Patients who were more knowledgeable, skilled and confident about managing their day-to-day health and health care had health care costs that were 8 percent lower in the base year and 21 percent lower in the next year compared to patients who lacked this type of confidence and skill. These savings held true even after adjusting for patient differences, such as demographic factors and the severity of illnesses. In short empowered and engaged patients are better for healthcare but how do we engage patients ?
Even among patients with the same chronic illness, those who were more “activated” had lower overall health care costs than patients who were less so. Among asthma patients, the least activated patients had costs that were 21 percent higher than the most activated patients. With high blood pressure, the cost differential was 14 percent. That is significant in my opion.
This data is exciting but the approaches on engaging patients is as complex as human behavior. What I have seen over time is that older patients from the “greatest generation” tend to “give up” when they have a lot of chronic health problems because their health problems take away from the quality of life. However Baby Boomers are different.
Boomers who are turning 65 in record numbers everyday take their doctors advice but research their healthcare treatment options. This is an opportunity for healthcare marketers but we cannot and should not continue with the old healthcare marketing model that is on life support.
What does it take to engage patients today ?
(1) Transparency and truth – Tell them the positives and negatives of your treatment but tell them in real world terms. Inform them, for example, that not taking a statin could lead to heart problems or staying away from the doctor could lead to a loss in the quality of life.
(2) Give them user friendly tools and information – Don’t develop an interactive app or tool without testing it to ensure it provides real value in the real world.
(3) Build the healthcare relationship – There are a lot of people coming to your website so why not allow them to get helpful and useful information via a customized CRM program ?
The healthcare legislation and higher insurance premiums all but guarantee that more people will be going online for healthcare information. What are you doing to engage them ?