How to Encourage Heart-Healthy Behaviors in Patients of All Ages
Cardiovascular health is sometimes only thought of once a person has reached adulthood and has a reason to address it, whether that’s because of a health scare or general well-being. It’s important, however, to ensure that we focus on heart health in patients of all ages, even teenagers and young adults.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), there are seven key criteria that a patient must meet to be considered heart healthy:
- Optimal Blood Pressure
- Physical Activity
- Good Cholesterol Levels
- Healthy Diet
- Healthy Weight
- Not Smoking
- Ideal Blood Glucose
Less than 1% of American children meet all seven of these criteria. In adults, approximately 5% meet six criteria, and 0% meet all seven. The most common criteria that is lacking - in both children and adults - is a healthy diet.
In order to change these numbers, increase heart health and decrease cardiovascular disease, something needs to change. It is critical to remember, though, that children, teenagers and adults all communicate differently from one another and differently within their age group. Communicating with someone incorrectly is ineffective. If someone rarely checks their email inbox, chances are they won’t look there first for information on cardiovascular health. Or, if you contact someone using a method that annoys them, like a text message, they could be turned off entirely.
Improving Communication with Psychographic Segmentation
One of the best ways to accurately communicate with patients is by using psychographic segmentation. Segmentation is an age-old way of dividing the general population to better target messaging. In consumer and retail industries, people have been segmented in many different ways whether that’s by demographics, location, education or any particular trait.
Psychographics are a little different, as they refer to people’s beliefs, values, lifestyles and more. PatientBond’s psychographic segmentation model was developed specifically for healthcare by experts at Procter & Gamble. PatientBond uses these insights to create customized communications that are based on the needs and desires of each individual patient. In a 2018 PatientBond market research study, participants were asked how they preferred getting information about their health condition. The graph below is a snapshot of what each segment preferred, but it shows how varied audiences can be based on their psychographics. By catering to what your segment prefers, you can target your audiences much more effectively.
Improving Heart Health with Segmentation and Motivation
Once a health provider understands their patients’ preferred methods of communication, they can better convey important health information. They can know who prefers emails and who would rather have a phone call. Some patients, especially younger patients, would rather access their information on an app on their phone or computer.
In an effort to improve overall cardiovascular health, the AHA and PatientBond have worked together to create the Health Motivation Platform. This platform provides customizable technology that is specifically designed to improve cardiovascular health. One of the programs included on the platform is the Health Enhancement Program that helps patients manage their general wellness.
By sending patients reminders through the Health Motivation Platform or their preferred means of communication, healthcare providers can help their patients remember to improve those criteria from the AHA. Whether you provide education or actionable tips, being in communication with your patients can improve their health outcomes.
Common Ways to Improve Heart Health for Patients of Different Age Groups
Certainly, each patient will have a different and unique case, but there are some general ways to encourage healthy behavior in all patients.
- Send an email to a middle-aged patient with patient education on blood pressure. Explain what blood pressure is, how to lower it and how long it might take for the patient to see changes in their numbers.
- Send a notification through the Health Motivation Platform to a young-adult patient who might be away at college. Remind them to get some exercise, and include a few easy ideas they could implement immediately.
- Create and send a video of natural ways to lower cholesterol to patients who are nearing the time when they might need medication. Include foods to eat and those to avoid, exercises to do and any additional tips that could help decrease their LDL.
- Create a choose-this-not-that infographic to give to young patients to encourage them to make healthy food choices.
- Provide insight into what a healthy weight is, as well as ways to maintain it while maintaining moderation. Talk through this with teenage patients who might need some information and encouragement.
- Call an older patient struggling to give up smoking. Provide yourself as a resource as they work through their temptations or as a cheerleader when they have a good day.
- Send updates to middle-aged patients who have a family history of diabetes. Remind them to get their blood sugar checked, as well as ways to decrease their chance of developing diabetes.
There are many other ways you could communicate with your patients to help them improve their cardiovascular health. These are just a few examples that meet each of the AHA’s seven criteria of a healthy heart. The key is to create a meaningful conversation with patients to encourage better health outcomes. Psychographic segmentation and the Health Motivation Platform is incredibly useful for this. For more information on how it works, check out PatientBond’s whitepaper on how psychographics can improve heart health.