Communicating with healthcare consumers to improve outcomes and save money
Communicating with your audience is challenging even on the best day. Consumers either drink from a fire hose of media or filter it down to a tiny drip. When the goal of communication is to change healthcare behaviors to improve outcomes and reduce healthcare costs, finding a way through those barriers becomes mission critical. It can be done, but you have to employ practical communication and a laser focused, data based strategy.
There’s a lot on the line. Americans spend $4.3 trillion dollars on healthcare annually. That’s $12,914 per U.S. resident, the majority of it spent on hospital care*. It’s an unsustainable, skyrocketing situation that is driving healthcare providers and insurance plans to motivate patients to wellness in order to reduce consumption and costs. That means engaging them in education and that means reaching them somehow, with effective communication.
Engagys is at the center of trying to solve that Rubik’s cube. They are a national healthcare consumer engagement consulting and advisory services firm that helps corporations engage their consumer base and nudge them toward healthier behaviors. Holdcom Marketing Triage interviewed Kathleen Ellmore, Cofounder and Managing Partner of Engagys and asked her how communications can drive consumer behavior for better outcomes.
“It takes an evidence based approach that assesses data and uses it to figure out how to get the consumer’s attention as the first step in the strategy”, she said. “You need to engage the individual before you can even begin to communicate with them, and that communication has to be relevant and resonate in the context of their everyday lives.”
First, the nuts and bolts
To achieve this, Kathleen and her firm approach the complicated communications equation with an “above and below the waterline” assessment. It’s a discovery of whether the nuts and bolts are in place to effectively communicate with engaged and disengaged consumers, and drive behavior change.
Above the waterline:
- Do you have the behavioral science data to determine what your consumers are doing, reading, and how they are living now?
- Have you identified the social determinants of health that impact their ability to change healthcare behaviors, like transportation, food scarcity, access to healthcare, etc.?
- Do you have messaging in place that can be used for AB testing?
- Do you know your channel mix? Where are you going to place the messaging and is that based on the data you have?
Below the waterline:
- Do you have the people you need to craft and place messages effectively?
- Do you have the right process in place to create and maintain the messaging?
- Do you have the technology to make all this happen?
Is your communication practical?
You don’t hear the word “practical” very much, but it’s the lynch pin of reaching the consumer. In other words, are you taking a practical approach to any given communication campaign? According to Kathleen, practicality requires asking questions that provide essential insights:
- Do I understand where my audience is – figuratively and literally speaking?
- What is their social-demographic profile?
- Do I know where they live and work?
- Can I estimate their level of health literacy?
- Do I know if they can be compliant, even if they read the communication?
- What are the barriers to that compliance?
- It’s one thing to try to educate a consumer about diabetes control, but it’s not going to be effective if s/he doesn’t have access to healthy food.
Reaching consumers will always be challenging. Now it’s essential. As you review the how and what to communicate to engage your customers and patients, consider what content you have accessed and what remains to be optimized for various channels. We know there is always more content than you can get to. We can help. We triage content – mining it from inside your organization, organizing, and producing it. are part of that solution. We offer content generation, written by healthcare insiders, that expands your bandwidth and gets work done.