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Don't Waste Your Hospital's IT Investment

wasting-it-investmentLast month, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) released a report highlighting the jump in EHR implementation. The number of physicians using advanced EHRs has doubled since 2009, and the adoption rate of advanced EHRs by hospitals has quadrupled since 2010.

Implementing all of this health care IT has been a time-consuming and costly project for health care providers, so it is not surprising that they are now eager to see a return on investment. While suggestions abound for leveraging EHR data to streamline hospital processes and enhance patient experiences, the data alone is not enough to change patient behaviors.

In order to truly impact patient outcomes in the long run, health care providers need patient engagement strategies that draw insights from both EHR data and the consumers themselves. Think of it as a marriage of Big Data with “Small Data”, drawing upon insights on WHY patients behave the way they do (the WHAT), captured in medical claims data.

The Digital Revolution Has Just Begun

The U.S. health care system is actually a late entrant in the digital revolution. While other industries embraced digital technology, health care lagged behind. Eventually, the 2009 federal economic stimulus package– which incentivized health care providers to computerize — got the ball rolling. The more recent Affordable Care Act gave it another kick. But is it headed in the right direction?

The Washington Post recently reported on the rapidly growing health care technology market and one of its biggest players — the database software company, InterSystems.

While not a household name, InterSystems is at the foundation of many IT solutions:

  • National health services of England, Scotland and Wales
  • Trading systems at Credit Suisse
  • And even the European Space Agency’s project to map the Milky Way

Here in the U.S., InterSystems database software used by EHR-leader, Epic, supports the U.S. Defense Department health system along with numerous federal and state systems. Terry Ragon, owner of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, understands just how challenging an IT implementation can be.

Having watched the less-than-stellar launch of healthcare.gov, he notes, “Health care is a lot more complicated than everybody thinks. Large-scale IT projects are a lot more complicated than everybody thinks. When you put the two together, you have a recipe for disaster.”

Still, Ragon has high hopes for a system that will eventually connect health care data in meaningful ways so that a single view of a person’s health history is visible to all health care providers.

The Other Piece of the Puzzle

The single view of a patient may be some years away, but hospitals and physicians need to make good use of the data right away if they want to recoup their IT investments.

Patient analytics may help providers identify and segment patient groups based on demographics or health condition, but effective patient engagement strategies require deeper insights than these physical or behavioral variables.

Not all patients of similar age, ethnicity, gender, income or health condition are motivated by the same things. While behaviors may be similar, the reasons behind these behaviors will vary. Understanding the differences in motivations is the key to unlocking behavior change.

Each September, stars put on teal ribbons and health care providers reach out to women to draw attention to Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month– yet statistics show that 60 percent of women are not diagnosed with ovarian cancer until they are already at stage 3 of the disease. So why isn’t awareness higher? There are probably myriad reasons, but one could be because messaging isn’t touching the right people at the right time.

c2b solutions has developed a proprietary psychographic segmentation model that can help hospitals, physicians, pharmacists and health insurance companies develop better patient engagement strategies by defining patient needs on a deeper level:

  • Breaking down consumer segments based on lifestyle, motivations and approaches to health and well-being
  • Identifying better ways to motivate consumer behaviors
  • Personalizing messages and services to influence consumers
  • Choosing the right media channel to reach consumers.

Using health care market research and more refined segmentation ensures that health care providers are able to leverage their own data more effectively. When data is put to work, providers are able to work with patients to improve outcomes — medication non-compliance, encouraging wellness habits or educating women about the warning signs for ovarian cancer.

After investing so much to build health IT systems, missing opportunities to improve patient outcomes through patient activation is not an option. Contact c2b solutions to learn how organizations are developing more effective patient engagement strategies using our extensive consumer insights and psychographic segmentation model.

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

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