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5 Tactics Providers Can Use to Engage Boomer Healthcare Consumers


Less than two years ago, Mike Miliard, editor of Healthcare IT News, wrote an article on patient engagement in which he said, “One thing seems clear: The days of patients being passive recipients of care are over.” True, patients have undergone a transformation as healthcare reform has marched forward. They have taken a more active role — that of a healthcare consumer — when it comes to spending on their health. They shop for their health insurance; they share and compare reviews of healthcare organizations online; they demand greater price transparency. Yet despite rising healthcare consumerism, many patients remain disengaged when it comes to managing their own health. That passivity is especially worrying because we know that care providers will be put to the test in the coming years as Baby Boomers, rife with chronic conditions, flood our healthcare system. 

Using psychographic segmentation can improve engagement.

Hospitals and other healthcare providers focused on increasing engagement among healthcare consumers need to think like a retailer. If you look at some of the most popular consumer brands — Disney, Amazon, Ritz-Carlton — you see that these companies offer personalized experiences designed to delight customers. For your hospital to follow suit, you need deep insights into what motivates individual healthcare consumers, and psychographic segmentation can help.  Psychographics pertain to people’s attitudes, values, lifestyles and personalities.  They are the key to unlocking people’s motivations and activating behaviors.

By customizing patient engagement strategies to meet the unique beliefs, attitudes and challenges of each segment, healthcare providers can connect with Baby Boomers in ways that encourage greater engagement. Let’s take a look at each segment and the different tactics that could improve engagement.

1. Balance Seekers

Proactive and wellness oriented, Balance Seekers may still be a challenge when it comes to engagement because they consider healthcare professionals to be just one of many sources that can contribute to good health. As a result, they won’t necessarily turn to a hospital or physician first. Healthcare providers can play to this segment by taking a cue from Netflix. That’s right, Netflix. A recent HIT Consultant article suggests that healthcare providers borrow some of the tactics that have helped the video streaming and DVD distribution company become an entertainment industry giant and consumer favorite. What does Netflix do that would resonate with Balance Seekers? Content curation. Consumers sign on with Netflix because they appreciate the volume of titles available, but even more, because they can use Netflix tools to build video play lists, find more movies like their favorites and explore films based on different categories.

Balance seekers want choice. Give it to them. After the Cleveland Clinic developed an online library of educational healthcare content, it found that both patient engagement and satisfaction increased.

2. Willful Endurers

Willful Endurers can be tough nuts to crack. These healthcare consumers live in the moment and commit to doing what they like — even when those habits have negative health consequences. They are also very independent. As a result, Willful Endurers only go to the doctor as a last resort. How can healthcare providers activate these stubborn patients in caring for their own health? If they won’t come to you, bring healthcare to them.

Sixty-two percent of Baby Boomers use laptops, and 50 percent use smartphones. Why not reach out to them where they are?  Develop a wellness campaign that motivates engagement by sending out reminders via email or text, perhaps even adding an element of fun by incorporating healthy rewards in the mix.

Geisinger Health System (GHS) in Pennsylvania introduced a program that sent motivational text messages and reminders three times a week over a 12-week period to patients who needed to lose weight. The idea was to keep weight management “front and center” without being too pushy. Chanin Wendling, director of eHealth for the division of applied research and clinical informatics at GHS, notes, “When providers have the patient in the office, they talk about all of these strategies and get the patient pumped up, but then the patient doesn't come back for three months or six months and maybe didn't remember all the things that were said, or had trouble keeping their motivation up. These text messages would come and be a little kick in the butt.”

At the end of the pilot, patients who received the texts lost more weight than patients who did not receive texts. For the psychographic segment that lives in the moment, this type of low-key engagement can be very effective.

PatientBond offers a platform for automating text, email and phone messaging according to the patient’s psychographic segment to maximize patient response.  It seamlessly integrates with a hospital’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR) to record patients’ psychographic segment and response to outreach, and adjusts to patient behaviors.  One major health system is experiencing an 8:1 ROI on just appointment reminders alone, and is expanding its use of PatientBond to other issues requiring patient behavior change.

PatientBond will be showcasing its innovation at the 2016 HIMSS Conference & Exhibition (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) in booth 4674 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev. from Feb. 29 – March 4, 2016. More than 40,000 healthcare industry professionals are expected at the conference, where they will learn about and discuss health IT issues, and on the exhibit floor, view innovative solutions designed to transform healthcare.

3. Priority Jugglers

Priority Jugglers are busy, busy, busy. As a result, they sometimes put off their own health concerns. They don’t, however, do the same when it comes to caring for the health of their family. Because of this, healthcare providers may want to tackle Priority Jugglers in a round-about way. In a recent blog post, we talked about a pilot program for arthritis patients that uses a custom cost model to show how addressing a health concern early impacts future quality of life. This type of approach can help to motivate family-oriented Priority Jugglers because it shows the potential financial and emotional impact that poor health will have on the people who depend on them. Priority Jugglers also understand Return on Investment, and are willing to invest in certain behaviors if they know for certain it will pay dividends.

Another option? Look at what makes Netflix so popular with consumers: convenience. Make important health education materials available in several places — at the primary care office, retail drug stores and online — so that these busy Baby Boomers can get what they need, wherever they are, when they need it.

4. Self Achievers

As the name implies, Self Achievers are the most proactive in managing their health and appearance. When combined with a task-oriented attitude and desire for metrics and progress measures, these attributes make Self Achievers top candidates for patient engagement strategies that leverage wearable technologies or apps. While, as a group, Baby Boomers are less likely to use wearables or health apps, Self Achievers show a willingness to spend what it takes to stay in shape, so tech-driven health tools can help fuel engagement.  The potential for greater engagement through wearables is significant enough to inspire GE Healthcare, New Orleans-based Ochsner Health System and The Idea Village to launch a “Wear Your Health” competition to develop wearable or app technologies for chronic disease management.

5. Direction Takers

Don’t be fooled by Direction Takers. While this segment trusts physicians to provide the guidance needed to manage healthcare concerns, they often struggle to follow health advice despite their best intentions. After all, they’re called Direction Takers, not Direction Followers.  How can you overcome this issue to maintain higher levels of engagement after a Direction Taker leaves your office? Research has shown that less engaged patients are more likely to have 30-day readmissions, so it is critical that healthcare providers reach out to Direction Takers after a visit. 

Geisinger Health System has a proactive, high touch plan in place that addresses potential problems: a nurse navigator will call a patient to follow-up on schedule future visits, making sure prescriptions have been filled and more. The contact may even involve arranging for transportation to facilitate compliance.

Providers must motivate patients to action.

As Gregory Moore, MD, PhD, chief emerging technology and informatics officer, and director for the Geisinger Institute for Advanced Application points out, “An engaged patient is a healthier patient for us.”  With millions of Baby Boomers headed towards higher healthcare usage due to chronic conditions, it is more important than ever that healthcare providers ramp up their engagement efforts to connect with these healthcare consumers. How can you customize your patient engagement tactics to motivate and inspire Baby Boomers to take charge of their chronic conditions?

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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