4 Patient Engagement Strategies That Make the Most of May
The sunshine beckons. Finally, after months of dreary, cold weather, people are venturing outside to enjoy warmer weather and longer days. It’s perfect timing for National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, an annual health celebration led by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
Co-chairs for the Council, athletes Drew Brees and Dominque Dawes, speak to the value of sports in building and maintaining health. But while everyone welcomes the change in weather, healthcare consumers have widely differing attitudes towards fitness and exercise — from embracing the chance to get off the treadmill and move daily runs outdoors to just moving from the easy chair to a lawn chair. A famous spokesperson like a professional football player or Olympian may inspire one segment of the public, but not everybody.
How can healthcare providers develop meaningful patient engagement strategies for healthcare consumers who bring such diverse outlooks on physical activity to the table?
Psychographic Segmentation Highlights the Differences in Consumers
Hippocrates may have been one of the first to recognize both the potential and challenge of patient engagement strategies when he said, “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” Connecting in a meaningful way with healthcare consumers that have unique motivations and attitudes towards fitness, however, remains problematic.
With psychographic segmentation, healthcare providers can begin to break down the walls that prevent patient engagement. Among the five segments identified by the PatientBond Consumer Classifier, for example, the propensity to exercise is quite varied:
- Balance Seekers and Self Achievers are statistically more likely, with 95 percent confidence, than other segments to engage in physical activity at least 3 to 4 days a week.
- Willful Endurers and Direction Takers, on the other hand, are more likely to exercise less often than once a month or never.
- Only Priority Jugglers mirror the general population in terms of the amount of exercise they get.
Customizing Communications to Engage Patients
Given these differences, it’s not surprising that a one-size-fits-all approach to promoting physical fitness falls flat with a great number of healthcare consumers. Many probably mirror the attitude expressed by humorist Erma Bombeck who said, “The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.” How do your patient engagement strategies need to change to get through to these various segments — including plenty of consumers who aren’t likely to take up jogging anytime soon?
Here are four ways to speak directly to the distinct segments to drive engagement:
- Be a source of information in new places. Proactive Balance Seekers are unlikely to turn to healthcare professionals to define a healthy lifestyle. For that reason, healthcare-related organizations need to provide advice across a variety of sources to facilitate the Balance Seeker’s desire to discover new information and plan their own approach to physical fitness.
- Offers easy ways to incorporate activity into everyday routines. Think of Erma Bombeck and you have a good understanding of the Willful Endurer’s attitude toward fitness. They live in the present and tend to do what they like, when they like. They only go to the doctor when they absolutely have to, so they need messaging about fitness that speaks to them where they are and identifies simple ways to weave physical activity into their lives to “make today the best day possible.” This approach also works for Direction Takers who look to healthcare professionals for guidance, but may not follow directions that are difficult to work into daily routines.
- Develop family-oriented activity programs. As the name Priority Juggler suggests, these healthcare consumers are busy. Because they tend to prioritize the wellbeing of their loved ones over themselves, communications that emphasize engaging in physical activity as a family to improve health of a spouse or children.
- Create a goal-oriented fitness program. The proactive Self Achiever segment can be motivated by communications that offer measurable fitness goals. Healthcare organizations can also design patient engagement strategies that appeal to the competitive nature of Self Achievers.