If It’s Not Personalized, It's Just Noise: 10 tips to personalize healthcare

By Michelle Snyder

“A wealth of information leads to a poverty of attention,” was coined in 1971 by Nobel Prize winner and psychologist, Dr. Herbert Simon. Forty-six years later, this statement holds more weight than ever for healthcare consumers.

Consumers’ senses are bombarded with constant communication from brands, their employers, health plans, friends and family members. When this happens, the only way for the brain to make sense of this frequent and ongoing stimulus overload is to filter out what isn’t meaningful so they can focus on what is perceived as relevant.

Nearly 67% of consumers feel overwhelmed by the volume of communications they receive from brands. It is, thus, no surprise that it is difficult to engage consumers and that most are responding by cutting brands off completely through ad blocker technology and by unsubscribing.

To drive engagement that gets consumers excited, motivated and activated in their health, companies must personalize the experience – from start to finish. Personalization is all about creating an experience that will resonate with your target individuals, based on who they are and where they are in their health journey. The number one piece of advice I give to any organization seeking to increase their consumer health engagement rates is if it’s not personalized, it's just noise.

To help your organization get on the path to personalization, here are 10 top strategies and tips that have worked with employers and health systems across the country. These key engagement practices are built on more than 15 years of behavioral science and consumer experience, best practices, insights and more than one billion communications interactions.
 
1. Use Big Data to Get the Big Picture

Predicting health behavior based only on clinical or claims data will only get you so far. The most predictive data about someone comes from outside of healthcare – shopping patterns, voting records, employment, demographics, etc. Leverage relevant, up-to-date consumer data from non-healthcare sources to easily predict and respond to an individual’s change in health status in a more informed and measured way.
 
2. Understand the End-to-End Experience

Avoid communications fatigue by auditing your outreach and touch-points across the organization. By understanding the outreach data across all departments, you can identify individuals who are receiving too many communications or communications at the wrong time where they won’t have their intended effect.
 
3. Make it Multi-Channel

Break out of the single mode of communication. An outreach strategy that encompasses a variety of communication channels can provide cost-effective ways to engaging consumers. Some people will only respond to email, but for short messages with a regular cadence, SMS text is a great choice. And though we live in digital age, you will be surprised to see that automated voice works the best for some individuals.
 
4. Capture and Honor Preferences

We all have individual preferences on what information we want, when we want it and how we want to receive it. Capture preferences and opt-ins in the same outreach campaign to ensure you can act on, and perhaps more important – make sure you honor the preferences you have captured.
 
5. Make Health Literacy a Focus

A significant gap exists between the way healthcare information is communicated and how people understand it. Communications should be at a fifth or sixth grade reading level to enable consumers to obtain, process and understand their health information.
 
6. Break Barriers to Optimal Health

When a consumer says “no,” ask them “why not?” It is a terrific way to start better understanding the barriers in your population. You can only overcome barriers if you identify them.
 
7. Don’t Underestimate a Second Chance

By asking the question “are you sure you still want to say no?” you have the opportunity to convert up to 30% of those initial “no’s” into “yes’s.” As you design your outreach, take advantage of the powerful tools that behavioral science has to offer—nudges, social norm messaging, active choice and other core principles.
 
8. Reward What Needs Rewarding

Don’t give rewards for actions most people will complete regardless, such as annual enrollment. Instead, make that an action (what we call a gateway action) that individuals must complete to be eligible for rewards in the future.
 
9. Create a Single Destination

Integrate all of your programs, resources, and rewards in one place so you can offer personalized guidance at the individual level creating a much better user experience. 
 
10. Learn and Optimize Using AI

Machine learning and AI have tremendous potential in healthcare beyond just analyzing clinical information. By leveraging technology to continuously learn from what people say and actually do regarding their health, and then adjusting recommendations based on those learnings, you can more effectively bring the right resources to individuals at the right time.

It is possible to get consumers engaged with their health, but only if the healthcare industry evolves and treats people like consumers – not employees, members or patients. By leveraging advances in big data and information technology to make healthcare truly personal, real impact is truly possible too.

For further insight on helping your organization get on the path to personalization, download our guide, Let's Get Personal: 10 Strategies for Health Plans to Achieve Personalization in Healthcare.

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Original article appeared on HR.com 
on 4/24/2018.