By Elise Mariner,
Director of Client Services

Elise-Mariner-e1455057407422It’s hard to read about healthcare today without bumping into a product, service or initiative that is trying to drive consumer or patient behavior change. From the most acute settings focused on reducing readmissions to employers focused on incentivizing wellness – as the transition from volume to value continues – behavior change is the holy grail of transforming our healthcare system and curbing our nation’s healthcare costs.

Healthcare is in some ways finally catching up with what other industries have known and focused on for years: identifying the right customers and driving desired behavior among them is the key to success. In the traditional business environment, this ‘success’ is defined in sales growth, monthly users, click-through rates, or any other number of traditional industry metrics. In healthcare, the tactics needed are the same, but the metrics we’re driving towards are significantly more complex, and the behavior we’re trying to change is significantly more challenging to understand and affect.

At NextHealth, we’ve found that behavior change requires three steps: Who, What, and How Well.

Who: Identify the most appropriate target audience for the behavior you’re trying to change – is their behavior avoidable and impactable?
What: Define and execute the best outreach strategy based on the unique attributes of the target audience
How Well: Measure the impact of your particular initiative, controlling for other factors so that you can prove causality of your actions
Many healthcare organizations have expertise in the Who, the What and the How Well, but they may be siloed across different departments:

Who: Population Health and Analytics Departments: Many organizations have created Population Health departments that are focused on identifying target groups that are high risk or high cost. These departments often have strong analytic, predictive and clinical capabilities and are highly equipped to find the “Who” and to determine the right key performance indicators (KPI’s) to change. Often though, they are also tasked with developing outreach campaigns to drive these target groups to change their behaviors but lack the expertise to utilize proven methods for driving behavior change.

What: Marketing Departments: The traditional expertise in driving consumer behavior change usually lies in the marketing department. This is also true within healthcare organizations that have long tasked their marketing departments with member outreach and engagement to utilize existing tools better, take advantage of their benefits, or maintain enrollment from year to year. Within most marketing departments lies expertise in content creation, appropriate language and wording, sophisticated tracking techniques, and in some more advanced organizations – A/B testing and behavioral economics to incorporate the science of behavior change into messaging. These departments are often focused on different metrics than the population health departments but end up overlapping with many of the same members or patients.

How Well: Everyone and No One: While Population Health and Marketing respectively work on their initiatives and try to track their results, executives are monitoring the impacts. However, limitations in the accuracy of how outcomes are measured combined with the siloed nature of the work means that even when the desired results are achieved, it’s often impossible to know exactly which initiative caused the desired effect. This also creates an information gap in knowing how to invest in and optimize desired impacts moving forward. In a world of shrinking reimbursements, this becomes incredibly challenging for executives to make informed decisions about resource allocation to drive outcomes.

At NextHealth Technologies, we have developed a secure, cloud-based platform and managed service offering that delivers the Who, the What and the How Well in one place, resulting in a powerful, collaborative tool and turn-key results for our clients. When working with our clients we:

  • Build collaborative teams that include Population Health, Analytics and Marketing to ensure we’re capturing and maximizing cross-functional knowledge and expertise
  • Utilize the platform to identify target populations and assign them to outreach campaigns designed to drive impact on use case KPI’s
  • Design, create and deliver effective campaign content using advanced and proven consumer behavior change techniques
  • Utilize randomized controlled groups to show causality of which outreach campaigns are causing the behavior change we wish to see
  • Utilize the platform’s machine learning capabilities to optimize what’s working through smart resource allocation and turn off what isn’t working

For executives, this becomes a powerful decision-making tool based on causal and precisely measured outcomes, and it allows for targeted allocation of limited resources to important initiatives.

Integrating the Who, the What and the How Well to drive consumer behavior change in healthcare is a strategic imperative for all healthcare organizations in the transition from volume to value. At NextHealth Technologies, our clients are seeing this imperative become a reality.

To schedule a demo of the platform or to learn how NextHealth can help drive consumer behavior change in your organization, please contact us.