaid health plan and the largest not-for-profit Medicare-Medicaid plan in the country. With a network of more than 6,400 providers and more than 2,000 employees, IEHP serves more than 1.2 million residents in Riverside and San Bernardino counties who are enrolled in Medicaid or Cal MediConnect Plan (Medicare-Medicaid Plan). Through a dynamic partnership with providers and community, award-winning service and innovative products, IEHP is fully committed to advocating for our members and providing them with quality, accessible and wellness-based health care services. For more information, visit www.iehp.org.
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