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Mobile Tech Has Mixed Appeal for Health Care Consumers

mobile-techWith the astronomical rise of mobile technology in recent years — and the more recent boom in health care-related mobile apps — hospitals are looking to revolutionize both patient engagement and delivery of care with innovative technologies. But as retailers already understand so well, adoption of mobile technologies varies among consumers, requiring unique approaches to engage individual consumer segments.  

In a time of growing health care consumerism, hospitals, too, must develop a clear picture of each segment within their patient population in order to implement digital strategies or roll out new technologies that positively impact patient outcomes. 

How One Health System is Taking Inspiration from Apple

Ochsner Health System in New Orleans has been among H&HN’s “Most Wired” for the past eight years in a row. Like many of the organizations on the list, Ochsner may have begun the odyssey in response to mandates to convert from paper to electronic health records, but the health system has embraced the transition whole-heartedly. 

Warner Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Ochsner told H&HN, “We realize that health care is becoming more retail-based and more transparent with patients who are more educated and will be armed with more information. With that, we have to be more patient-centric and focused on their needs.”  

Toward that end, Ochsner has initiated several successful technology-based programs, including:

  • A comprehensive EHR system with a portal for post-acute providers to ensure that all providers across the patients’ continuum of care have access to patient profiles including discharge summaries
  • A disease registry that collates data from its EHR, community providers and payers to help providers effectively engage population segments in their care, such as using mobile alerts to remind patients to take medicine

Perhaps the most innovative offering from Ochsner is the O Bar.  

Inspired by Apple’s Genius Bar and a slew of mHealth apps currently available, the O Bar is designed to connect consumers with the best apps for their particular needs. A tech team evaluates apps, offers downloading assistance and even tutorials to help patients use the apps effectively. 

As Ochsner’s chief clinical transformation officer, Richard Milani, M.D., notes, “The apps are out there and people are going to get them. The smart thing for us to do is get our hands around what we think are pretty good apps and make them more helpful to patients.” Why? In addition to the fact that more engaged patients are likely to enjoy better outcomes, health care providers must address another pesky issue driven by health care consumerism — shopping around. 

Just as retailers from Amazon to Zappos have focused on developing customer loyalty, hospitals and clinics need to attract — and keep — patients. Innovative programs like the O Bar will be critical in that effort.  

Using Consumer Segmentation to Engage Patients

The health care marketplace is transitioning from a volume-based model to one centered on value and outcomes where health care consumerism is beginning to dominate. It is more important than ever, now, that hospitals and other health care providers effectively engage patients — whether with the latest digital technologies or less high-tech approaches. 

Consumer segmentation can provide much needed insights to help these organizations develop more effective approaches to patient engagement. 

Demographic segmentation including gender, age, ethnicity, or income can provide some guidance. Based on well-documented analysis, for example, Generation X patients may be the most likely adopters of mHealth apps; however, even among such a large population, use of mHealth apps is not guaranteed — in fact, there are segments within all age groups that are more, or less, likely to use apps or various media.

Psychographic segmentation groups individuals by shared values, principles, interests or lifestyles and transcends gender, age, ethnicity or income. It taps into consumers’ motivations and provides context for their behaviors. It can also be the key to identifying the most effective messaging and media that appeal to various patient types.

c2b solutions identified five distinct psychographic segments based on how consumers approach health and wellness:

  • Self Achievers: The most proactive, wellness-oriented segment; Invests in health and appearance; Prioritizes physician engagement; Goals and measure-driven; Competitive
  • Balance Seekers: The next most wellness-oriented; Self-directed and does not rely on healthcare professionals; High vitamins/minerals/supplements and alternative medicine use.
  • Priority Jugglers: Prioritizes family and responsibilities over own health and wellness. Thus, they ensure others get the care they need, but often ignore their own needs until they have to address them.
  • Direction Takers: Reactive and need prescriptive guidance from healthcare professionals. Once they receive this direction, they typically follow it.
  • Willful Endurers: The least wellness-oriented; Lives for the moment and has a difficult time changing habits; Least compliant and very independent

Each segment has its own motivations and preferences for education and communications. 

For example, Balance Seekers are statistically (95% confidence) for likely than all other segments to rely on the Internet for their health information. Balance Seekers and Priority Jugglers are more likely to have a smart phone. Balance Seekers are also the most likely to download health & fitness apps — Self Achievers are the second most likely — but Willful Endurers are most likely to download health insurance and pharmaceutical company apps.

The deeper insights provided by psychographic segmentation can help providers target users with more precision by addressing unspoken needs and leveraging preferred media to motivate the desired behaviors. 

In fact, this deep perspective is even more critical when hospitals want to target consumer segments that are less likely to be digital adopters due to age or other characteristics. In the end, as Dr. Milani points out, “… medicine is going through a revolution” and hospitals must market to health care consumers in new ways if they want to succeed. 

To learn how psychographic segmentation can help you launch effective mHealth initiatives, contact c2b solutions

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

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