Retail marketers use the customer experience to direct both strategies and content. They rely on semi-fictional personas created from generalized demographic profiles, and develop outreach that can significantly influence and motivate consumers to take action. While retailers must rely on imaginary people, healthcare payers and providers have a breathtaking opportunity to understand the member journey with readily available healthcare data and analytics. Once understood, that journey or “experience” can be influenced with the right integrated health engagement strategies.

Many healthcare companies are looking at retail strategies to determine how they can be adapted for the member experience, and we think this is important. Just as it does in retail, personalization – mapping messages, media and methods to individual customer preferences – leads the way as part of an integrated member strategy. And perhaps even more importantly, personalization needs to be maximized at every step of the member, or patient, journey.

Have a Nice Trip

The roadmap for both retail and healthcare consumer journeys starts in the same place – identifying a problem. Next, the member must gather information and from there begin to evaluate the alternatives. The “sale” or third step in the journey within the healthcare industry can be anything from signing up for a wellness program such as a colon cancer screening test to enrolling in a new healthcare plan. What completes the circle are all the activities that support member retention. For retailers, sales are the overall objective and most desired destination. For healthcare, however, the objective is wellness and that takes continuous engagement and sustained activity. Plan enrollment is only the beginning in a continuous cycle that represents the member journey.

To personalize tactics for the member journey, payers and providers must show they know individual preferences beyond generalized market segment demographics. They must also become experts at learning the behavior of the member or patient within each stage of the member experience. The good news is that unlike retailers, payers and providers have precise records – health risk assessments (HRAs), claims and EHR data – that provide actual detail on the characteristics and behavior of specific member segments.

Traveling the Information Highway

The member experience must include the kind of information for making the right decision at every step, empowering patients and their families as partners in managing and maintaining their personal well-being. We’ve found a collaborative decision making process between provider and patient, payer and member, can be supported by data-driven healthcare insights that result in a continuous, sustainable member journey. Typically, the result is a much higher level of engagement at each stage of the journey.

High-yield customer engagement programs require integrated platforms that incorporate customer engagement, consumer tools and dashboards, business process automation, and data analytics. The right platform can adapt to specific member experiences, influencing and accelerating the rate at which the member moves through each phase of the journey.

Viewed as a whole, the result for payers and providers is simple and straightforward: mapping engagement strategies to customer journeys yields long-term positive results: improved customer acquisition and retention, lower costs, and most important, better care for improved health outcomes.