The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) publish an annual handbook for beneficiaries of Medicare called Medicare & You. This handbook is the number one resource and reference guide on all Medicare and Medicaid services and is tasked with communicating an incredible amount of detailed and comprehensive information on all Medicare options and benefits.
With a desire to improve the usability and clarity of the handbook for its readers, CMS hired KRC Research to test the draft of Medicare & You for 2007, and again each following year. Each year, KRC's objectives are to gain a better understanding of how Medicare beneficiaries use the Medicare & You handbook and to gather feedback on the clarity and navigability of the draft handbook to determine key areas for improvement.
KRC Research developed and conducted a three-phased iterative research program to test, revise, and retest drafts of the handbook each year. Each year, KRC combines small group and individual depth interviews among a wide range of beneficiaries, caregivers and "coming of agers" (those on the brink of qualifying for Medicare). In Phase One of each year's research, we get general feedback from individuals who used the Handbook during the previous year to identify priority areas for revision. In Phase Two, we gather more detailed feedback specifically on navigation issues and the clarity of the prose.
Each year, KRC Research has helped CMS pinpoint and implement changes that have made the Medicare & You handbook significantly easier for beneficiaries to navigate, understand, and use. KRC's research has thus played a critical role in CMS' efforts to communicate the most essential information in a language its users can understand and ultimately apply.
Improvements have included clearer headings for easier navigation, the addition of charts to display information and a greater clarity of prose. Further, a clear overview of the Medicare system, as it relates to the beneficiaries, was added to the handbook after the research revealed that the majority of beneficiaries have a low level of knowledge about their individual Medicare services and benefits.