Editor's Note: This interview was previously published in the January 2020 issue of Healthcare Call Center Times.
ELMHURST, IL – In our March 2016 issue, we carried a story, “Segmentation and How It Could Benefit the Healthcare Call Center Professional.” The story focused on c2b, a Cincinnati-based company that had developed a segmentation system focused on people’s attitudes about their health. The company developed five groups that fit more than 90 percent of the population: Balance Seekers, Willful Endurers, Priority Jugglers, Self Achievers, and Direction Takers. (For descriptions of each of these segments see our prior story). Individuals were classified via the results of a 12-question test.
The hook into the call center world is that representatives and nurses would use different language in their conversations with individuals, depending on the segment classification. This would help in having optimum interactions with patients.
In 2017, the company was acquired by the Elmhurst, Illinois-based PatientBond, a company focused on digital workflows. This has allowed this psychographic system to be applied to digital outreach efforts such as post-discharge communications.
Brent Walker, SVP Marketing & Analytics, says that depending on how these 12 questions are answered can indicate just what ought to be said, and in what frequency, for automated communications to discharged patients. But first, how do the questions indicate what group a particular individual is in?
Walker demonstrates by using one statement from the survey: “I believe alternative/holistic/natural medicines are effective for helping maintain my health and wellbeing.” If the individual says that they strongly agree then they will be either a Balance Seeker or Self Achiever, depending on how they answer the other questions, he says. If they do not agree then most certainly they would fall into the Priority Juggler category.
Individuals can either take this survey upon entrance into the hospital or right before discharge. Then communications can be personally tailored to each discharged patient depending on their group. For example, he says for Balance Seekers, the communication’s introductory words would focus on how answering these questions would help the individual live as healthy as they can. For the Priority Jugglers, that message is focused on how they can get back in the game quickly as they are more concerned about family and job responsibilities. The goal for this group, he says, is to put their mind at ease and communicate that following their post-discharge instructions will help them get better quicker and therefore able to once again get back to their daily responsibilities. However, he cautions, if this message is coming via text then it has to be short, perhaps no more than 140 characters, to grab this group and want them to proceed to read the rest of it.
Self Achievers can be told that answering the initial questions in the post-discharge communication will allow a baseline to be established. This group is interested in progressing – they want to be healthier faster. They are task oriented and eager to tackle challenges aimed at improving their health.
For Direction Takers the message is simple: “Your doctor asked for you to do this,” Walker says. And, for Willful Endurers, the message is also simple – reading and responding to the communications will not take hardly any of their time, he adds.
Outliers can be bumped to a nurse who knows the person’s psychographic category through looking at a dashboard or in their organization’s HER. That way they can frame their conversation with the patient appropriately. Within the PatientBond system there is also messaging for each category in place for nurses to use in response to patients’ objections to anything that is said.
The company recently did some work with a non-profit hospital network that wanted to reduce its 30-day readmission for congestive heart failure from 18.5 percent. In a five month pilot with 315 patients discharged in that time period, there were 14 communications sent over a 30 day period. The communications were sent via email, text message and interactive voice response and were specially tailored to each of the psychographic groups. Patients had taken the questionnaire before discharge and were appropriately grouped.
According to a PatientBond White Paper (“Psychographic Segmentation and Its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change”), communications were “personalized with psychographic insights and included a patient response mechanism (e.g., short survey) to gauge recovery.”
Call center nurses received text messages and email alerts for outliers as well as a red light on the dashboard. They could then follow-up with these patients. The results, according to the White Paper: 90 percent reduction in 30 days all-cause readmissions (from 18.5 percent to less than 2 percent), 62 percent patient response to all 14 waves of communications, and 94 percent of patients 65 and older liked the electronic discharge process and digital communications.
In another program, the company is working with a large hospital chain that wanted to reduce its number of frequent flyers to its emergency rooms. It had a call center in place whose directive was to contact these individuals to help them establish relationships with primary care doctors in their network. “From our research, we know that it is Willful Endurers who make up this group,” he says. People in this group want their health needs taken care of right now, he adds.
So, the twist was to have the call center representatives use phone scripts that would especially appeal to Willful Endurers in order to successfully make these physician relationships happen. Walker says that doing this has led to a 50 percent increase in referrals.