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How Do Patients’ Motivations Change Over Time?

How Do Patients’ Motivations Change Over Time?

Market segmentation dates back to the early 1900s. However, as technology has advanced, so have the ways that healthcare organizations identify, cluster and message consumers to drive patient engagement.

  • Demographic data about a population and the groups within it provides hard numbers on age, gender, income, marital status and ethnicity. Healthcare providers can leverage such statistics to message on care relative to a patient’s age or gender, such as vaccinations, mammograms or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests.
  • Geographic data enables clustering and targeting of consumers based on location—local, regional, national or international. It’s a tactic that healthcare providers have used to promote medical tourism, such as efforts by Northwest Specialty Hospital (NSH) in Post Falls, Idaho to market orthopedic and bariatric procedures to Canadians who might otherwise wait extended periods those surgeries.
  • Diagnostic data also plays a prominent role when it comes to segmenting healthcare consumers. Patients with heart disease or diabetes, for example, receive targeted educational materials and other communications based on the diagnosis.

Despite all this data, motivating behavior changes that lead to improved health outcomes continue to challenge healthcare providers. That’s where psychographic segmentation can move the needle. As Chip & Dan Heath write in Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, “For individuals’ behavior to change, you’ve got to influence not only their environment but their hearts and minds.”

What is Psychographic Segmentation?

Demographic, geographic and diagnostic data are important. They provide an objective, but a superficial view of population segments — young or old; near or far; healthy or sick. These types of segmentation answer the WHO. But if healthcare providers want patients to actively engage in healthy behaviors, follow treatment plans, make appointments for preventive care or pay their bills in a timely fashion, you have to understand the decisions patients make.

Psychographic segmentation answers the WHY behind those decisions. The c2b Psychographic Segmentation model focuses on subjective factors — attitudes, values, beliefs and expectations — that healthcare consumers bring to the exam table.

The c2B Consumer Classifier uses 12 simple questions to segment consumers into one of five psychographic segments:

  • Self Achievers — As the name suggests, Self Achievers are proactive when it comes to their health. This cohort accounts for 19 percent of healthcare consumers. Self Achievers value the expertise of healthcare providers and respond favorably to being given measurable goals to track progress.
  • Balance Seekers — Representing 17 percent of healthcare consumers, Balance Seekers are proactive and wellness-oriented, but they look to a variety of sources for health and wellness advice — not just healthcare professionals.
  • Priority Jugglers — Tied with Balance Seekers at 18 percent of healthcare consumers, Priority Jugglers struggle to make their own health a priority because of other commitments to work and family. However, when it comes to the health and wellness of family members, Priority Jugglers are more proactive.
  • Direction Takers — The smallest segment at 15 percent of healthcare consumers, Direction Takers trust the advice of healthcare professionals, but often struggle to incorporate those recommendations into their daily schedule.
  • Willful Endurers — Reactive and self-reliant, these consumers don’t necessarily worry about the long-term consequences of their behaviors. They live in the moment and do what they want. 31 percent of healthcare consumers are Willful Endurers, and unsurprisingly, Millennials and younger consumers tend to skew even more strongly toward this segment.

By understanding how individuals approach healthcare experiences, providers are better positioned to motivate behaviors that lead to better health outcomes.

Adapting to Patients’ Changing Attitudes

Once a patient or cohort of patients has been classified using psychographic segmentation, hospitals and other healthcare organizations can fine-tune how they approach consumers — crafting patient communications likely to motivate desired behaviors, messaging on preferred channels to boost patient engagement, developing action plans that inspire change and ultimately, better health outcomes.

But it’s important to remember that attitudes change. Age can play a role, but so can less predictable factors, like life experiences. Take a young Willful Endurer. In youth, many people feel invincible. But as people age and the responsibilities of marriage, children and career increase, the pressure can turn a live-and-let-live Willful Endurer into a Priority Juggler who can be motivated to more proactive self-care with reminders of how much others depend on him or her. Similarly, an older Willful Endurer might become a more proactive Balance Seeker following the birth of a grandchild or a goal-driven Self Achiever after being given a serious health diagnosis.

To provide real continuity of care in which patient engagement thrives and health outcomes improve, healthcare organizations need to understand how patients’ attitudes are reshaped over time. What information do you still need about healthcare consumers to make that happen?

For more on psychographic segmentation and its influence on health outcomes, download our whitepaper.

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


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