How to Improve Health Outcomes of Baby Boomers in 2019
In 2017, CNBC projected that Medicare and Medicaid costs will more than double by 2020, thanks to baby boomers who are retiring at an impressive rate of 10,000 men and women a day. Is the healthcare system ready? Not quite. As an AARP report notes, “The U.S. stands out for the high cost of healthcare and its failure to generate better health outcomes.” Since healthcare costs tend to climb as people age, we’re facing a potential financial crisis—unless healthcare providers focus on improving baby boomer health outcomes.
Use Psychographic Segmentation to Motivate Individuals
Traditional approaches to engaging patients—at any age—are simply not as effective as they once were. In taking on more of the healthcare cost burden, consumers have changed their expectations for healthcare providers. Personalized experiences, cost transparency and convenience are the new norm; after all, that’s what they get from their favorite retail brands. How can healthcare organizations meet the expectations of baby boomers to move the needle on health outcomes?
Classifying patients based on broad demographics provides a limited perspective of individuals. Certainly, specific demographic factors can inform care recommendations. Age, for example, is a framework for determining when individuals need vaccines or routine wellness tests. But life experience tells us that knowing what’s good for you and doing it are two different hurdles that healthcare providers must overcome in order to improve baby boomer health outcomes.
Psychographic segmentation is one key to activating and maintaining patient engagement. How? It breaks down patient types—not by broadly shared characteristics, but by the unique attitudes, beliefs, motivations and preferences that healthcare consumers bring to the table. Some are proactive and goal-focused; others are less so, even resistant.
In the 2018 c2b Consumer Diagnostic, baby boomers are asked how much they agree with the statement “I’ll spend whatever it takes to be healthy.” Fewer baby boomers are Balance Seekers, who think more holistically than Self Achievers, who are goal oriented. Despite this, baby boomers align more closely with Balance Seekers on this statement, meaning baby boomers aren’t all the same. So, if baby boomers can vary by psychographic segment, why would the healthcare industry market to all of them in the same way?
By fine-tuning patient education materials, communications and tools to appeal to specific psychographic segments, hospitals and other healthcare providers can build stronger, personalized connections with patients and motivate more compliance with wellness or treatment plans. With compliance comes improved baby boomer health outcomes.
Address Those Cost Concerns
We’ve noted previously that “baby boomers, fiscally speaking, have been one of the most unprepared generations in US history.” With many baby boomers struggling with financial security, the potential cost of healthcare post-retirement is a major sticking point. To keep cost-conscious baby boomers engaged, change is needed.
In its report on medical cost trends, PWC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) projects that costs will grow by 6 percent this year, in keeping with recent trends. The report notes, “Healthcare providers, drug companies and payers should develop plans to address the ongoing and intensifying focus on prices from consumers, lawmakers and the media. This could mean developing more affordable options, embracing true price transparency or demonstrating the provided service’s value.” The report offers several potential fixes:
- Prove the ROI of healthcare by offering “predictable prices” that lead to consistent health outcomes.
- Offer pricing transparency and clinical decision-making tools that empower patients to make informed choices and support personalized treatments.
- Focus on quality and customer satisfaction: When consumers are happy with a brand (healthcare included), it translates to improved loyalty and engagement.
- Convenience, of course, also plays a role in customer satisfaction. The PWC report states, “Responding to increased consumer pressure, employers and health plans are improving convenience by giving consumers more ways to get care.” Care alternatives like telemedicine or video visits may be just what the doctor ordered when it comes to engaging baby boomers who find getting to an office visit challenging or are more reactive when it comes to healthcare.
Embrace Consumer-Friendly Technology
Pew Research analyzed technology adoption by generation and found that baby boomers are not as tech-resistant as one might think. Eighty-three percent of younger boomers are comfortable surfing the internet for healthcare information, as are 76 percent of older boomers. They recognize the positive potential of smart devices, but also see a downside in terms of societal impact.
The right technology can also help healthcare organizations connect with and engage healthcare consumers. PatientBond behavior change technology, for example, leverages psychographic segmentation to identify the best approach for communicating with patients—from the types of messages that will inspire action to the preferred channels for pushing out those messages. A more individualized approach has proven effective for:
- Reducing readmissions
- Promoting age-appropriate health screenings, preventive care and wellness programs
- Reducing missed appointments
With additional insights from psychographic segmentation, healthcare providers can also identify which patients are most likely to make use of smart technology that can lead to positive baby boomer health outcomes. For example, the most technology-motivated patients can benefit from using personalized apps or wearable sensors to gain real-time insights into their health. One study found that a patient symptom monitoring system resulted in 44 percent fewer days of moderate or severe health symptoms compared to patients receiving more traditional care.
Given the size of the aging baby boomer population, improving baby boomer health outcomes must be a top priority in coming years to ensure quality of life while reducing healthcare costs. As the American Society on Aging notes, “The focus will be on helping consumers to stay healthy, catch issues early, and avoid expensive and potentially debilitating hospitalizations.”
What tools and tactics do you need to adopt to achieve those goals? Get a better look when you download our psychographic segmentation whitepaper.