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Do Healthcare Consumers’ Psychographic Segments Change As They Age?

surgery-c2b.jpgChange is a natural part of aging. Hair turns gray or disappears altogether. Muscles lose firmness, and joints lose flexibility. Vision, hearing and the sense of taste become less acute. Even basic personality traits—such as moodiness, self-confidence, reliability, determination and originality—change significantly during those formative teenage to young adult years, according to a long-term study conducted in Scotland.

But lacking a significant life-changing event, the attitudes, beliefs and motivations related to a person’s health and wellness do not generally change with age. As a result, using psychographic segmentation to understand healthcare consumers can help hospitals nurture patient relationships and drive engagement well into senior care years.


Meeting demand for value-based senior care

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has continued to move ahead and expand its value-based purchasing (VBP) initiatives which began in 2012. But according to Modern Healthcare, of the 3,000 hospitals eligible to earn bonuses from Medicare, only 53 percent—or 1,600—qualified for the incentives, a 200 hospital decline for 2017.

Calling the results “somewhat concerning,” Francois de Brantes, executive director of the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute suggests that the CMS program needs to move away from a “tournament-style” program that compares hospitals against each other, leaving them blind to how they’ll rank in the end.

Nancy Foster, the American Hospital Association's vice president of quality and patient safety policy, seems to agree, saying, "However, CMS must continue to refine the program to ensure that it effectively drives quality forward for hospitals and the patients they serve.”

For FY 2017, the CMS added the following quality measures used to assess hospital performance for its VBP program:

  • 25 percent based on clinical care outcomes
  • 25 percent on patient/caregiver-centered experience and care coordination
  • 25 percent on efficiency and cost reduction
  • 20 percent on safety
  • 5 percent based on process

Clearly, hospitals need to improve patient engagement among elderly healthcare consumers to help address the CMS VBP program. The question is: “How do you get elderly healthcare consumers who are ‘set in their ways’ to engage more effectively in their health and wellness?”


Inspire behavior change using psychographics

Disguising the effects of aging is big business, ranging from do-it-yourself hair dye kits to skin-plumping injections to reduce laugh lines. Last year alone, Americans spent $13.5 billion on aesthetic plastic surgery.


The growth in the industry, suggests James C. Grotting, MD and president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, signals that “Youth is a commodity, and people are investing in themselves to maintain a younger, healthier appearance.” Yet, at the same time, hospitals and other healthcare providers struggle to get people to invest the same care and attention to the less visible effects of aging and chronic disease.

Psychographic segmentation gives healthcare providers valuable insights into what makes patients tick. As we’ve discussed in the past, the c2b solutions proprietary psychographic segmentation model classifies individuals into five distinct segments based on their attitudes, beliefs and preferences related to health and wellness.  Patient engagement - whether face-to-face or through written/digital communications - can be tailored to each psychographic segment’s unique motivations.

View More: Psychographic Segmentation and the Healthcare Consumer PDF 

Some segments—like Self-Achievers—are relatively easy to motivate when it comes to behavior change. Provide clear direction with measurable goals, and a Self-Achiever will get to work. Other segments—like Balance Seekers—need a more flexible approach. Provide a variety of options and the consequences of each, and a Balance Seeker will do some research and decide which path to take based on what he or she believes is best.  As an aside, the Self Achiever segment is the most likely of the five c2b psychographic segments to invest in cosmetic procedures from the example discussed above.


Psychographic Segments: Static or Fluid?

People are a product of nature + nurture. Their personalities are formed through biology, environment, circumstance and the aggregate of their experiences. Psychographics tap into this to help define a person’s motivations.

While the c2b psychographic segmentation model defines five distinct segments, healthcare consumers are a composite of all segments, with primary, secondary and tertiary preferences. For example, the author of this article is 75 percent Balance Seeker, 14 percent Priority Juggler and 11 percent Self Achiever. Balance Seeker is the dominant segment, though other segment attitudes and behaviors are present in approaches to health and wellness.


Because it is driven by a people’s aggregate experiences, their dominant segment generally doesn’t change with age. It may shift some percentage  points, but the dominant segment most likely remains the same. However, if a person sits on the cusp of two segments, say 51 percent Self Achiever and 49 percent Direction Taker, they could shift dominant segments with  a major event, such as a serious diagnosis.  

If you think of a population as a bell-shaped curve, the dominant segment for the 80 percent in the middle will stay the same. Those 20 percent on both ends of the curve may shift, but the majority will remain the same.

The most practical approach in population health management is to use the dominant psychographic segment as the basis for communicating and motivating senior care patients. While it may not resonate with a minority of patients who shift between segments given extenuating circumstances, the majority can be motivated toward positive health behaviors using psychographic segmentation.

This applies to elderly healthcare consumers, too. Are you ready to help these patients overcome health hurdles and head down the path to higher engagement and improved outcomes?

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


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