Marketers have been using consumer segmentation models (also known as psychographics) for years to help track buying behavior and shape the customer experience.

The same approach to classification of people — based on their personality, values and lifestyle — is also increasingly popular in the healthcare and benefits industries as a way to influence and motivate both patients and employees. Studies show that using psychographics, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, helps healthcare professionals deliver a more personalized approach to well-being through diet and exercise — as well as providing clearer clinical support — with amazing results.

Psychographics can help create a meaningful increase in participation among employees in programs such as health risk assessments, biometric screenings, health coaching, disease management, and other benefit programs, including increased enrollment in HDHPs, according to experts.

Companies are relying on the latest research to determine the best ways to reach out to employees with different needs and wants. One well-known example is based on research from c2b solutions, a healthcare and consumer psychographics market research firm, which identified five main health personality segments in which employees can be categorized. They include:

1) Self achievers: This is the most proactive group that invests in health and appearance and will tackle a challenge if given measurable goals.

2) Balance seekers: They’re proactive about their health, but more open and independent about what success looks like. They want choices and don’t want to be told what to do.

3) Priority jugglers: They’re busy and may not take the time to invest in their own well-being. They are reactive when it comes to their own health, but proactive when it comes to their family’s health.

4) Direction takers: They rely heavily on what their physician says, but are not strict about fitting those recommendations into their routine; and,

5) Willful endurers: They’re not unhealthy, necessarily, but focus on what they see as more important things in life. A visit to the doctor’s office is only when it’s considered a must, or a last resort.

These categories are then used by organizations to increase response rates to benefit surveys, as well as enrollment into under-utilized plans such as HDHP, telehealth and onsite or near-site clinics, by tailoring the messaging with the language each of these health personality segments want to hear.

Tailored communication

Notifications about health program features can be custom developed according to individual preferences or “triggers.” For example, a balance seeker responds well to longer emails with lots of information, and would receive more regular updates. A willful endurer, however, responds more readily to shorter emails and texts; just scanning an email that’s “too long” may cause them to simply delete it, because for them, less is more.

Also see:How employers can help workers best utilize an HDHP.”

According to Mark Head, president of MDH Consulting, only the balance seekers and self achievers are proactive about their health and benefits — approximately 42% of employees. With the use of psychographics, employers can activate the “why should I” in the other three segments, and connect more persuasively with the other 58%.

By understanding these “habits of engagement,” organizations can increase response, participation and engagement levels in under-utilized benefits by up to 50%, according to c2b.

That’s good for employees, employers and the overall health system.

Another reason why companies should get on board: it’s the future. This type of advanced and personalized platform aligns with how people are already tracking their activities with wearables and smart watches. The next logical step is through virtual personal assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Now. The day isn’t that far off when these systems are incorporated into benefit programs.

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Anne Marie Kirby

Anne Marie Kirby

Anne Marie Kirby is founder and CEO of CoreHealth Technologies.