Ten Tips on Using Centralized Scheduling Tools for In-Person Assistance

By William Tomasko

Across the country, in-person assisters are helping consumers sort out their new health insurance options and enroll in coverage.

We know how much of a difference they can make. In the most recent open enrollment period, people who got in-person assistance were nearly 60 percent more likely to successfully get covered.

And centralized scheduling tools make it easier for consumers to find and make appointments for help. One such tool is the Get Covered Connector, which people can use to find local assistance and schedule an appointment.

Based on our work with partners and new data drawn from the Connector, here are 10 tips to keep in mind when using centralized scheduling tools for in-person assistance:

1. Commit to using a tool early, well in advance of the desired start date (e.g. the start of the annual open enrollment period), and allow time for onboarding staff, working out initial kinks, training, recruiting partners, etc.

2. Designate a point-person in your organization or coalition whose responsibility it is to understand how the tool works and regularly monitor its use.

3. Post assisters’ schedules publicly as soon as possible. Training and outreach should follow closely after, but getting the schedule posted is a critical first step.

4. Make more appointments available during the most popular times, including weekend mornings, especially those immediately preceding important enrollment deadlines.

5. Train the appropriate staff on how to use the tool, but expect to provide ongoing technical support throughout the open enrollment period.

6. Develop a robust outreach strategy to support the tool’s implementation.

    • Reach out to other organizations that work on outreach and enrollment in your community. Ensure they know how to schedule appointments and, if appropriate, invite them to use the tool as well.
    • Consider coupling the tool with a statewide or regional telephone hotline, so consumers can make appointments over the phone.
    • Develop a digital marketing strategy and encourage relevant organizations to embed the tool on their website.
    • Work with local media to push the tool out when they cover enrollment-related stories.

7. Remind consumers about upcoming appointments via email, text, and reminder calls. (Note: The Get Covered Connector automatically sends consumers email and text reminders before an appointment.)

8. Commit to regular data entry (at whatever level of the organization can be relied upon to regularly and consistently record information).

9. Review the data and use it to make adjustments to your program to better meet consumers’ needs and achieve desired outcomes.

10. Remember: A tool is just a tool! It is only one part of an effective outreach and enrollment effort. It makes much of the work more effective and efficient, but it does not replace the need for regular outreach, consumer-tested messaging, planning, or community-based partnerships.

Interested in learning more? Check out the full issue brief that this list is drawn from: Making the Connection: How Centralized Scheduling Benefits Consumers, Assisters, and the Enrollment Community.

And find out more about the Get Covered Connector tool (available in English and Spanish) here.

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