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Mobile Health Finds Greater Reach by Segmenting Consumers

mhealthAs health care organizations– from insurers to hospitals– look for ways to improve patient engagement and reduce costs, mobile health (mHealth) technologies are gaining traction. 

Certainly, personal health devices and apps can be valuable tools, but they require active participation. Like the New Year’s resolutions that inspire individuals to download a weight loss app or buy the latest activity-tracking gizmo, committed usage fizzles out over time. How can healthcare providers and developers identify which patients will benefit most from mHealth? 

Segmenting consumer populations and tapping into psychographics can provide the meaningful insights needed to understand exactly who is likely to leverage these digital tools to optimize personal health. 

Growing Market for mHealth

Use of digital technology is skyrocketing in the U.S. According to latest Digital Consumer Report from Nielsen, which evaluates technology adoption between 2011 and 2013, smart phones are now more common in households than digital cable or game consoles. 

  • Smart phone ownership increased 21 percent to reach 65 percent.
  • Tablet ownership jumped from 5 percent to 29 percent.
  • The average American household has a least 4 tech devices including HDTVs, Internet-connected computers, smart phones and more. 

While 18-24 year olds are leading the charge, the latest numbers clearly indicate that Americans of all ages are embracing digital technology. Mobile health technologies are no exception. 

In a recent issue of Entrepreneur, the publication noted that global market for mHealth apps and devices is poised to grow from $6.3 billion to $20.7 billion within five years. That’s not surprising, considering that the number of Americans using smart phones for health-related purposes grew 27 percent to 95 million — in just one year. In perhaps the ultimate show of an mHealth device going mainstream, Sierra Sandison, the newly crowned Miss Idaho, appeared in the swimsuit portion of the pageant wearing her bikini — and her insulin pump. 

Since 2009, the French start-up Withings has been developing internet-enabled health care devices that integrate with other apps and products. Consumers can use Withings monitors to track everything from weight or activity to blood pressure and sleep patterns. 

What other types of devices and apps are available to help consumers manage health? In addition to the slew of diet apps and wearable fitness devices available, consumers can find apps to help them:

  • Manage personal health records, take notes and prepare for medical appointments more effectively
  • Earn cash for healthy behaviors — paid for by users who fail to stay on track for their own fitness goals
  • Gain 24/7 access to doctors by e-mail or phone — along with health care usage reports.

As Withings CEO Cedric Hutchings notes, “More and more, we're all at the center of our own health management.” And tools like these are helping to make it possible. 

The Challenge of Engaging Consumers 

Consumers are as varied as mHealth opportunities. In order to realize true advantages — like improving patient outcomes and reducing health care overuse and spending, health care providers and insurers need to recommend the right tool, to the right person, at the right time. And mobile health solution developers and device manufacturers have the same imperative if they want their sales efforts to be successful. 

Segmenting consumer populations opens the door to more effective marketing, education, communication, and intervention for healthcare consumers. From top level segmentation like consumer demographics to the more penetrating perspective offered by psychographic segmentation, the insights into consumers can help organizations determine:

  • Preferred communication channels for delivering messages and education
  • Top influencers consumers rely on for information
  • Motivations and beliefs that influence behaviors
  • Opinions on participation in health-related activities
  • Roles consumers expect health care professionals to play

For example, doctors might not, on their own, know to reach out to Hispanic patients online, but social media and mobile apps are a favored tool for seeking out information on physicians or insurance providers for this patient group. 

Psychographic segmentation offers more detail, to help organizations fine-tune messaging and leverage more effective media to generate better responses within that market. With this deeper understanding of consumers, organizations can focus first on those more likely to take the desired action — whether that is downloading a fitness app to a smart phone or actively engaging in a web-based smoking cessation class. 

Usage of mHealth devices and digital applications will definitely vary by psychographic segment. c2b solutions has found five psychographic segments distinct in their approach to health and wellness.  

Among the five segments, Balance Seekers and Priority Jugglers are the heaviest users of mobile apps, and Balance Seekers are the most likely to use health and fitness apps.

Balance Seekers also are the most likely to rely on the Internet for health information, and they, along with Self Achievers, are the most likely to welcome emails or e-newsletters on health.

Among health oriented websites, Willful Endurers are the most likely to visit a site to interact with a nurse, reflecting this segment’s need for instant results to their questions.

Each psychographic segment is motivated by different things, so messaging must be tailored accordingly. The right mix of message and media vehicle is the key to driving patient activation and behavior change.

To learn how segmenting consumer markets can improve your ability to engage consumers, contact c2b solutions today.

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


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