What They’re Watching: Abner Mason, ConsejoSano

Abner Mason is the Founder and CEO of ConsejoSano. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss engaging multi-cultural Medi-Cal members.

“At my company, ConsejoSano, we’re a patient engagement and patient navigation company, and we’re particularly focused on the Medicaid market. And here in California, Medi-Cal is the largest Medicaid program in the country — almost 14 million members, one out of three Californians — and it’s 81% multi-cultural.

We have this situation where the health care system, here in California, is just not well-equipped to serve these people because they come from cultures and they speak languages that are very different than the traditional U.S. culture… So, that leads to really poor engagement, a lack of trust, higher costs, and poorer health outcomes.

So, at ConsejoSano we’re focused on trying to bridge that gap. We’re working with managed care plans in California, and FQHCs and IPAs, helping them to engage these Medi-Cal members who, for cultural and linguistic reasons, in the past have really not engaged very well.

What we found is that the approach that has traditionally been taken, and that is still taken by most folks in the health care system today, is what we call, “multi-cultural patient engagement 1.0.” And what that means is translation. We take a message that was designed for “Mary,” and you send it to “Maria.” But Maria’s life experience and understanding of health care, and what she cares about, who she is, where she’s from, and what she values is completely different from Mary. And so, what happens is, when Maria gets that message, she says to herself, “first of all, it wasn’t mean for me, they don’t care about me, and it doesn’t speak to me.” And so, she’s not responsive to it.

So, what we do at ConsejoSano is different. We call it “multi-cultural patient engagement 2.0.” We start with culture. We never translate. We start with a deep understanding of who people are. We’ve built a technology platform that allows us to ingest an enormous amount of data – public data, private data, claims data, as well as the expertise that we’ve built on our team — to micro-segment a given population into what we call cultural cohorts. So, we design content for the cohort — that smaller group. Not the whole group, but the much smaller group. And then we add the appropriate language and then we deliver that in the appropriate way, which for Medicaid, or Medi-Cal members, almost always is the mobile environment, meaning via text-messaging. That’s the way they want to communicate. So, that process of starting with culture, then adding content, then language, and then delivering that message in a way that the member wants to receive it, which is text message, that gets incredible results.”