The Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC) is a public regulatory commission. The 15 Commissioners are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Maryland Senate. The mission of MHCC is to plan for health system needs, promote informed decision making, increase accountability, and improve access in a rapidly changing healthcare environment by providing timely and accurate information on availability, cost, and quality of services to policymakers, purchasers, providers, and the public. MHCC is seeking a contractor to support “Wear The Cost,” an episode of care, consumer-centric price transparency initiative (https://www.wearthecost.org), which provides health care cost and quality information to consumers in a consumer-friendly format. The Contractor will be responsible for developing and executing a communications plan and strategies to reach audiences, which includes consumers, stakeholders in the healthcare industry, and policymakers. Data and content on the Wear The Cost website are updated every 6 to 9 months approximately, and a focused outreach campaign is conducted with each update. This Contract will support ongoing public engagement, education, and outreach activities, as well as promotional campaigns for all updated releases of the website that occur under the contract period.
In September 2014, MHCC was awarded grant funds from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)/CCIIO Rate Review/Medical Pricing Transparency Grant Program, Cycle IV, to establish and improve data collection, integrate data with other datasets, and promote data dissemination and transparency. In an effort to promote medical pricing transparency, MHCC developed a consumer-focused website titled ‘Wear The Cost’ to display health care prices for entire episodes of care that allow the user to review costs of health care interventions and compare hospitals by cost and quality measures. This cost and quality information was developed using episode of care bundling software.
With the first release of the Wear The Cost website, cost and quality results for four (4) procedural episodes of care were displayed based on data from 2014/2015 claims for the commercially-insured population in Maryland, the most recently available data at the time of that initial launch. MHCC started with commercial data; the data staff is most familiar with since it comes from Maryland’s Medical Care Data Base (MCDB)1 . In July 2019, Wear The Cost relaunched with upgrades that include a redesign of the site, along with the addition of 2015/2016 commercial fully-insured and government self-funded members’ claims data. The new redesign of the consumer-centric website enables seamless inclusion of additional years of data, new measures, and episode information for different payer/population cohorts, such as Medicare and Medicaid. MHCC’s goal is to regularly add new information, promote the website, and engage and educate consumers. Since the initial release, MHCC has since added results using commercial claims data from 2015/2016 and 2016/2017, and currently is in the process of including similar episode of care results based on 2018/2019 commercial claims data, with an anticipated released date of October 10th, 2020.
Since the objective of ‘Wear The Cost’ is to educate consumers and provide quality content, the redesign also focused on enhancing the consumer experience with the site. The website is now more intuitive, has swift navigation capabilities, and includes resources that are easily accessible. It also has a new feature that includes an online appeal that consumers can sign to show their support and urge doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies to work together to make prices widely available. To date, the Wear The Cost community outreach and stakeholder engagement activities have been well received. The media presence and social media channels used to broaden its reach are also proving to be successful. To successfully continue public engagement and outreach for this website, MHCC seeks a highly experienced and innovative communications team to support the continuing development and implementation of a comprehensive public-facing communications strategy for the Wear The Cost initiative. The strategic plan will include such tasks as public education, press releases, strategic messaging, developing compelling and engaging blogs, social media content and monitoring, and additional stakeholder engagement to advance Wear The Cost’s mission to reach a broader audience. Organizations with previous experience in healthcare and healthcare communications are encouraged to apply
Scope of Work:
The scope of work under this Contract spans from the upcoming release of 2018/2019 commercial data results to continuing work for past versions of the website. The key deliverables will include the creation and ongoing support of core tasks related to the most recent commercial data release; plans for outreach and promotion of the upcoming 2018/2019 commercial data release; social media planning; development of relevant editorial content; a media kit, infographics, and planning and execution of a press conference; and additional materials and tasks, as appropriate. The ultimate goal is to reach a broader audience through engagement on social media, increase the impact of the website’s information through stakeholder engagement, and increase awareness and use of calls-toaction, such as the “Sign the Appeal” campaign
The Contractor shall provide the following services: A. Public Relations Plan Development and Implementation The plan shall describe the overall dissemination and outreach strategy. A key component of this plan is the development of resonant, timely, accurate, and easily comprehensible messages for consumers, providers, other stakeholders, and the media. The Contractor’s plan shall include but not be limited to:
3) risk mitigation strategy,
4) ‘Wear The Cost’ website content promotion,
5) consumer and stakeholder engagement,
6) identifying opportunities for partnership with other organizations,
7) identifying events and functions, such as those sponsored by the Network for Regional Health Improvement (NRHI), both live and virtual, to help promote the website, and
8) creating awareness campaigns to enhance the visibility and reach of the Wear The Cost
The Contractor shall meet with MHCC staff and other MHCC contractors for regular updates during the duration of the Contract. The purpose of these meetings will be to plan and review draft deliverables, resolve impediments to meeting deliverables, and facilitate timely decision making. 1. The Contractor shall schedule a Kick-Off Meeting, for no less than 1 hour but no more than 4, within 5 days of Contract Commencement via webinar or teleconference with the Contract Monitor; 2. The Contractor shall meet biweekly via webinar or teleconference with the Contract Monitor and MHCC staff, to discuss progress on assigned tasks for no less than 2 hours but no more than 4.
C. Social Media Messaging and Monitoring 1. The Contractor will manage all social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, and Blog) for the project. 2. The Contractor shall produce five (5) original posts per week tailored for the Wear The Cost social media outlets – Facebook and Twitter – targeting Maryland consumers, health policymakers, and healthcare sector audiences. a) Identify and/or coin appropriate hashtags or use tags of other users. b) Identify and/or produce graphics and infographics that visually represent key constructs of the website. c) All posts shall be submitted every Monday to the Contract Monitor for review and approval before posting
d) If revisions are required, the revised iteration shall be provided to the Contract Monitor no later than Wednesday of that week. 3. The Contractor shall perform regular monitoring of ‘Wear The Cost’ social media presence, including the official social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, as well as activities and hashtag references to the Wear The Cost initiative. a) A report shall be provided to the Contract Monitor bi-weekly and shall include audience traffic, social media interaction, and source of traffic. 4. The Contractor shall draft responses, weekly, to comments and questions from all ‘Wear The Cost’ social media outlets or that directly address the Wear The Cost initiative. All responses shall be reviewed and approved by MHCC staff before being shared with the public.
D. Public Relations Campaign and Advertising
The Contractor shall conduct a public relations campaign to maintain and build consumer interest in the site needed to support the most recent website release and the upcoming launch of the 2018/2019 commercial data release, along with other content on the ‘Wear The Cost’ website. 1. The Contractor shall build upon previous advertising campaign assets to develop and manage a results-oriented public engagement campaign. This deliverable shall include: a) creating, managing, and executing social media advertising using Twitter, Facebook, and Google Adwords; b) monitor advertising performance and make appropriate adjustments to improve the impact and cost-effectiveness of the outreach campaign; c) Develop features/stories/blogs (a minimum of one 500- to 700-word piece of content per month) one per month per set of topics devised in consultation with MHCC staff and other MHCC contractors. Each piece may include content contributed by external parties, such as consumers, hospital representatives, or other stakeholders. In those cases, the Contractor shall provide editorial guidance and editing, as needed. All blog content developed by the Contractor shall be reviewed and approved by MHCC staff before release. d) At the request of MHCC’s Contract Monitor, the Contractor shall draft a press release to announce the release of new data and content on ‘Wear The Cost,’ provide edit recommendations, finalize, and publish the press release. The press release developed for the launch by the Contractor shall be reviewed and approved by MHCC staff before release. There will only be one press release.
Maryland Health Care Commission
4160 Patterson Ave
Baltimore, MD 21215
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