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A Solvable Reason Health IT Investments Fail

health-it-investmentsAfter some difficult years spent implementing health care IT, the news is disheartening. Despite the sizeable investments — including more than $26 billion in federal incentive payments to hospitals and physicians for achieving goals — providers are not seeing the returns they had hoped for — yet.

According to a health policy brief published by Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and reported on in an article in Health Data Management, “While considerable investments in health IT have been made, advancement of interoperability and electronic information sharing across systems has been slow.”

It begs the question — just how are the data from these IT systems being used?  If health care providers truly want to achieve value from their IT investments, psychographic segmentation can help.

Working towards Meaningful Use

While many health care organizations have met the federal standards for stage one of meaningful use, earning the above mentioned incentive payments, the number of organizations that have met stage two standards has dropped off considerably

As the Health Data Management article points out, there are some specific challenges that are hampering progress:

  • Lack of interoperability to support data sharing
  • Lack of incentive to share with other providers
  • Concerns about data privacy, security and potential liability issues

In the health policy brief from the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Health Innovation Initiative, Director Janet Marchibroda notes, “In order to achieve electronic information sharing, EHRs and other clinical software must be ‘interoperable’ or have the capability to exchange information using agreed-upon standards, and those providing care and services must be willing to share information.”

Yet, some of the requirements of meaningful use can be addressed without waiting for those challenges to be resolved.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ National Quality Strategy has set six key areas that health care providers should address in their efforts to achieve meaningful use. For at least two of these areas — patient & family engagement and population & public health — psychographic segmentation can help organizations meet their objectives.

Healthcare Consumer Insights Make a Difference

Used in conjunction with the health IT data, psychographic segmentation helps organizations understand patient personality types based on lifestyle, attitudes and motivations towards health and wellness. Using a tool like the 12-question c2b Consumer Classifier, health care providers can identify which of five segments patients fit into:

  1. Balance Seekers 
  2. Willful Endurers
  3. Priority Jugglers
  4. Self Achievers
  5. Direction Takers

Based on these defined segments, health care organizations can create more targeted messaging and share it along their audiences’ preferred communication channels to improve the effectiveness of their education and marketing campaigns.

How does this apply to the specific meaningful use goals?

Using patient data gathered through an EHR, a hospital could identify a target audience to participate in a weight management program to combat obesity, but without deep insights into what will activate patient engagement, the program will likely see limited success. By creating segment-specific campaigns based on patents’ individual motivations, providers are able to more effectively influence behavior and realize the health improvements desired.

For example, Priority Jugglers — who tend to focus on their own health only when it interferes with other priorities in their life — can be engaged more effectively by emphasizing how weight loss can ensure they are better able to meet professional commitments or to care for their loved ones.

Similar programs could be developed based on population health concerns ranging from cancer awareness campaigns or smoking cessation programs to better management of chronic diseases like diabetes or asthma.

The problem is not a lack of patient data; it’s a lack of insights into what it takes to communicate effectively with individual patients in order to influence behavior for the positive changes that health care providers expect after investing so much time and money into health IT solutions.

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

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