RamaOnHealthcare November 29, 2021

Justin discusses consumerism in healthcare and how PatientBond enhances patient engagement using dynamic, digital workflows and a consumer science known as psychographics to motivate and activate patient behaviors. Dearborn also discusses how healthcare and patient engagement need to evolve over the next few years to create a superior consumer experience.

Justin Dearborn - CEO - PatientBond

Justin Dearborn, CEO, PatientBond

Questions/Answers

RamaOnHealthcare (ROH): Welcome, Justin, to our thought leadership series. The healthcare industry is amid a series of transformations focusing on “consumerism.” We see there is an incredible opportunity to drive real change when it comes to building experience for consumers and their families ensuring a healthier citizen. Where do you see the potential that will ease the challenges to ensure benefits?

Justin Dearborn (JD): There is a big opportunity in healthcare to adopt methods and techniques utilized by consumer products and retail industries to anticipate consumer needs and provide superior experiences. Historically, healthcare has taken a “one size fits all” approach to patients, or consumers, engaging them in an impersonal way. Assuming everyone with a particular health condition thinks and acts alike, which we know is not true.

While healthcare sits on a vast amount of WHO (demographics, socioeconomics, Social Determinants, etc.) and WHAT (behaviors, utilization, claims) data, it’s often missing the WHY, or why consumers make decisions or act in certain ways. Healthcare stakeholders need to understand consumer perceptions, motivations, and communication preferences. Consumer companies do this very well and design products, services, promotion, and user experiences on such consumer data. Behavioral economics, consumer science, and psychographic segmentation are very useful tools in this regard.

ROH: Humans are individuals, Humans are connected, Humans are essential, thereby the human engagement in managing health is a top challenge requiring creative thinking though not easy given the realities. Please outline PatientBond patient engagement platform and the psychographic segmentation model, and how it benefits the consumers and communities.

JD: PatientBond is a platform for patient engagement, which personalizes communications to the individuals’ motivations and communication channel preferences. To do this, PatientBond uses a proprietary psychographic segmentation model and digital workflows to engage healthcare consumers on their terms, whether by email, text messages, virtual calls, automated calls and in-app or in-portal messaging. PatientBond scales individualized engagement on population levels.

PatientBond is a platform for patient engagement, which personalizes communications to the individuals’ motivations and communication channel preferences.

Psychographics pertain to people’s attitudes, beliefs, lifestyles, and personalities and are core to their motivations. PatientBond’s psychographic model was developed by ex-Procter & Gamble executives using the methods helping to drive the success of P&G’s multi-billion-dollar brands. We have identified five distinct psychographic segments, each requiring a unique engagement strategy to maximize results. PatientBond leverages an individual’s psychographic profile to personalize messaging word and phrase choice, channel mix and frequency.

PatientBond leverages an individual’s psychographic profile to personalize messaging word and phrase choice, channel mix and frequency.

By engaging healthcare consumers on their terms, in the ways they want to receive communications and harnessing their personal motivations, PatientBond has been able to achieve significant business and clinical results on behalf of our clients; for example, reducing unnecessary hospital readmissions for serious conditions like congestive heart failure and COPD up to 85%, redirecting frequent ER visitors to primary or urgent care and improving medication adherence for specialty pharmacy. It’s easy to see how this benefits consumers, but we also benefit our provider clients with workflows for marketing and patient payments & collections.

ROH: We keep hearing: Personalized Medicine/Health, Precision Medicine/Health, Population Health Management. It is time to redefine and standardize the keywords as relevant to the industry. Please provide your thoughts on simplification of terms that consumers can understand, and how we can formulate and make it actionable.

JD: There is certainly a divide between “industry speak” and the way consumers talk about healthcare. Terms like “population health”, “customer journeys” and “workflows” are often used by providers and healthcare service and solution vendors, but most consumers don’t think or speak this way. This is a contributing factor to less effective patient engagement and suboptimal results.

In fact, we found with our psychographic model and ongoing market research that there are different ways to word communications that resonate better with each of the five psychographic segments. For instance, there are five ways to say, “take your medicine,” or “remember to keep your doctor appointment,” or even “pay your medical bill” to be most effective with the various segments.

PatientBond provides a codebook of “words to use” and “words to lose” across the psychographic segments based on our research. We’re excited to announce that in 2022 we are undertaking an ambitious initiative using machine learning and artificial intelligence to review thousands of healthcare marketing and patient education materials to identify segment-specific words, phrases, and images to help our customers automate the content development process – like Staples’ “Easy Button.” This should improve patient engagement significantly with very limited effort required from our clients.

We’re excited to announce that in 2022 we are undertaking an ambitious initiative using machine learning and artificial intelligence to review thousands of healthcare marketing and patient education materials to identify segment-specific words, phrases, and images to help our customers automate the content development process….

ROH: We believe Retail and Healthcare are at crossroads while Healthcare and Digital Technology, and Data are intersecting and driving consumerism. Please outline your thoughts on how consumer experience can be enhanced in managing health, outcomes, and cost.

JD: The consumer experience can be enhanced across all touchpoints in healthcare when stakeholders – including providers, payers, vendors, etc. – truly listen to consumers and understand their needs, wants, preferences and motivations. By anticipating and appealing to these factors, healthcare organizations can create experiences that go beyond mere patient satisfaction (i.e., sufficiency) to consumer delight.

PatientBond excels at making engagement a personalized, two-way discussion. Often, provider communications consist of talking at the patient or passing along information. Think of patient education materials or even billing statements – these are static pieces of content that don’t always allow for questions, clarification, or feedback. PatientBond incorporates patient responses into its communications to query feedback, monitor recovery and adjust workflows accordingly. It’s another reason why we enjoy high engagement rates across the digital channels we employ.

The other tendency healthcare stakeholders have is to define the consumer within the framework of the healthcare ecosystem when it should actually be vice versa… most consumers spend 5% or less of their lives interacting with healthcare stakeholders and most certainly don’t define themselves by their health condition. The healthcare system needs to understand how they fit into the consumers’ ecosystem and how their services and products fit into the broader context of their lives.

The healthcare system needs to understand how they fit into the consumers’ ecosystem and how their services and products fit into the broader context of their lives.

ROH: Consumers, while diversified, seek five attributes for engagement: convenience, simplicity, accessibility, affordability, and actionability while ensuring personalization. Please explain how PatientBond solutions help here.

JD: I’m happy to say that PatientBond addresses all five of these attributes and I’ll address each one separately, recognizing that there are interdependencies and synergies among them.

Convenience: PatientBond uses a consumer’s preferred digital channel mix, allowing communications to be right at their fingertips, most often via their smartphones. However, with medically underserved populations, we know many do not have email or even a consistent smartphone, so PatientBond can adjust to landline messaging and work to keep phone number records updated. Moreover, PatientBond incorporates patient actions, or response mechanisms, in communications to allow patients to answer or ask questions, and the workflows adjust in real time to these patient actions to accommodate patient needs.

Simplicity: PatientBond operates like other engagement platforms outside the healthcare industry, enabling consumers to receive and respond to information in ways that they are familiar and prefer. PatientBond also makes the information easier to understand and digest for consumers, using psychographic insights to personalize messaging and providing “just right” amounts of information with each touchpoint to avoid overwhelming the consumer.

Accessibility: PatientBond automated, multi-lingual workflows can work 24/7, pushing out and collecting information as needed with integration to all relevant EMR and CRM systems. All communications and patient responses are monitored and tracked on a dashboard by clinicians or marketers (depending on the type of workflows) for patient follow-up when necessary. With response mechanisms built into the communications, patients can interact with providers, and all messaging is personalized to a patient’s psychographic profile to facilitate understanding and motivation.

Affordability: We recognize many of our health system and payer customers have already invested heavily in technologies such as EMR/EHR, so we can price very competitively to be a “bolt-on” or enhancement to their current systems when we are not needed as a stand-alone platform. Moreover, automated digital communications are much less expensive than manual outreach, so human resources can be redeployed accordingly.

Actionability: PatientBond activates healthcare consumer behaviors by appealing to their motivations and communication preferences. Patient or member response to psychographic communications have consistently outperformed “one size fits all” engagement, often 4X-7X versus previous customer efforts, depending on the objective.

Also, because PatientBond communications include patient response functionality, healthcare stakeholders can monitor patient behaviors and take action when warranted. For example, we have been very successful helping to reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions for congestive heart failure and COPD. Between 10-15% of patients typically respond to communications indicating a higher risk of readmission (e.g., shortness of breath, increased weight, ankle swelling), so the care team is alerted that phone follow-up is needed. Staff resources are directed toward high-risk patients instead of being spread across an entire population, maximizing the impact of their efforts.

ROH: Social determinants and personal behavior contribute to about 80% of health while the rest is clinical care. How does PatientBond aligns with the new health determinants?

JD: PatientBond has been working a lot with social determinants lately and we have found that our psychographic insights complement and enhance SDoH models quite nicely. Importantly, social determinants, demographics and socioeconomics are not highly predictive of our psychographic segments. Our five psychographic segments are found in all population types and we have pressure tested the segments against social determinant variables using machine learning and found little correlation. Thus, our model has an additive effect in helping to motivate behaviors regardless of patient background.

For example, PatientBond worked with an advocacy group helping the medically underserved and inner-city citizens participate in multi-week, educational and lifestyle modification sessions. Leaders of the advocacy group reported a higher sustained participation rate and 100% of the participants indicated PatientBond communications were “Extremely” or “Very” helpful.

ROH: It is essential to provide digital front door for member engagement with omnichannel for multiple health services. How do you compare the players in offering a convenient, simple access to members?

JD: Omnichannel communications are critical for maximizing response. PatientBond has found that some psychographic segments like email while others prefer text messages and two of the segments like Interactive Voice Response, or automated calls. A “one size fits all” approach falls flat across a population and limits engagement effectiveness. Many healthcare organizations do not have seamless integration among the various channels, often being managed by different teams or decentralized among several vendors. These organizations – even large health insurers – do not have patient or member opt-in to receive these preferred channels, representing a substantial barrier to a superior consumer experience.

A “one size fits all” approach falls flat across a population and limits engagement effectiveness.

Many healthcare organizations offer an app or portal as a digital front door, but a relatively low percentage of consumers regularly use these resources. They either find them clunky, inefficient, or confusing, or they do not understand the value proposition for using them. Once the U/X is ironed out from the consumer’s point of view and they begin to appreciate how helpful these gateways can be in the context of their everyday lives, you should see an uptick in their utilization.

ROH: The traditional primary care, a major driver of healthcare delivery, is being disrupted and there are several types of players in play now: Payers, Retailers, Startups, Big tech cos. How do you see where this movement is heading into 2022? And how will/can PatientBond interact within these various environments?

JD: The consumer experience across all these players is generally inconsistent and discontinuous. Each take different approaches to consumers and bombard them with messages of different tonality and structure, and consumers are hit with overwhelming number of advertisements every day, which can be frustrating for consumers. It’s very challenging to be the signal through the noise.

Successful engagement and care will require all the stakeholders to play nicely in the sandbox together and integrate engagement efforts. PatientBond strives to be a great partner in this respect. In fact, vendor partners are a focus for our growth and we are investing significantly to ensure we integrate well with our customers’ current technology investments. We have an option we call BYOT or “Bring Your Own Technology” and we’ll work with you to incorporate our psychographic model and workflows into existing systems. When consumers win, we all win.

ROH: We are now experiencing a historical Health IT revolution as well as Digital Health evolution empowering patients/consumers. The four major federal initiatives: a decade of ongoing value-based models, price transparency, interoperability and no surprises act are in play now. Where do you see the potential that will ease the challenges as it relates to PatientBond?

JD: The success of value-based models depends on patients or members pursuing healthy behaviors and following providers’ recommendations. PatientBond excels in this area, because we have a proven track record of motivating and activating desired patient behaviors leveraging our psychographic model and consumer-preferred multi-channel workflows.

…we have a proven track record of motivating and activating desired patient behaviors leveraging our psychographic model and consumer-preferred multi-channel workflows.

As mentioned earlier, PatientBond strives to play well in the same sandbox with other technologies and has invested heavily in integration capabilities. For example, Salesforce Health Cloud offers the ability to bring useful and differentiated capabilities to a wider audience and PatientBond is taking advantage of this. Technology vendors who are not as cooperative may end up frustrating customers and erecting barriers to innovation and consumer-preferred experiences.

The No Surprises Act and price transparency are a definite nod to consumerism in healthcare, as patients take on more cost burden of their care. Consistent communications and expectation setting are key. PatientBond has driven significant increases in patient payments and collections – even for balances past 120+ days due – while reducing the costs for paper statements and postage. We’ve helped digitize the process and engaged consumers throughout the billing journey to improve their experience and capture a lot of money customers had been leaving on the table.

ROH: There is now a movement towards delivery of care at home (a shift of care services from the traditional hospital acute and post-acute care services), that should empower the patient and caregiver requiring a new mindset, environment. How would you accommodate non-traditional settings, and integrate with lifestyle enabling pro-active health risk management?

JD: From our market research we have found that there are certain psychographic segments that definitely prefer in-home care and telehealth while others actually prefer visiting a clinician’s practice. Thus, we want to avoid characterizing all patients as wanting a particular service, just like we want to avoid taking a “one size fits all” approach to patient engagement.

That said, I’ll reiterate how important it is for healthcare stakeholders to understand how they fit into consumers’ ecosystem and how to interact in the context of the consumers’ environment. Ethnographic research is incredibly helpful in this respect, observing consumers interacting with your product or service in their everyday lives and how it impacts their daily routines. Do you enhance or disrupt their day? Can consumers seamlessly engage with you and adopt your offerings like a habit?

PatientBond is location agnostic, whether traditional or nontraditional. We engage consumers wherever they are, on their terms using their communication preferences. We also conduct ongoing market research among healthcare consumers to understand and anticipate their evolving needs, habits, behaviors and adoption of new communication channels to ensure we stay a step ahead of the market.

ROH: Where do you see the “health and care, digital, data driven transformation” market headed in the coming five to ten years and how PatientBond is positioned?

JD: Five to ten years is a long time in the rapidly evolving tech space. Consumers will bear a greater share of the cost of healthcare, but with this comes greater expectations about choice and service. These consumer expectations could mirror, to some extent, the experience they have with Apple, Amazon and Netflix. We’re still not quite there, yet. There is a lot of investment focused on this, but truly personalized dynamic workflows have not really hit healthcare yet.

Health systems are taking on more value-based contracts, so incentives are shifting to support wellness. This will require better patient engagement methodologies to drive behavior change because patient activation is a very large share of the economics of these contracts.

Per my earlier comments, we should take the entire consumer ecosystem into account, not just the healthcare ecosystem in a vacuum. How do we enable consumers to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives by integrating our engagement, products, and services into their daily lives? Where and when are the integration points throughout the day that health & wellness engagement feels natural or facilitates preventative and healthy behaviors?

Specific to PatientBond, we are employing machine learning, Artificial Intelligence, and ongoing market research to continue to hone our psychographic model and constantly improve our patient engagement methods. We recognize that we will evolve past segmentation models to true one-to-one engagement leveraging an extensive and growing set of healthcare and non-healthcare data from a variety of sources. Psychographics provide powerful insights and will continue to be an ingredient in the recipe of our patient engagement approach. However, we also continuously innovate to best accommodate diverse individual needs and challenges based on our 360-degree view of healthcare consumers.

About Justin Dearborn

Prior to becoming CEO of PatientBond, Justin Dearborn served as CEO and later CEO & Chairman of Tribune Publishing from 2016 to 2019, a publicly listed billion-dollar media company. Before Tribune Publishing, he served as CEO and director of Merge Healthcare, a publicly listed clinical software solution provider. During his tenure, he led the company through a period of transformation and was acquired by IBM and integrated into IBM’s Watson Health division to deliver intuitive, cognitive computing solutions to healthcare providers.

 
Topics: Interview / Q&A, Trends
Q&A: Dr. Rekha Kumar, Chief Medical Officer, Found
Q&A: Jon Laurent, Ph.D., Head of research and development at the Pandemic Response Lab (PRL)
Q&A: Scott Weingarten, MD, CEO of Welcome Health, SCAN Group
"Democratize Mental Healthcare Globally": Russell Glass, CEO, Headspace Health
A “Mohan Nair Interview” with Dr. Inderpal Bhandari, Global Chief Data Officer at IBM