••• renewable energy research

Personal recommendations power solar panel uptake

When it comes to trying new products, the power of a friend’s advice is well-documented. If that new product is solar panels, a Swiss study has found, an equally powerful influence can be your physical proximity to the friend.

The circulation of information within a community can be an important driver of the energy transition, the study’s authors say, and that spatial proximity should be considered alongside social proximity. They suggest concrete measures that policymakers can take, such as sponsoring local information campaigns run by neighborhood associations, businesses operating in the energy transition and people who already own solar panels. 

“Solar-panel owners enjoy talking about their experience – describing how much power the panels generate per year and how much money they save,” says Glòria Serra-Coch, the study’s lead author. “Our study shows that renewable energy should be promoted through trusted individuals who form part of a close circle – including a close circle geographically.”

A survey conducted for the study of 1,125 people living in the Swiss canton of Vaud asked whether respondents have installed solar panels, whether they are homeowners or tenants, whether they know someone who has installed solar panels and, if so, where this person lives and if this person had suggested they buy solar panels too. The results showed that 17.6% of respondents owned solar panels and 40.4% of these individuals knew someone else who had them. The study found that factors such as gender and stated environmental viewpoints don’t have a significant influence.

••• health care research

Survey highlights member satisfaction Rx for health plans

A survey of more than 2,800 health plan participants conducted by health care SaaS company HealthEdge uncovered five things plans can deliver to improve member satisfaction: incentives and rewards for healthy behaviors; easy access to health records; access to providers who offer care based on member preferences and personal traits; good customer service; and tools or information to help members find less-costly care.

The survey also uncovered key differences among generational and line of business consumer segment responses. Dual-eligible plans, designed for people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, appear to have the highest member satisfaction. Responses suggest 18-24-year-olds are four times more likely than other age groups to prefer communicating with health plans in digital ways, such as texting and mobile app messaging. “For this on-the-go, mobile-everything population, convenience isn’t an option – it’s a necessity,” says Christine Davis, senior vice president of marketing at HealthEdge.

Responses from participants age 65 and up imply older members prefer outreach through more traditional channels, such as phone calls and e-mails.