Sunday, August 4, 2013

Are patient adherence & engagement two sides of the same experience coin?

It has been a most interesting year of change for healthcare in 2013 in anticipation of ACA 2014.  Medical Homes, ACOs, patient- centered care, risk-base payment models, a growing understanding of the importance of healthcare marketing and branding and talk about patient adherence and engagement.  But, none of this will be successful unless you have a patient that is adherent and engaged. It’s really two sides of the same coin that is based on their experience with you the provider.

It think adherence starts first with experience that leads to leads to an adherent and engaged patient. As you view the landscape wondering how you will reduce cost, improve the health of populations, you have to focus on how you will begin to engage in a logically defined measureable process, along the dimensions of experience, adherence and engagement.  And it's not just wellness programs, seminars, community events or material copied on bright neon paper. It takes strategy, commitment and learning.

Here are seven strategies you need to employ to create the adherent and engaged healthcare consumer:

 1. Integrate your engagement solutions. That means information is delivered seamlessly to patients, so that they can interact with you any way they want, when they want too. 

2.  Marketing should be using both push and pull messaging.  Messaging needs to be relevant to the patient at the point in time that they need it as well as personalized, customized, accounting for the cultural heritage and societal influences tailored to them.

3. Start to understand how to being the techniques of gamification to your experience, adherence and engagement programs.  Patient incentives and motivational techniques will be needed to keep patient engaged. That doesn't mean cash. Look to the gaming industry for gaming technology and gaming prediction, for ways to engage without cash. Be creative.  Look outside healthcare for ideas, tools and techniques to engage.  After all, patients are people too.

4. Create a sense of community.  You have to compete for patients, keep them in network and keep them healthy.   You have to get into the inner circle of your audiences and become the trusted advisor. It's not just about loyalty. You need to shape patient behaviors to the point where they will recommend you.

5. Know your audience and with whom you are speaking too. This is really back-to-basics CRM understanding and understanding all the dimensions- gender, age, integration of risk assessments, culture, etc.  You cannot engage the patient unless you are intimately knowledgeable about them, their needs, and how to tailor the information they need to engage them.

6. Know the influence of the patient’s culture on behavior to engage them. You need to know who the individual is culturally, their affinity groups, and religious beliefs to name just a few items, beyond gender and age.

7. Time it right and add value.  If you health messaging is not resonating with the patient when they receive it, then you have lost them. Communicate relevant messages to a committed patient right before healthcare decisions are made. That means knowing the patient like you have never known them in the past. For example, a patient or healthcare consumer, going to a restaurant to eat, or a supermarket to purchase groceries, means sending them health messages at that time, in order to enable them to make the right food choices.  It's not impossible. Think of the Foursquare app.
 
You are moving patients from passive healthcare participants to active healthcare participants.

That's why you engage with experience to increase adherence.

Michael J. Krivich, MHA, FACHE, PCM, is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 5,000 monthly pages views read in over 52 countries worldwide on Healthcare Marketing Matters. These views are my own. He is founder of the michael J group, a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Like us on  facebook at the michael J group, and connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pheed

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