Cracking the Code of Patient Engagement in a Digital World

“Patient engagement” is a huge buzzword these days.  It’s being driven by a number of things:

•Getting patients involved with their own healthcare through accessing their medical records, obtaining insurance, mostly driven by government health initiatives, namely the ACA

•An explosion of tools and services designed to help patients research, measure their health, and take action depending on those conditions.

Despite its importance, people are struggling with figuring out how to get patients engaged. The Health IT highway is littered with companies who have come and gone, all with laudable goals of helping people to better manage their health (e.g. weight, diabetes, heart health, etc.), but failed to reach sustainability in their business.

Seems nobody has cracked the code on patient engagement. Here’s my take…

One size does not fit all – People are different and are motivated by different things on many fronts including their health. Hitting the right chord to engage patients requires variety in approach

Messages – some people respond to the benefits while others are motivated by consequences

Learning Principles – some people respond to more to narrative text, while others respond to videos or images

Motivators – Competition, rewards, coaching – just to name a few.

What the healthcare ecosystem is now finding out is something we marketers have known for a long time – you have to know your ‘customer’, segment, and then deliver the right message/tool at the right time.

And, lastly, but perhaps most importantly – don’t forget about the clinician.  Despite the ubiquity of the Internet and electronic tools, people still say that their number one source for trusted health information is their clinician.  The Pew Research Center recently conducted a national survey on the topic of where people turn to for reliable health information finds that seven-in-ten (72%) adult internet users say they have searched online for information about a range of health issues, the most popular being specific diseases and treatments. One-in-four (26%) adult internet users say they have read or watched someone else’s health experience about health or medical issues in the past 12 months. And 16% of adult internet users in the U.S. have gone online in the past 12 months to find others who share the same health concerns – but – clinicians are still the top source of health information in the U.S.

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