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Actionable Health Data Digs Deeper Than Demographics

health data demographicsManaging population health has always been one of the greatest challenges health care providers face in their efforts to transform health care — and it can be a particular struggle when patient populations are divided along ethnic and racial lines. While some analysts say that making full use of demographic data could help hospitals make significant in-roads towards reducing health disparities, hospitals may want to dig even deeper. 

As America moves towards health care consumerism, tapping into behavioral, attitudinal and psychographic differences of these various populations allows health care providers to communicate more effectively to improve patient outcomes. 

Better Health Greater Cleveland Proves the Value of Health Data

Since 2007, Better Health Greater Cleveland has been using patient data to identify at-risk groups. After uncovering disparities in blood pressure control among patient populations, Better Health tackled the problem with impressive results. Recently, Hospitals & Health Networks took a look at how the health care organization developed its own best practices for improving blood pressure control among its African-American patients.  

Better Health, a participant in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Aligning Forces for Quality program, adapted an intervention program developed by Kaiser Permanente Ohio to train member primary care clinics on:

  • Improving provider-patient communications, particularly at the beginning and end of visits

  • Addressing patient concerns

  • Demonstrating compassion

The result? According to RWJF data, Better Health exceeds the national average for good control of high blood pressure by 20 percent. 

Despite improving their average to nearly 70 percent, however, a gap still exists along ethnic and racial lines. While 73 percent of Caucasians are successfully controlling their blood pressure, those numbers decline to 65 percent for Hispanics and 62 percent for African-Americans — and the gap is increasing. 

Multiply Better Health’s challenges in managing a single issue of health disparity by 47.1 million individuals, and you have a good picture of what health care providers in the South face. 

A recent Kaiser Family Foundation report looks at this growing region and the challenges provider face. The KFF report notes that “the region’s population is racially and ethnically diverse and also diverse across a number of factors including citizenship status, age, urban-rural composition, and income.” In fact, the South includes some of the highest poverty rates and Southern Americans are more likely to be poor than their Northeastern and Midwestern counterparts. 

The diversity of demographic characteristics will require a more targeted approach to improve patient outcomes across all populations. 

Managing Population Health the Way a Retailer Would

According to an Institute for Diversity in Health Management survey, 97 percent of hospitals collect racial data, but only 30 percent use that data to address health care disparities, and 94 percent collect ethnicity data, but only 29 percent use it. Why? Aside from profiling sensitivities, taking advantage of such data requires a commitment — and as hospitals and other care providers face already crowded agenda, they sometimes struggle to carve out time for taking advantage of the information. 

Yet, leveraging data is a critical component in developing meaningful programs for improving population health. Just as advertisers have discovered, the unique differences among individuals, even within the same demographic groups, can determine whether your program hits — or misses — the mark. 

For example, data indicate that Hispanics are more likely to use alternative health care providers, including retail clinics or pharmacists. They are also more likely to use social media and the internet to find health care providers. While that data helps you identify “where” you need reach out to these patients, you still need messaging that engages the individual. 

Psychographic segmentation, which leverages insights on consumers’ values, beliefs, personalities and motivations, can help get you to this more personal level. c2b solutions identified five distinct, psychographic segments based on consumers’ approach to health and wellness. These five segments can be found within all ages, geographies, genders and ethnicities.

However, certain ethnicities skew toward particular psychographic segments. For example, African-Americans are more heavily represented among the Self Achievers segment, and Asian-Americans skew toward the Willful Endurers segment.

How a health care provider frames a message or chooses a media vehicle should be based upon the preferences of the patient. Each psychographic segment has its preferred way of learning and receiving information.

Using psychographic segmentation to identify more personal needs based on beliefs or lifestyles helps health care organizations target patients more effectively and motivate behaviors that can positively address population health disparities. 

To learn how use health care consumerism to communicate more effectively with patients, contact c2b solutions.

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


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