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PatientBond’s New Whitepaper on Psychographic Segmentation


PatientBond just published the definitive paper on psychographics and its role in healthcare, “Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change.” The paper discusses the methodology behind the development of PatientBond’s psychographic segmentation model with case studies on its application and corresponding results. This comprehensive overview of PatientBond’s psychographic segmentation model will help healthcare stakeholders understand how a methodology used extensively in the Consumer Products and Retail industries to influence consumer behavior can be used to influence patient behavior. 

Psychographic Segmentation

Psychographics pertain to people’s attitudes, values, beliefs, lifestyles and personalities. They are the core to people’s motivations and communication preferences. Psychographic segmentation involves grouping people according to these shared characteristics for more effective targeting and engagement. Basing one’s proposition on a person’s intrinsic motivations and priorities enhances the likelihood that the proposition will be accepted and acted upon. 

In 1964, Harvard alumnus and social scientist Daniel Yankelovich wrote that traditional demographic traits — sex, age and education level — lacked the insights marketers needed to inform their strategies. He suggested the use of non-demographic segmentation to help companies better predict consumer behavior, to improve product development, distribution, pricing and advertising. Around the same time, market researcher Emanuel Demby began using the term ‘psychographics,’ to reference variations in attitudes, values and behaviors within a specific demographic segment.

Since the 1970’s, world-class companies such as Procter & Gamble, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens have used psychographic segmentation to understand consumer motivations and behaviors and to develop products, marketing and consumer experiences that influence purchase decisions. This author personally led the development of three generations of psychographic segmentation models in healthcare for Procter & Gamble before joining PatientBond. These psychographic segmentation models informed P&G strategy and product initiatives, and now the 4th generation psychographic segmentation model is helping to drive success for PatientBond clients who seek to influence and activate patient and other healthcare consumer behaviors.

The PatientBond Psychographic Segmentation Model 

The PatientBond psychographic segmentation model is based on a national market research study with a representative sample (n = 4,039) of consumers ages 18+, consistent with the U.S. Census. Respondents answered a comprehensive survey covering a variety of healthcare topics, and a factor analysis of these answers using statistical clustering procedures identifies five distinct “healthcare personalities” based on their approach to personal health, wellness and healthcare. PatientBond also developed an algorithm based on 12 survey questions that can predict which of the five segments a consumer belongs with 91.1% accuracy. The five psychographic segments include (percentages represent each segment’s share of the U.S. population ages 18+):

  • Self Achievers (19%): The most health proactive and wellness-oriented. Self Achievers invest in their health and appearance and among the least price sensitive when it comes to healthy products and healthcare services. Goals are important and they are driven by achievement and success. Self Achievers are the most likely to engage in preventative behaviors.
  • Balance Seekers (17%): Also proactive with health, nutrition and exercise, Balance Seekers are open to many approaches to wellness. They like to explore options and are more likely than other segments to use alternative or holistic medicine. While health-proactive, Balance Seekers are independent and place less emphasis on physicians and other healthcare professionals.
  • Priority Jugglers (18%): Reactive in healthcare for themselves, but proactive in getting care for their loved ones. Priority Jugglers tend to sacrifice their own wellbeing out of duty and dedication to family and friends, and always seem to be managing many responsibilities.
  • Direction Takers (15%): Reactive but relatively high utilizers of healthcare. Direction Takers seek directive guidance from healthcare professionals and respect credentials. However, they're not passive Direction Followers — if a doctor or nurse cannot frame a recommendation in a way that makes sense to them, Direction Takers may not be adherent.
  • Willful Endurers (31%): The largest segment, Willful Endurers are the least engaged in healthcare. They live for the moment, and unless a healthcare provider can help Willful Endurers understand how they can immediately benefit from a recommendation or request, they are less likely to follow through.

While each psychographic segment has different motivations and priorities, some may share similar behaviors. For example, Self Achievers and Balance Seekers are generally active and get the exercise they need, but Self Achievers take a purposeful approach to this exercise, making it part of a planned regimen with specific goals in mind, while Balance Seekers engage in activities they enjoy and that allow for “me time” away from other responsibilities. 

Thus, two people may appear similar in a set of behavioral data, but their motivations could be very different. Because of these motivational differences, each psychographic segment requires a different engagement strategy, whether interpersonally between provider and patient, or through digital communications such as email, text messages, Interactive Voice Response, in-app/portal messaging, etc. via the PatientBond platform. 

In fact, PatientBond not only personalizes messaging with segment-specific key words and phrases, it uses a segment-specific channel mix and frequency/cadence to optimize and amplify patient engagement. 

Segment Insights

PatientBond has repeated the national study twice over the past six years, along with category-specific studies involving dental care and produce/nutrition. The extensive studies from which the psychographic segmentation model was developed yielded millions of data points on health consumers that are being operationalized by PatientBond. Some provocative insights include:

  • 67 percent of frequent visitors to urgent care clinics are the Willful Endurer segment. One of PatientBond’s clients with dozens of urgent care centers conducted an analysis and found that much of the success of a clinic location was driven by a high population of Willful Endurers within a five-mile radius.
  • Self Achievers are the most likely to regularly use health apps and wearables.
  • Two segments — Self Achievers and Willful Endurers — represent 70 percent of all telehealth use.
  • The psychographic segments place different priorities on HCAHPS and HEDIS measures.
  • The optimal mix of communications channels (e.g., email, print, text message, phone call, etc.) and frequency of communications to activate behavior change differs significantly among the segments. Some segments prefer email for more extensive information while other want a text message or voice call. A single wave of email will most likely not activate desired behaviors among all five segments.

Operationalizing Psychographic Segmentation

In her Harvard Business Review article, “Psychographics Are Just as Important for Marketers as Demographics,” Alexandra Samuel stated:

“Until recently, however, it was a lot harder to get psychographics than demographics, and even if you had psychographic data, it wasn’t always obvious how to make it actionable.”

PatientBond has been able to practically apply psychographic insights to the personalization of patient/healthcare consumer engagement at scale, to activate desired behaviors. This psychographic segmentation model differentiates PatientBond from other patient engagement technologies in the marketplace, and has driven significant results:

  • 90% reduction in hospital readmissions for Congestive Heart Failure
  • 6-8X increase in patient response to mammography and diabetes screening communications
  • 4X increase in patient financial responsibility payments within 10 days, and a 15% increase in patients making payments that are overdue by more than 90 days

Visitors to PatientBond’s website can discover their own psychographic segment by quickly answering the short, 12-question survey. The website will provide a description of the respondent’s psychographic segment and allow one to compare with the other four segments, with examples of segment-specific communications.

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


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