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July 19, 2023

Expert Q&A: What is Psychographic Segmentation & How Can It Help Drive Patient Engagement?

by Susan Lawson-Dawson | Healthcare Technology, Prior Authorization

We recently connected with Brent Walker, Senior Vice President of Consumer Science and Psychographics at UpFront to discuss value-based care (VBC) and how improving patient engagement and automating  prior authorizations can create momentum for the shift away from fee-for-service models.  Let’s dig into what Brent had to say. 

Turning B-to-C experience into a patient engagement solution

Brent previously held the role of SVP, Marketing, but psychographics are in his DNA. He began his decades-long career within healthcare when he joined Procter & Gamble (P&G) after college. Assigned to a brand management role for P&G’s over-the-counter (OTC) healthcare business, Brent quickly realized he needed to understand the psychology of consumers. 

“Not only do you need the articulated needs and perceptions of shoppers. You need insights into unarticulated needs and perceptions so you can understand what will motivate them,”  Brent notes.  Within a year, he moved over to the pharma side of the business. Exploring psychographics and using them to further segment consumers allowed P&G to fine-tune its marketing strategies to both attract AND motivate consumers. 

After a 20-year career at P&G,  Brent recognized that psychographic segmentation of healthcare consumers could provide valuable insights to drive medication adherence and more.  And the timing was right. Just two years after passage of the Affordable Care Act—with healthcare reform front-and-center—Brent and a partner started c2b Solutions. 

With a proprietary psychographic segmentation model and thorough market research as its foundation, the company began delivering crucial insights to healthcare organizations regarding the needs, wants, attitudes, and motivations of healthcare consumers. Of course, Brent admits that two entrepreneurs needed a way to scale up quickly. Partnering with a digital patient engagement solution made it possible. Ten years and two acquisitions later, Brent is a recognized expert in the field of healthcare consumer psychographics and patient activation and engagement. 

One-size-fits-all falls short for patient engagement

As we move toward value-based care, one sticking point has always been that if patients don’t adhere with their treatment plans or medications, health outcomes—and therefore, reimbursements—suffer. But healthcare consumers come to the table with very different attitudes and motivations. That’s one reason why medication adherence remains so low. 

Earlier this year, for example, Patient Engagement HIT noted that “Medication adherence is crucial to chronic disease management. Patients who consistently take their medications as prescribed are more likely to experience good outcomes and avoid costly acute care episodes.”  Citing data in JAMA Network Open, the article pointed out that 20% of adults with diabetes were non-compliant with glucose-lowering medications. Furthermore, 43% of patients were inconsistent with taking medications to lower cholesterol. 

Psychographic segmentation changes the game. Instead of using a generic approach when communicating with patients, you can customize communications based on the specific attributes of these segments. 

What exactly are these psychographic segments? There are five in total, each with different approaches to healthcare and optimal engagement strategies. 

  • Self Achievers
  • Balance Seekers
  • Priority Jugglers
  • Trustful Responders
  • Willful Endurers

By understanding the motivations and behaviors of different healthcare consumer types, organizations can tailor their strategies to effectively engage patients. For example, to get through to Priority Jugglers, you can appeal to their sense of responsibility. Willful Endurers, however, need a different approach, since they’re quite happy to live in the moment and avoid any disruption to their routine. 

Engaged patients lead to better health outcomes (and VBC that works) 

Psychographics, coupled with applied behavioral science, can transform patient engagement. While psychographics remains a relatively new concept in the healthcare industry, Brent notes the increasing interest in the field. 

One reason: Traditional healthcare providers are vulnerable to non-traditional players like Amazon, Google, and Walmart, who possess significant capital and consumer-centric methodologies. Brent says, “Even Dollar General is playing in the healthcare space right now, which is very interesting. So you’ve got all these hospitals, health systems, medical groups, even insurers that lack the consumer methodology and endless capital that these non-traditionals have. Traditional healthcare providers are vulnerable and losing market share.” 

Another reason—and a topic that Brent is passionate about—is the industry’s move toward value-based care. “As it gains a foothold and spreads, value-based care depends on patient compliance,” says Brent. This has led to more healthcare providers seeking out insights from psychographics to improve patient outcomes and mitigate financial risks. Brent contends, “Patients are the most underutilized resource in healthcare.” 

While many efforts focus on fixing systems and processes, including prior authorization, success also hinges on patient adherence to care plans and medication regimens. Effective patient engagement can yield significant improvements in outcomes, reducing waste and inefficiency in the healthcare system. Automated prior authorization can help too, reducing care delays that can lead to treatment abandonment and compromise health outcomes. In combination, these efforts can turn value-based care into a reality. 

Connect with Myndshft to learn more about automated prior authorization.

Curious about which psychographic segment YOU fall into? Try the Psychographic Classifier