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Psychographic Segmentation Offers Meaningful Use for EHRs

doctor_using_EHRA decade ago, in his State of the Union Address, then-President George W. Bush, set a goal that every American would benefit from an Electronic Health Record (EHR). The Affordable Care Act under Barack Obama provides an impetus to make this a reality.

While our health system falls well short of the Presidents’ goal, ten years is not a long time considering the size and complexity of the initiative. However, the pace of EHR adoption has accelerated in recent years, spurred on by federal investment of nearly $25 billion, according to a recent Washington Post blog. 

During a recent discussion organized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ashish Jha, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, noted, “There is no country in the world that has moved this far, this fast on EHR adoption.” Yet, in order to be eligible for such incentives, hospitals and physician practices must not only have EHRs in place, but also meet standards for meaningful use.

To take meaningful use to the next stage, health care providers may want to consider complementing their collected patient data with insights derived from psychographic segmentation.  More on this later…

What EHRs Bring to the Table

Health care practitioners and patients have high expectations for electronic health records. What are some of the potential benefits?

  • Hospitals and doctors coordinate care more effectively, improving outcomes and reducing patient readmissions.
  • More comprehensive patient histories reduce potential for medication errors or redundant procedures.
  • Overall health care costs go down as a result of safer, more efficient care.

U.S. House Republican, Michael Burgess of Texas, wasn’t always a fan of EHRs — but he is now, as he explained to Government Health IT Conference attendees this past June.

As an obstetrician, he witnessed some of the early — and expensive — growing pains for practices implementing health care IT. But following Hurricane Katrina, Representative Burgess saw first-hand how the complete loss of all paper records impacted health care providers and patients. EHRs — which can be stored on-site, off-site or in the cloud — are less susceptible to disasters that can devastate traditional paper records.  

What’s more, in today’s consumer-driven health care marketplace, an increasing number of patients expect — or even demand — health care that can synchronize with their own IT-centered lives. EHRs are a critical component in making that happen.

Moving from Warehousing Data to Meaningful Use

In order to qualify for CMS incentives, hospitals and individual practitioners must meet implementation standards. The stages vary slightly between individual practitioners and hospitals. Stage One objectives include:

  • Capturing typical patient data such as demographic data, vital signs and medical allergies
  • Automated drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction checks
  • Order entry for medications, labs and imaging, and more

Stage Two objectives are proving more challenging, since they require the sharing of data with public health agencies, other health care providers and patients. Yet, for those health care providers who have advanced EHRs in place, the data are coming in at a furious pace.

Hospitals and physicians are looking for new applications for this data, other than putting it to use in clinical settings. But finding meaningful uses for the data — outside of those defined by the CMS — requires deep insights into patient-consumers. For a health care system that is transitioning from volume to value, it is more important than ever for hospitals and physicians to engage patients in their own wellness.

While the patient data collected by EHRs can help providers identify consumer segments to engage, without understanding patient motivations and approaches to health care and wellness, engagement efforts can fall flat. EHRs can report WHO a patient is (demographics, health information) and WHAT she does (utilization), but they cannot tell WHY a patient behaves as she does, or HOW to best communicate with her. This is where psychographics come in.

Psychographics involve a consumer’s attitudes, lifestyle and personality, which are key to understanding her motivations.  Understanding a patient’s motivations allows one to communicate more effectively and persuasively.

Leveraging more than 50 years of experience uncovering health care consumer insights at P&G and honing psychographic methodologies, the experts at c2b solutions have developed a psychographic segmentation model that is 91.1% predictive of consumer behavior related to health and wellness.

c2b solutions is partnering with an IT company specializing in EHR and automated messaging (text, email, IVR/Interactive Voice Response, etc.) to integrate psychographic segmentation insights into patient outreach.  This will allow us to address opportunities such as 30 day readmission, medication adherence, and case management.

The deep insights of psychographics lend context and direction to the robust data of EHRs, making them more actionable — and, thus, more meaningful.

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

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