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What Do Healthcare Consumers Really Care About?

doctor-talking-with-concerned-patientForty-million dollars — that’s the price tag for hospital renovation and expansion projects announced last year by Box Butte Regional Hospital in Nebraska and Covenant Health in Texas. One billion dollars is being spent on building the Baylor Clinic and Hospital on 35 acres in the midst of Texas Medical Center’s campus. The budgets for modernizing existing hospitals or building new ones are significant, and can result in impressive healthcare environments. But can a luxurious setting influence patient satisfaction scores?

In order to answer that question, hospitals first need to understand what really matters to patients when it comes to care—and psychographic segmentation can help answer that question.

The First Impression Won’t Override the Experience

MedCity News considered the hospital building boom and its impact on patient satisfaction in a recent article. After noting that in the last decade, a growing number of hospitals executives have cited improving patient satisfaction as the motivation for an estimated $200 billion spent on new building, MedCity looked at the results of a study conducted by Dr. Zishan Siddiqui.

Dr. Siddiqui became curious about whether the hospital surroundings truly raise patient satisfaction in 2012 after Johns Hopkins Medicine opened its Sheikh Zayed Tower, a facility replete with a meditation garden, library and 500 works of art.

The study, published in February of this year, compared patient satisfaction scores for patients treated in older buildings at Johns Hopkins versus those from patients served in the new building. Dr. Siddiqui found:

  • Patient ratings about cleanliness and quiet were higher in the new facility.
  • The pleasantness of the décor and comfort offered by the new facility also received positive ratings.
  • Opinions about care quality, particularly communication, did not rise in new buildings compared to old buildings.

This last finding is significant because 60 percent of the HCAHPS Hospital Survey questions are related to patient communication. As Dr. Siddiqui and his co-authors wrote in the study, “Despite the widespread belief among health care leadership that facility renovation or expansion is a vital strategy for improving patient satisfaction, our study shows that this may not be a dominant factor.” This study was not alone in its conclusions.

Med City News also cited a study by J.D. Power and Associates that found that the healthcare facility accounted for only one-fifth of the patient satisfaction scores.

As one physician wrote on a blog following the study, “It just might be that what doctors do and say matters, and a first-class meal and green gardens cannot paper over, or in the converse, sully our evaluations.”

Psychographic Insights Can Inform Hospital Investment Decisions

Psychographics pertain to consumers’ values, attitudes, personalities and lifestyles. Understanding these factors is the key to unlock patients’ motivations and satisfaction. Grouping patients according to shared psychographics helps to categorize populations by shared motivations. Because each psychographic segment is motivated by different things, preferences and perceptions of quality will also differ by segment.

A combined 23 years between P&G and PatientBond conducting market research on patient preferences has convinced me that communications between patient and healthcare professional is a — if not the — leading factor in patient satisfaction. But communication preferences also differ by psychographic segment. It is reasonable to assume that psychographics also play into preferences regarding environmental/building design.

If spending millions or even billions of dollars have only have a modest impact on improving patient satisfaction, then hospitals need to also spend time getting to know what patients need to feel more positive about their investments — whether in building design or how caregivers communicate before, during and after a hospital stay.

PatientBond is beginning work informing medical environmental/building design with psychographic insights, but already has much experience leveraging such insights in improving provider communications.

While demographic segmentation can provide some insights along specific ethnic, socio-economic or cultural backgrounds, approaching patients with similar backgrounds or shared diagnoses will fail to generate the desired results. A hospital can, for example, develop discharge communications in a second language to meet the needs of a target demographic, but fail to motivate the necessary engagement for successful recoveries among this group. Why?  Because individual patients have different attitudes towards healthcare, lifestyles and motivations that are not addressed by a one-size-fits all solution.

The proprietary psychographic segmentation model developed by PatientBond gets to the core of these differences, dividing healthcare consumers into five distinct groups using its Consumer Classifier. Answers to the series of 12 questions in the PatientBond Consumer Classifier allow it to identify which of five psychographic segments a patient belongs with 91.1% predictability. 

This unlocks deep-seated healthcare consumer attitudes and beliefs that determine whether a patient will prefer a hands-on, directive approach versus a more self-directed approach to follow after discharge. It also helps anticipate how a patient would answer the hundreds of market research questions from the PatientBond Consumer Diagnostic to aid a healthcare organization in its strategies and patient engagement efforts.

How could your communications or medical building’s environmental design — and your patient satisfaction scores — improve if you have better insight into what your patients need through psychographic segmentation?

Learn more by downloading our whitepaper on patient activation or contact PatientBond to arrange a consultation today.

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


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