By John Lavey | Hammock President and COO

I recently attended a conference in Nashville on healthcare consumerism. Some great brains—both inside and outside of the healthcare industry—came together to address one of the great challenges for our healthcare system: How do you change customer behavior?

How can we influence individuals to comply with doctor’s orders after a physician visit or discharge from the hospital? How can we encourage individuals to invest in their own health or wellness before they become sick? 

Three major points stood out:

1. No one has cornered the market on encouraging healthy behaviors. 

Panelists confirmed what we already know about human and organizational behavior—it’s hard to change. Forced behavioral change for the healthcare industry—its migration from a fee-for-service environment to value-based care—compels providers, payers and private companies (including those producing disruptive technologies) to build a trusted relationship with consumers and then deliver the information that will help bring about desired outcomes, such as taking medications, following doctor’s orders and attending follow-up appointments.

2. Changed behavior and engagement are not the same thing. 

So what brings real behavioral change?

According to Brian Garcia from Welltok, engagement is a great word for marketing materials, but it’s not the desired outcome. The desired outcome is behavioral change. Engagement, explains Travis Bogard from Uber Enterprise, is a leading indicator for healthy behavior.

3. Storytelling that is meaningful to the recipient can change behavior. 

To change behavior, advises Paul Kusserow from Amedisys, try to tell a story that answers the question, “How is this meaningful to me?”

To be effective, you have to deliver customers a meaningful story on their terms, whether that’s via mobile, website chat or in person. As Kusserow says: If you “greet them in their lifeflow, in their daily actions, you have a shot.”

Advice: More and more, the role of communications in the healthcare industry is expanding from being a “marketing activity” to playing a vital clinical role as we recognize that patient outcomes depend on changing behavior, not just procedures and prescriptions.






Image Credit | Thinkstock

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