The increasingly digital world allows for increasingly personalized tactics for engaging consumers—whether they are potential retail customers or healthcare patients. The mountains of data available offer transformative potential when organizations unearth meaningful insights into individual customers’ needs and expectations.
As your hospital or healthcare organization works to connect with modern healthcare consumers to drive better health outcomes, you can learn from leading customer-centric organizations—regardless of the industry and consumers that they serve—to pinpoint the types of health data insights you should be collecting about your patients.
Data about What Your Patients Are Doing
As interoperability continues to improve, so too does your ability to share important patient data related to care events. “With event-based notifications, organizations deliver essential information to the right hands at the right time to support care coordination and patient outcomes,” Healthcare IT News wrote several years ago.
New research supports this theory. HIT Consultant notes that the 2018 Trends in Clinical Communications & Collaboration study found that 90 percent of hospitals surveyed are investing in communications platforms that can “... address the mission- and patient-critical communications requirements of clinical and non-clinical mobile workers within the hospital and across the care continuum.”
The study concludes that to achieve the Triple Aim of reduced healthcare costs, improved care quality and outcomes and higher patient satisfaction, hospitals should look for clinical communications platforms that offer five key features:
- Cross-platform support to allow "anytime, anywhere communications"
- Multiple communications channels aligned to both clinicians’ and healthcare consumers’ needs
- Integrated directories to facilitate seamless communications
- Event-driven communications for just-in-time awareness
- Analytics and reporting tools for measuring usage and effectiveness
When healthcare providers efficiently coordinate with each other with real-time notifications about changes in patient status, specialist care, ER visits, hospital admissions and discharges, it empowers providers across the continuum of care to improve both care quality and patient outcomes. Real-time, event-based notifications can also prompt best practices for specific situations.
Hancock Regional Hospital in Indiana, acknowledged as a Health and Hospitals Networks “Most Wired” hospitals in 2016 and 2017, uses real-time notifications to prompt medication recommendations when a baby is born prematurely or a when a heart patient is discharged. Given the push towards quality, value-based care, and incentives—and penalties—around readmission rates, the use of event-based notifications offers the potential of financial advantages as well.
In another example, the PatientBond platform for automating two-way patient communications (emails, texts, Interactive Voice Response) also messages providers in real time if there are any patient issues to address. PatientBond is currently working with a prestigious New England hospital system to reduce readmissions following a form of spine surgery.
The platform sends patients two waves of pre-surgery prep education and seven waves of post-discharge education with patient response mechanisms built in. Patients are asked to respond to short surveys with questions designed to monitor their recovery — e.g., “Are you feeling pain today?” If a patient answers in a way that indicated he or she is not recovering well, an email and text is immediately sent to a nurse for follow-up.
After a seven-month pilot, 85 percent of patients responded to these communications and readmissions for this surgery were reduced to below 1 percent.
But, clinical data isn’t the only source for valuable insights for improving health outcomes. Harvard Business Review writes, “The dependence on this limited data set originates in the system’s orientation toward ‘sick care’ — treating illness. To radically improve health care, we need to apply consumer demographic and lifestyle data in ways that help the healthcare industry shift its focus from providing sick care to partnering with people (rather than ‘patients’) to help them stay well.”
Data about How Your Patients Prefer to Communicate
Customer-centric brands that win favor with consumers allow them to set their own preferences. For example, Amazon has a Communications Preferences Center where customers can come—whenever they want—to specify whether they want to receive promotional emails and indicate which specific shopping departments are of interest. This ensures that the communications stay relevant rather than annoying.
Healthcare providers can give engagement a boost by adjusting how they communicate with patients based on specific preferences—whether through patient portals, by phone or via secure email or text messaging.
And this isn’t just related to direct communications between providers and patients. Hospitals also need insights about patients’ trusted sources for gathering information about a range of issues, including symptoms, diagnoses, individual medical professionals, or hospitals. Is one patient more likely to look on social media for recommendations for a doctor while another one goes directly to a hospital website? Does a patient google symptoms or use an app like WebMD?
“We turn to our phones with intent and expect brands to deliver immediate answers. It's in these I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, I-want-to-buy moments that decisions are made and preferences are shaped”
Data about What Motivates Your Patients
Inspiring actions demands insights into what motivates individuals. In the customer-centric marketing world, these insights can be tied to data about distinct moments. “We turn to our phones with intent and expect brands to deliver immediate answers. It's in these I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, I-want-to-buy moments that decisions are made and preferences are shaped,” says ThinkWithGoogle.
In the healthcare arena, healthcare consumers bring deeply-held beliefs about health and wellness that color their expectations and engagement. By understanding what makes patients tick, you gain the health data insights needed to craft strategies that resonate with patients more effectively. This approach is paying dividends for TriHealth Corporate Health in Cincinnati, as we mentioned in a previous blog.
Achieving the Right Combination of Health Data Insights
Hospitals and other healthcare providers already have some data in electronic health records (EHRs), clinical or financial systems. Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) also offer critical data. For internal event-based notifications, that’s exactly what you need—along with rules and processes that ensure the notification system complements your workflow and sends alerts on a schedule that informs, rather than inundates, medical staff.
But you also need data from outside sources to better understand your patients. Consumer diagnostic data, coupled with psychographic segmentation, helps you classify healthcare consumers based on their motivations and preferences so that you can customize communications—both messages and delivery channels—to enhance patient engagement and improve health outcomes.
As Harvard Business Review explains, “Failing to take consumer data into account is to ignore the most powerful change-agents in healthcare—consumers themselves. Clinical data and expertise are vital, but the only way the healthcare industry will fundamentally improve care is to understand consumers at an individual level–by leveraging information about every aspect of their lives—to create personalized interventions that ultimately drive behavior change and improve outcomes.” What’s missing from your current health data insights?