Engaging with patients and the public strengthens accountability and helps NHS bodies develop a relationship of trust and confidence with their local communities. It plays a significant part in improving both the quality of care and health outcomes.

Effective membership engagement does not just mean collecting data and storing it. It requires interpretation and action to be taken.  At the NHS Confed this summer, it was agreed that we need to introduce “humanity” in patient and public feedback and information. Acting accordingly to results is the point of difference from being a tick-box exercise to making a difference and effecting change.

With that in mind here are some tips on managing membership engagement:


For NHS Trust members’, becoming a member means being able to have a greater voice in how the trusts develops and receive more information and feedback. In addition to member opinion and feedback, it is important for NHS organisations to understand the profile of their memberships and demographic classifications that make up their catchment area.

MES clients have benefited with the use of Acorn, a classification tool which helps them better segment and profile their members. Acorn is a powerful tool that allows classification segmentation of postcodes into categories, groups and types. Though not an exact science, this allows NHS organisations to view and understand their membership and report to Monitor.

Knowing your membership is half the battle, with this in mind, CACI have introduced Wellbeing Acorn which is brand new and segments the population further into 4 health groups and 25 types.  These health breakdowns help organisations understand the health demographics of their area and helps target their marketing and communication.


Managing your membership effectively requires tracking and monitoring your communications with your members. With the push for Foundation Trusts to become more self-sufficient, it is important to track marketing spend and with any good business model, check the return on investment (ROI) on marketing communication.

Implementing tools such as email analytics is an easy way to track your conversations by checking open rates and click rates.   This can be coupled with A/B Splitting.  This is where you can take 2 sample groups and test subject lines to determine the most effective template to use, easily saving on marketing costs.


Finally with your memberships it’s integral to have effective reporting tools at your disposal to interrogate your membership data effectively. When recruiting, MES clients use an “Intelligent membership strategy” tool which helps plot the best places to recruit using visual heat maps to show the areas. Such visual aids will help Trusts make better decisions when recruiting and again save on costs.

These are just some guideline tips for the NHS when engaging with their membership, there will always be calls for better management and greater transparency within the NHS. Its always important to ensure that the foundations suggested above are in place to effectively engage your membership when tacking future issues.

Recently MES released Version 7 of its NHS Membership database which includes improvements to the tools and email services suggested above. If you wish to know more you can follow  “#MESV7” on twitter or for a more informal discussion you can contact us below. If you wish to view our recent infographic on our membership breakdown, you can view it here.

James 003If you would like to know more about our research services, you can call us at 020 8829 2330 or email me at


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