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Health Care Marketing The Way Consumer Companies Do It

health care consumersQuality of care is a focal point in today’s healthcare marketplace, and new IT systems are a critical part of that process. But, lately, some have begun to warn that a technologically heavy approach to consumer health care isolates the more vulnerable patient groups such as the elderly and low-income families.

The key to finding balance may lie in segmenting consumer markets for more targeted healthcare marketing. By changing the way hospitals reach out to their patient base, they may improve access and enhance outcomes for all.

Getting Customer-Centric in Health Care

Customer-centricity is a buzz phrase used in standard marketing, and the meaning is relatively clear. The goal is to analyze data to determine the needs of the customer then fashion a marketing campaign and products based on what you find.

The medical community might benefit from a scientific application of the customer-centric approach. Psychographic segmentation looks at behavior and other psychological factors to anticipate the needs of patients and develop actionable insights to help manage their health.

Applying Psychographic Segmentation to Health Care Marketing

Retailers have been segmenting shopper populations for decades. They create promotions and advertisements that appeal to the businessperson, the soccer mom, the high school graduate, the senior citizen. This targeting is based on demographics or lifestage. Retailers also use shopper/loyalty data to target promotions based on shoppers’ past behaviors (for example, sending coupons for soda to heavy soda drinkers).

This targeted style suits the healthcare industry, as well and has already been adopted by many hospitals which have begun looking at health conditions, age differences and geographic analysis for their marketing campaigns. However, demographic and socioeconomic segmentation assumes all members of a given physical (e.g., age) or situational (e.g., income) characteristic think and act the same way. Even behavioral segmentation is limited to showing WHAT a consumer does, not WHY he or she is doing it.

With the application of psychographic segmentation, one can break the groups down further by motivating factors for more targeted results. A 35-year-old woman with diabetes, for example, may respond differently to health care messaging based on whether she focuses on her family’s health over her own, or prioritizes prevention and wellness.

The Power of Psychographic Segmentation

Once you understand what motivates the patient, you can work on creating options geared to grab their attention. Through this process, the company:

  • Identifies attitudes about health care, doctors and lifestyles
  • Develops research based on the needs and motivations of the patients
  • Creates programs to improve health outcomes for all
  • Establishes solid relationships that enhance care and establish the brand

Psychographics treats patients like health care consumers — increasingly important in a health system where reimbursement has begun to rely more on outcomes and patient satisfaction, not individual services. Doctors and medical facilities won’t just make money just for performing a service anymore. The money comes from continuity of care and better results, which hinges on patient activation and motivation.

Marketing and patient intervention plans need to do more than just draw patients in; they need to inspire them to change in ways that improves health. It’s not easy to convince a smoker to quit or encourage someone to lose weight.

Targeted marketing reaches out to these groups in an intimate way.  Behaviors, lifestyles, attitudes — these all factor into health care consumerism.

Building a Health Care Brand

Branding is the new buzz in health care marketing. The Herald Tribune reports that the global health care service market is estimated to reach 3 trillion dollars by 2015 thanks in no small part to utilization by vulnerable groups like the elderly. Hospitals can build their image within these groups through the right marketing approaches.

Physical therapy, for example, is a field that touches many different groups — from senior citizens recovering from a knee or hip replacement to kids injured playing sports. Developing programs like group water therapy sessions for older adults, supported by psychographic segment-specific messaging, targets a specific market and draws them into the network for all their care needs, enhancing the brand name at the same time.

It is important to remember that a brand is not a logo, tagline, jingle or even a product. A brand is the summation of consumers’ experiences with that product or service. Every consumer touchpoint supports or erodes a brand’s equity. Ensuring that most, if not all, patient interactions are consistent and in-line with brand strategy is critical for the health care brand.

The industry is changing and it is important to find ways to reach out to each of your patient types. Segmenting consumer populations can help.

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

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