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 policy makers, purchasers, providers, and the public. MHCC is seeking a contractor to support “Wear The Cost,” an episode of care, consumercentric 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 including consumers, stakeholders in the healthcare industry, and policymakers. Data and content on the Wear The Cost website are updated every 6 to 9 months, and a focused outreach campaign is conducted with each such 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 Altarum’s PROMETHEUS Analytics© episode of care bundling software.
With the first release of the Wear The Cost website, cost and quality results for four procedural episodes 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). 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 will enable seamless inclusion of additional years of data, new measures, and episode information for different payer/population cohorts, such as Medicare and Medicaid. The goal is to regularly add new information, promote the website, and engage and educate consumers. MHCC is currently in the process of including results using 2015/2016 data from the Medicare population, with a release date scheduled for Spring 2019.
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.
Scope of Work:
To successfully continue public engagement and outreach for this website, MHCC seeks a highly experienced and innovative communications team to support the 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 larger audience. Organizations with previous experience in healthcare and healthcare communications are encouraged to apply.
Under the direction of MHCC, the Contractor will be responsible for developing and executing an overarching communications strategic plan for public education and stakeholder engagement for the Wear The Cost initiative.
The Contractor’s communications plan shall describe the overall dissemination and outreach strategy. The Contractor’s plan shall include:
- promotion of Wear The Cost website content
- consumer and stakeholder engagement
- identifying opportunities for partnership with other organizations
- 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
- creating awareness campaigns to enhance the visibility and reach of the Wear The Cost initiative.
A key component of this communications plan is the development of resonant, timely, accurate, and easily comprehensible messages for consumers, providers, other stakeholders, and the media.
The scope of work under this contract spans from the upcoming release of Medicare (2015/2016) and commercial (2016/2017) data to continuing work for past releases of the website. The key deliverables will include the creation and ongoing support of core tasks related to the most recent commercial (2015/2016) data release; plans for outreach and promotion of the upcoming Medicare (2015/2016) and commercial (2016/2017) data releases; 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 of the communications and outreach plan is to reach a larger audience through engagement on social media, increase the impact of the website’s information through stakeholder engagement, and increase awareness and use of calls-to-action, such as the “Sign the Appeal” campaign.
W2O Group is a healthcare PR agency.