7 Best Practices of Data-Driven Personalization

By Kathleen Ellmore

The notion of “health” is a very personal thing. Each of us view health a little differently – we’re all in different places in our healthcare journeys and what motivates us to be healthier, and what may hinder our progress, can be radically different from person to person. This brings us to the importance of personalization in healthcare. We must meet consumers wherever they are to motivate them to take charge of their health. Personalization should play an integral part in the approach to create resonance and relevance. Use data to know what individuals need and how to deliver a specific message about their needs through their preferred communication channels.

So, how do you get to a data-driven personalization strategy? Last week, I sat down with two of my colleagues, April Gill and David Veroff, to explore this question during our Data-Driven Personalization webinar. During this session we compiled a list of best practices to help you on the path to personalization:

Best Practice #1: Prioritize Your Engagement Efforts

Value drivers vary depending on what market you’re in and what business challenges you’re trying to solve. It is safe to say though that the value of retention is high for 99.9% of us. When you put your efforts behind keeping members and engaging them, you can create significant financial impacts for your organization. Engaging just 10% more members can produce $134 million in medical and administrative cost reduction and new revenue. Be rigorous and analytical when it comes to your engagement efforts and you can achieve similar results.

Best Practice #2: Identify Risk or Need

Knowing clinical risk at an individual level is critical to your personalization strategies. Utilize all the information you have – whether it be purchased or collected over time – and you can successfully predict an individual’s likelihood to be at risk for specific conditions or needs. You can even predict risk without claims information. One of our customers leveraged existing consumer data – no claims history was available – to identify and target individuals at high-risk for hospital admissions and garnered $1.5 million in cost savings.

Best Practice #3: Predict Impactability

Data stratification can show you individuals who are 1) at risk and 2) likely to be impacted by intervention. Focus first on individuals with the highest level of need and opportunity for impact and start your outreach with the least costly method. Work out from there. This approach will drive engagement rates up while lowering overall costs. In fact, one health plan customer was successful in improving engagement by 5% and decreasing the cost per impacted member by 36%.

Best Practice #4: Assess Best Communication Channels

There are several ways you can determine the right communication channel(s). Step one is to go to the source and simply ask your consumers what they prefer. Next, look at how they have interacted with you in the past. Then, you should also evaluate the channels that make the most sense for the types of communications you’re sending. For instance, a Medicaid customer with a diabetes management program found that issuing short bursts of communications, on an established cadence, was most effective through text messaging. Eighty percent of members received the messages and remained enrolled throughout the 52-week program. 

Best Practice #5: Personalize to the Individual

Personalization is more than just “Dear [FIRST NAME],” at the top of a letter. It’s about knowing what is important to that individual and tailoring your messaging to them. A commercial health plan was looking to close gaps in care by sending screening reminders to a diabetic population. The initial outreach produced a 20.7% lift in screenings. But here’s where it gets interesting – when they returned to the non-responders a few months later, they didn’t expect much, if any, lift. They adjusted their strategy by customizing the communications to speak directly to the member and cite exactly what screening he/she needed. The result? A 28.1% lift! All they did differently was use existing data to address their members as individuals.

Best Practice #6: Use Relevant Incentives

There are many incentive options and the good news is that it doesn’t always take a lot to motivate consumers to act. The trick is to get consumers to take the right action in the timeframe you need. To accomplish this, use incentives that are tailored to the audience and the action to nudge people toward your goal. Health Risk Assessments (HRAs) and biometric screenings are important health status indicators for many of our customers. To encourage participation, one employer instituted monthly premium reductions as a carrot. The result was a completion rate of 81% among registered users!

Best Practice #7: Measure, Test and Learn

Analytics are a must throughout your engagement cycle. Before you begin any engagement program, be sure you have clearly stated objectives and know how you will define and measure success. You may even want to look at a series of measures to determine the impact your programs had on behavior change. As you move forward, isolate variables for analysis to understand the impact each has. Use control groups to identify how changes in messaging, channel or frequency can affect engagement and leverage A/B testing to get deeper consumer insights. Engagement should be done on a continuous improvement basis. Never stop measuring, testing and learning.

Now What?

Yes, it is a daunting task to get consumers to make the right choices about their health and healthcare, but it is possible through personalization. As these best practices show, it requires data, diligence and determination to ensure that we are putting the consumer and their unique needs first. All things you can do! 

Webinar Replay 

Watch a full replay of the webinar below to get additional case studies and best practices. If you want to talk about applying data-driven personalization to your engagement strategy - drop us a line.