On October 8, 2020, PatientBond hosted its annual customer appreciation event, CustomerBond 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was virtual this year, but more than 100 Executives from leading hospitals, health systems and urgent care centers attended.
The event included:
- A session in which insights were shared from PatientBond's July 2020 market research on health consumer attitudes and behaviors in the era of COVID-19
- An executive panel discussing the challenges and opportunities facing the business of healthcare during the pandemic
- Breakout rooms to discuss various topics
Portions of the event (market research and executive panel) were recorded and can be viewed here.
Market Research Insights
Brent Walker, Chief Marketing Officer for PatientBond, presented the findings from PatientBond's July 2020 national market research on health consumer attitudes and behaviors in the era of COVID-19. The research included topics specific to hospitals/health systems, urgent care, primary care and specialist care. It also focused on digital health technology use pre, during and post/living with COVID to help anticipate utilization trends. This research was conducted to inform PatientBond digital engagement efforts and help its customers strengthen their strategies and marketing campaigns to drive patient volume and revenue.
Research insights were shared through the lens of psychographic segmentation, in which health consumers are identified and grouped according to their personalities, attitudes, beliefs, values and priorities as they pertain to health and wellness. There are five distinct psychographic segments in the PatientBond model, each requiring a unique engagement strategy to influence decisions and activate behaviors.
Note, insights from the study can also be broken out by demographics, socioeconomics, health condition and type of health insurance coverage.
Each psychographic segment approached COVID-19 in a way predicted by the model. For instance, Self Achievers were well-researched on the pandemic, consuming much information across various forms of media, while Priority Jugglers made sure their families were prepared.
Willful Endurers took a more casual approach, saying, "If I catch it, there's nothing I can do but make the most of each day." However, Willful Endurers - along with Self Achievers - were most likely to indicate that information on COVID from their healthcare providers was very important and if they felt they could be better prepared they would switch providers. The other three segments were not as demanding of providers regarding COVID information and preparation.
Two psychographic segments - Willful Endurers and Self Achievers - make up 3/4 of people who visit an urgent care center at least once per year. In fact, Willful Endurers represent 70% of all quarterly visitors to an urgent care center, underscoring the importance of being able to identify these health consumers to drive patient acquisition and loyalty.
It also highlights a significant opportunity to attract the other three psychographic segments with value propositions that appeal to their priorities. For instance, busy Priority Jugglers would like a live, digital waitlist so they can spend their valuable time being productive while waiting in the queue to be seen. Balance Seekers want to be made aware of health screenings and education, while Direction Takers appreciate appointment and test reminders.
When asked to identify the top reasons for switching urgent care providers, both Willful Endurers and Self Achievers indicated a poor billing experience would prompt a switch, and Willful Endurers stated they wanted payment reminders.
Hospitals & Health Systems
Similar to the frequent visitor dynamic seen with urgent care, Willful Endurers account for 2/3 of all patients who visit an Emergency Room at least once per year. A key characteristic of Willful Endurers is the need for immediate benefit and an aversion to waiting for services, helping to explain why they seek immediate care when needed. Separately, Self Achievers are 3X - 7X more likely than the other three segments to visit an ER at least twice per year.
The market research included 34 factors influencing a patient's choice of hospital, and the top driver of choice across all five segments was "prior experience with the hospital." Physician referrals played a strong role across segments, as did hospital reputation. Segments driven by convenience, such as Balance Seekers and Willful Endurers, indicated hospital location was a top 3 influencer of choice. Importantly, Self Achievers and Willful Endurers are up to 7X more likely than other segments to indicate that they are influenced by advertising and social media.
The study examined health consumer use of a list of digital health technologies pre-COVID-19 (before March 2020), during the rise of COVID-19 (March - June 2020) and living with COVID-19 (July 2020 and beyond).
Only 11.6% of the population used telemedicine before the pandemic, and this study reinforced previous PatientBond research, which found that more than 70% of telemedicine use was driven by Self Achievers and Willful Endurers. However, 30.5% of study respondents indicated they planned to use telemedicine in the future. Self Achievers lead the segments in intended use, but Balance Seekers and Direction Takers indicated a jump in likely use.
Home testing/diagnostics doubled in intended use going forward and text messaging with providers jumped 60% in intended use.
Not all technologies saw a bump in likely use. Smartphone health & fitness apps and health portals were noted to experience slight declines in utilization. Healthcare providers counting on these channels need to effectively reframe their value to health consumers if they hope to maximize their use.
A panel of executives from hospitals, health systems and urgent care discussed pressing issues facing healthcare organizations during this challenging time. Participants included:
- Terri Hanlon-Bremer, Chief Operating Officer, TriHealth Corporate Health
- Matt Casselton, VP Marketing and Consumer Engagement, Trinity Health
- Harpreet Cheema, VP Payer Strategy and Product Development, Trinity Health
- Jerry Creech, VP Revenue Services, Fast Pace Health
- Steven Szakaly, VP Consumer Insights and Analytics, Lehigh Valley Health Network
One of the biggest challenges facing healthcare providers involves patient delaying care, even at this point in the pandemic. Patients have been forgoing mammograms and colonoscopies, missing critical services that could result in significant negative consequences. This has been especially pronounced among Willful Endurers.
Response rates to COVID-19 patient communications and education have also underperformed expectations. Health systems are now starting to use psychographic insights to personalize communications, resonating with each segment to boost response.
Safety and trust are concepts that are being enhanced in patient communications among healthcare organizations, addressing patient concerns or fears with COVID. Interestingly, in the PatientBond market research discussed above, "poor cleanliness of facility" was the #1 reason for Balance Seekers to switch hospitals or urgent care centers, ahead of "my healthcare insurance company does not cover the provider," which was the leading reason for switches among the other segments.
An emerging threat to traditional care models was the rise of retailers, both bricks and mortar like Walmart and online like Amazon, getting into healthcare. These companies have unmatched scale and use consumer data and insights for competitive advantage. If traditional healthcare providers don't adapt and become truly consumer-centric, they risk losing to this emerging competition.
Several panelists expressed an interest in determining the psychographic segment among clinicians and matching them to patient segments. PatientBond has done this work with several healthcare organizations with impressive results.
To watch a recording of the executive panel, click here.
After the general session, attendees chose which of three virtual "rooms" to visit covering separate topics:
- PatientBond Digital Health Solution (Overview/Demo): Demonstration of PatientBond's comprehensive digital health platform, including virtual visits, secure messaging and many other capabilities
- PatientBond Marketing Insights App (Overview/Demo): Demonstration of the new dashboard for instant access to PatientBond's market research and psychographic segmentation insights. This includes attitudes, behaviorsm conditions, heatmaps and many other deep level insights into health consumer motivations and behaviors.
- Healthcare Opportunities and Challenges (Interactive Discussion): A discussion of the business of healthcare in the new age of the Digital Healthcare Consumer and how it will affect growth, revenue, costs and cash.
The event received much positive feedback from attendees who found it engaging, informative and a valuable investment of time. CustomerBond is held annually, and white the virtual format worked, it is hoped that in 2021 we will be beyond COVID and can meet in-person again.