Success Stories | Energy

Helping a large electric utility boost enrollment in a life-saving program

Business Issue

A large electric IOU was concerned that many of its customers who are medically reliant on electricity were unaware of a Utility Medical Assistance Program it developed to provide lower billing rates and extra advance notifications when a power outage is planned—a common occurrence due to wildfires in this region. Our client also believed potential members were inadvertently being “filtered out” of this potentially life-saving program by the requirements of the application process.

What We Did

Escalent conducted qualitative studies with current, former, and prospective members as well as healthcare professionals (HCPs) in the utility’s territory. We identified several enrollment barriers including a misunderstanding of program requirements and the requirement to obtain a doctor’s signature to enroll. We then followed up with a quantitative study which revealed:

  • Two-thirds of medically-qualified customers were unaware of the program
  • HCPs and word-of-mouth were the primary sources of awareness, not the utility
  • Customers appreciated current program benefits and recommended new ones, including discounts on backup generators
  • One-third of current members didn’t know they needed to recertify annually

Result

Based on Escalent’s research insights, the utility made the following changes which doubled enrollment within one year:

  • Partnered with HCP offices to provide applications and educational materials
  • Discontinued the requirement to have a doctor’s signature when first enrolling
  • Offered online application for the first time
  • Partnered with food banks and hotels to support members during electric outages
  • Provided backup home battery systems to members in high fire-threat zones

Through ongoing research, our client continues to improve enrollment in this life-saving program.

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