It goes without saying that it has been an extremely difficult year for hospitals, urgent care centers, medical groups and other healthcare organizations. The COVID-19 pandemic curtailed patient traffic, and while telehealth helped to fill a gap, it couldn't stop the hemorrhage of revenue that afflicted these providers due to the cessation of elective procedures and health consumers delaying medical care.
A key to a successful recovery is understanding health consumer priorities and motivations and engaging them in a way that activates desired behaviors, such as making an appointment for a checkup, flu shot or screening, or choosing a specific healthcare provider over its competitors. This can be extra challenging with limited marketing budgets and staff. A survey from Binary Fountain found the biggest areas where healthcare marketers were cutting spending due to the coronavirus were media and paid advertising (down 38.5%) and team members (down 36.2%).
So how does one boost revenues when resources are significantly streamlined? I'll call upon a model we used at Procter & Gamble over my twenty-year career there in Healthcare Marketing: The Brand Building Framework. Simple in concept but rigorous in its requirement of deep consumer insights and data. It's based upon the WHO, WHY, WHAT, HOW and WHY of the consumer.
The Brand Building Framework
- WHO is your target consumer?
- WHY does your target consumer make their decisions, choices and behaviors?
- WHAT behavior are you trying to influence and WHAT is your proposition?
- HOW are you going to reach your target consumer (media, channels, promotion, etc.)?
Your Strategic Target is the population of consumers who have a reasonable need for your product or service. Your Prime Prospect is that subset of the Strategic Target who represent the greatest likelihood of disproportionate revenue growth (or cost savings) over the next 18-24 months. Absent infinite resources and an army of marketing personnel, it's this Prime Prospect one must focus on to immediately boost revenue. Hypertargeting is critical to maximize your likelihood of success.
Health consumers are not a homogenous mass who think and act in lockstep, nor will a "one size fits all" approach work to drive desired behaviors. One must understand the spectrum of motivations and priorities driving health consumer behavior. This requires a lot of data and insights, but a traditional approach to narrowing in on subsets of a population is consumer segmentation.
Segmentation involves grouping people according to shared characteristics. Healthcare organizations typically do this with demographics (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity, etc.), socioeconomics (e.g., income, education, insurance coverage, etc.) or health condition. It's a nice start, but not all members of such groups think and act alike, either.
Behavioral segmentation relies on claims, utilization and purchase data to predict future behaviors, but two people can behave the same way and have two totally different motivations for doing so. For example, one patient may follow a clinician's advice out of a sense of duty to his or her family while another patient is adherent because they see a health issue as a challenge to be conquered. Marketing messages are most effective when they resonate at an emotional level, consistent with the individual's priorities.
A form of consumer segmentation focusing on psychographics groups people according to shared motivations and priorities. It provides a lens to consumers' ways of thinking and how they make decisions.
Psychographics pertain to people's attitudes, values, beliefs and personalities, which are core to their motivations and communication preferences. Psychographic segmentation allows a marketer to identify health consumer types who are most likely to respond to a given subject and to craft messaging that activates desired behaviors. Psychographic segmentation has been used extensively in the consumer products, retail, automotive and financial industries since the 1970's, but it is new to healthcare.
My team led the psychographic segmentation work for Procter & Gamble Healthcare, developing three generations of models before I joined PatientBond. PatientBond's model is an evolution of that work and has identified five distinct psychographic segments among health consumers (numbers in parentheses are the percentages of the U.S. population age 18+ represented by that segment:
- Self Achievers (19%) - Goal oriented and motivated by measurable progress, Self Achievers are the most proactive and invested in their health.
- Balance Seekers (17%) - Seeking options and choices and driven by knowledge and new information, Balance Seekers are also wellness-focused and explore different avenues to healthy living.
- Priority Jugglers (18%) - Focused on responsibilities and managing a busy schedule, Priority Jugglers may not invest in their own health but make sure their loved ones get the care they need.
- Direction Takers (15%) - Wanting directive guidance from an expert healthcare professional, Direction Takers are higher utilizers of the healthcare system but do not generally exhibit preventative behaviors.
- Willful Endurers (31%) - Living in the "here and now" and wanting immediate gratification, Willful Endurers are reactive - and often disengaged - in their healthcare.
PatientBond developed a 1-minute survey (the Classifier) that allows a marketer (or clinician) to identify a health consumer's psychographic segment with 91.1% accuracy. However, it may not be feasible for a healthcare organization to get thousands, if not millions, of patients and other consumers to answer a survey quickly. So how does one identify the segment makeup of a large population?
Until recently, it has been difficult to identify psychographic segments among individuals in a large population, because few companies kept databases of consumer attitudes and beliefs. It's relatively easy to segment people by age, gender, purchase behavior or hospital utilization rate, because these data are readily accessible.
PatientBond partnered with a national data compiler company to statistically project its five psychographic segments across the entire U.S. population over the age of 18. While not as accurate as the Classifier survey, the projected data can be appended to any consumer database to tag individuals by psychographic segment. The data can also identify individuals by segment in any geography, to gauge segment representation at the household, block or zip code level.
Let's say, for example, a health system is looking to expand its urgent care presence in a community. In defining a Prime Prospect, it's determined that Willful Endurers represent the greatest opportunity, because Willful Endurers represent 2/3 of frequent urgent care visitors (according to PatientBond national market research fielded in July 2020). Heatmapping the community to determine the highest concentration of Willful Endurers enables smart locations for urgent care facilities and targeting digital and traditional advertising.
One of PatientBond's clients, a multi-state health system with nearly 100 urgent care centers, analyzed hundreds of variables to determine why certain urgent care centers were successful and why others underperformed. The health system concluded that the single variable with the most predictive value was the concentration of Willful Endurers within a five-mile radius of an urgent care facility.
Each psychographic segment requires a different engagement strategy to maximize behavior activation. This includes the marketing (or clinical) proposition and its wording (the WHAT) and the media/channel mix and frequency of engagement (the HOW).
There are specific words and phrases to use (and lose) to appeal to each segment. For example, Priority Jugglers value commitment, dedication, responsibility and sacrifice, while Self Achievers respond well to goals, success, progress and achievement. Direction Takers prefer to see a trusted clinician represented in advertising, but independent Balance Seekers want to see self-sufficiency. Willful Endurers want to know something has immediate benefit and is hassle-free.
Regarding the HOW, it's important to note that a single email on a topic is not sufficient to move the needle and maximize health consumer response. A mix of media/channels with follow-up stands a better chance of catching the targets' attention and activating behaviors. Moreover, certain segments prefer a given channel (e.g., email) while other segments would rather receive messaging from different channels (e.g., text/SMS or automated call).
PatientBond is a Digital Health Platform that personalizes health consumer engagement according to their psychographic profiles. It has seen remarkable results in both marketing and clinical applications. For example, by varying the message and channel mix for patients post-hospital discharge, PatientBond has reduced hospital readmissions up to 90% for Congestive Heart Failure, Atrial Fibrillation and COPD.
However, this article is about increasing healthcare provider revenues, so the remainder of the article will address this opportunity.
Increasing Healthcare Provider Revenues
Healthcare organizations of all types are starting to see how psychographic segmentation can increase revenues. This can be achieved through acquisition of new patients, keeping existing patients coming back, service line marketing and even boosting & accelerating patient financial responsibility payments.
Instead of just talking about the potential application of psychographic segmentation, let's let actual, real world results speak for itself. Some examples listed below offer links to case studies providing further details.
- 5X increase in telehealth registrations among a population of managed Medicaid members
- 40 percent increase in patient loyalty/retention
- Significant increases in Google reviews and 5 Star ratings online
- 200 percent increase in banner ad click-through
- 81 percent increase in patient payments and 67% reduction in write-offs
- 3X increase in primary care appointments*
- 30 percent increase in diabetes appointments*
- 28X ROI on a patient/physician match system driving >70% of new patient acquisition*
* A public case study has not been published on these results but a PatientBond representative can discuss these details.
Accessing Psychographic Insights
It is a major investment to develop a reliable psychographic segmentation model from scratch. The costs include the dollars and hours needed to develop and field a study and analyzing the results, developing a predictive algorithm for prospective segment identification, and projecting the segments across a population of current and/or prospective patients. This can easily run six to seven figures plus months of work. Then the model needs to be tested and validated in the field and proven stable and effective over time.
The alternative is to use a proven psychographic model and insights that are refreshed on a consistent basis. To make it easy for healthcare organizations to benefit from psychographics, PatientBond has developed an online, dashboard-driven Psychographics Marketing Package. This includes the market research data from PatientBond's July 2020 study on health consumer attitudes and behaviors in the era of COVID-19. The data can also be analyzed by demographics, socioeconomics and health condition, in addition or conjunction with the psychographic segments.
The package also includes psychographic segment heatmaps for any geography in the U.S. and the "codebook" to effective segment engagement. It's really the "easy button" to get the data and insights healthcare organizations need to turbocharge their marketing and provide the confidence they need for winning strategies.
Contact PatientBond today to discuss how psychographic segmentation can help your organization thrive.