The three enablers that maximize patient engagement value

This increase in consumer interest and purchasing power presents tremendous business opportunities, as spending on personal wellness rebounded after stagnating or even declining during the COVID-19 crisis. As the wellness market gets increasingly competitive, healthcare companies must consider patient engagement as the essential component of strategic growth.

Some of the most widely used terms are poorly understood. Take the term patient engagement. It is healthcare’s raison d’être, and Healthcare’s fundamental purpose is to engage with patients to deliver the best care outcomes. But patient engagement has become more of a window dressing than the actual goods, and many health-related disciplines cite it without living it.

Consumers have turned savvy. They want to establish their health-management ecosystems and be their own health guardians. They are particular about where they receive care, from whom they receive it, and what it will cost them. According to McKinsey & Company, consumers are increasingly interested in wellness, with 79 percent of respondents in six countries saying health is essential, while 42 percent consider it a priority.

It puts healthcare providers squarely in the patient engagement arena.

The growing consumer interest in wellness has seen the technology, telecom, and consumer sectors trucking with the healthcare industry, investing significantly in innovations, and launching new companies. $44 billion was raised in 2021 – twice the sum in 2020 – through 50 percent acquisitions of medical technology and health services companies.

According to McKinsey, global wellness is estimated to be worth more than $1.5 trillion, with a five to 10 percent annual growth rate. This increase in consumer interest and purchasing power presents tremendous business opportunities, as spending on personal wellness rebounded after stagnating or even declining during the COVID-19 crisis. As the wellness market gets increasingly competitive, healthcare companies must consider patient engagement as the essential component of strategic growth.

To date, efforts have rarely yielded the desired results. However, patient engagement across the care continuum remains non-negotiable, and the capabilities that will enhance its impact (e.g., data, advanced analytics, digital solutions) continue to advance.

Patients’ care journeys are no longer generic; they are personalized. The age of data mapping has been a significant contributor to this personalization. Electronic Health Records (EHR) are at the heart of the healthcare transformation and offer highly effective patient engagement opportunities.

This post offers a perspective on how healthcare companies can engage with patients to improve the value of their services.

Eye-opening case study

Allina Health, a healthcare provider, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US, owns and operates 12 hospitals and more than 90 clinics in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. It has an annual revenue of around $4.7 billion.

It used data to identify variations in the shared decision-making process in its hospitals and clinics. Analytics showed clinicians and providers weren’t implementing strategies effectively and were missing key opportunities to improve patient engagement.

As a result, Allina’s leaders revised decision-making processes and updated workflows. Through data analysis, Allina identified areas where they could improve and succeed. They implemented the changes as part of a pilot program overseen by a group of diverse clinical leaders. Seven hundred and forty-nine patients participated in the shared decision-making conversations across the system, and the responses were standardized and optimized to result in better patient engagement.

The three enablers for maximizing patient engagement:

  1. Data science and advanced analytics.
  2. Behavioral economics.
  3. Personalization and patient engagement.

These B2C capabilities have provided high-value personalized customer experiences in other sectors, and they can do the same in healthcare, but most healthcare organizations do not possess them.

Data science and advanced analytics

Why this unbridled admiration for data? Because it holds the clues to a patient’s outlook, habits, requirements, wants, and disease pattern. Analyzing patient data is like striking gold, and it’s the most reliable ally for doctors and hospitals in the patient care journey. Advanced analytics identify vital traits and similarities between patients and offer granular information that helps doctors initiate actionable solutions. This data tracks patient behavior and compares it to other patterns in similar situations, presenting a road map to answers.

Advanced analytics gathers information from websites, contact centers, third parties like consumer and clinical data, and information about social determinants of health to draw from comprehensive data.

Behavioral economics

This branch of economics and social sciences offers penetrating views on consumer behavior and its underlying causes. We can understand human behavior through behavioral economics, which maps predictable paths in unpredictability.

It highlights how consumers make healthy, sustainable, and cost-effective choices. It is a fantastic tool for healthcare providers.

Studies show behavioral economic incentives can promote healthy behaviors, such as quitting smoking and losing weight. Integrating these findings with clinical approaches to perfect patient engagement is a golden opportunity. Nothing is more personalized than taking a patient’s inner world into account and creating a doctor-provider bond based on empathy. Hard, cold data inspires warm and enduring patient care approaches, one of technology’s more mysterious aspects.

So, how richly are healthcare providers mining data?

Personalization and patient engagement

Consumer engagement is the core competency of a B2C company, and healthcare is no exception. Through advanced analytics, companies can understand customers’ needs deeply, develop products and services that satisfy those needs, and engage consumers via digital marketing.

They must use communication as a breakthrough tool to quickly provide relevant, personalized recommendations, especially when consumers are shopping. For example, when a patient visits a provider’s website, they are more likely to respond to messages aimed at them immediately rather than a delayed but accurate response.

According to McKinsey research, healthcare consumers want to make informed choices about their care and expect digital to be a core part of that engagement. For all significant aspects of their healthcare journey, around 70 percent of respondents preferred digital solutions to phone or in-person keys. Healthcare providers can take their cue from other sectors using personalization techniques to provide better patient support.

Patients leave unmistakable signals of their healthcare needs through visits to a physician, opting for procedures, website use, telehealth, inquiries, and treatments. It is a clear trail of footprints that leads to enhanced personalized engagement. Healthcare providers must react quickly to these signals in three ways: provide an insight/solution, send a message, and use the right channel.

Each patient must receive specific information such as details of a procedure, recent developments, specialists and their credibility, relevant case studies, and cost estimates. They must also be informed about wait time estimates, comparison of procedures and risks, recovery time comparison, side effects, and other solutions such as telemedicine or appointment scheduling.

Choosing the right channel or channels is critical – email, text messages, reminder alerts, outbound phone calls from a nurse, etc. As part of the innovative digital channel strategies, engagement through text and web applications, humanized chat assistants backed by AI, phone scripts, conversations based on NLP, and analysis of sentiments are among the standard tools. When choosing a channel(s), the provider must always factor in the expected return on investment.

What's the next step?

Healthcare providers must shift from the traditional modus operandi, where they defined patient engagement, to today’s imperative, where the patients define the breadth and depth of engagement.

They must tailor their responses to patients’ signals. All this means one big ask: communication and narrative building with patients. In other words, how good is their content in promoting patient interest?

Healthcare providers must kickstart the new approach with a hybrid working model: empower a small, cross-functional group with the right capabilities and skill sets within the organization and hire a full-service agency to create strategic content. Many healthcare providers have tried to achieve it on their own and failed.

We possess domain expertise in the healthcare industry and have built a solid relationship of content building and strategic inputs with many of them. We can help you with patient persona development, building personalized marketing strategies, and strategic content creation. To learn more, visit our website.

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