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The Right Medical Marketing Reaches Consumers with Heart Disease

Two health care consumers between the ages of 45 to 65Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Treatment of heart disease and its related symptoms is estimated to cost the nation almost $1.1 billion annually. With this February marking the 50th anniversary of American Heart Month, we thought it appropriate to take a moment to examine heart disease statistics and to try to develop an understanding, from a medical marketing perspective, of its sufferers and their primary motivators.

Heart disease kills 1 out of 4 Americans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that approximately 600,000 Americans, both men and women, die from cardiovascular disease or its complications every year. It is the leading cause of death for Caucasians, African-Americans and Hispanic persons, and second only to cancer as a cause of death for Asian-Americans and indigenous Americans.

In the 2013 c2b Consumer Diagnostic, among respondents who had coronary heart disease, 65% were male.  Although only 35% of respondents with coronary heart disease were female, many studies have indicated that CHD among women is under-reported.

From a geographic standpoint, the areas of highest cardiovascular death incidence among individuals over 35 years of age extend in a rough belt along the Appalachians, through the Deep South and westward into the Southern Plains — areas traditionally known for higher rates of tobacco use, lower rates of regular exercise and high-fat, low-fiber “comfort food” diets. Scattered pockets of high heart disease death rates are found in Eastern Michigan, Colorado, the Dakotas, Nevada and Southern California.

Who develops heart disease?

As might be expected for a lifestyle-associated disease with long-duration onset, we found that over 75% of respondents who reported a coronary heart disease diagnosis were over the age of 45, with the majority being over 55. Most report comorbidities with one or more conditions, including hypertension, high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia) and/or obesity.

We found that coronary heart disease incidence doubled between the 45-54 and 55-64 age ranges for all respondents. Interestingly, incidence rates for hyperlipidemia and high blood pressure were roughly equal between the 45-54 and 55-64 demographics.

A significant portion of American healthcare consumers seem to approach, or reach, a tipping point in their disease course between 45 and 54. This might suggest that the demographic may represent a “golden decade” for marketing lifestyle intervention programs, heart imaging studies and treatment of new-onset heart illnesses.

From an attitudinal standpoint, consumers with coronary heart disease were statistically more likely (95% confidence) than respondents with high cholesterol or hypertension to state that they have an unhealthy lifestyle and cannot change their bad habits.  On the other hand, 41% of respondents with coronary heart disease indicate they spend a lot of time and effort improving their health. 

Obviously, patients managing CHD are not all alike and have different motivations and behaviors.  Understanding the individual patient’s needs (including unarticulated needs) and motivations is critical for health care providers to tailor patient engagements, education and interventions.

Almost 6 out of 10 respondents who reported a heart condition were married. This may also provide a significant opportunity for making inroads with the coronary heart disease population: marketing to influential partners can spur decisions in even the most challenging patient types.

The development of coronary heart disease follows the move from private to government payer insurance coverage.

Individuals with coronary heart disease were statistically more likely to have government-sponsored health insurance coverage than individuals reporting hypertension or hyperlipidemia.

This most likely represents the skew in age. For perspective, 43% of respondents with coronary heart disease were over age 65, whereas only 1/3 of respondents with hypertension or high cholesterol were over age 65.

The takeaway from this?

The 45-54 demographic may represent a golden decade for medical marketing to consumers with heart disease (or at higher risk for heart disease) as chronic hypertension and/or high cholesterol catch up to a person at this age, and ability (or willingness) to continue working decreases as coronary heart disease develops.

Private, higher-reimbursement payer sources become supplanted by lower-reimbursement public coverage plans.

Developing a preventative care relationship with these patients during their last decade-or-so of private coverage makes better sense for your organization’s bottom line. Moreover, by providing the right scans and therapeutic interventions, you could help to keep some of your patients from falling over the CHD ledge, and enjoy a longer provider-patient relationship with them.

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

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