The Two Steps Healthcare Leaders Must Take to Achieve Scalable Behavior Change

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Kerri Petrin, MPH, is Vice President, Strategy and Business Developmen

By Kerri Petrin

As the healthcare industry continues emphasizing the value of patient centricity and engagement, industry leaders managing large, diverse populations are increasingly called upon to balance this expectation against various metrics of quality, efficiency, effectiveness, and cost. For healthcare leaders looking to encourage patient engagement and drive behavior change in support of quality care, affordable cost, and better health, technology offers an answer. It has presented a means to develop and execute programs that engage individuals in changing health-related behavior in a scalable way. 

Perhaps one of the most important ways in which technology can support this sort of engagement is in the deployment of analytics for program selection, design, execution, and evaluation. Analytics, specifically, have offered a means to realize population-level behavior change by rethinking the way healthcare initiatives are deployed in two key steps.

Step 1: Begin with the end in mind

Healthcare leaders should focus engagement and behavior change initiatives not on where they’ve been, but rather on where they want to be. They should shape initiatives around data-driven goals, based on their target population, baseline performance, available resources, and the expected efficacy of interventions. Goals can be set at the program level, the patient level, the measure level, or anything in between. 

In setting goals, make sure you can answer the following questions: 

  • What proportion of my population is at risk? 
  • How likely is my population to be receptive to intervention? 
  • Which members will benefit from in-person or other high-touch interventions?
  • Which members will benefit from text messages or other digital interventions?
  • How effective do I expect my interventions to be? 
  • Do different member segments respond differently to the same interventions?
  • What do I already know about member-level barriers that can inform the resources I need to succeed? 

Individuals comprising a healthcare population will have diverse needs and face different barriers. Analytic solutions can simulate the most valuable intervention mixes to address a population’s diverse needs. Simulations should inform an ideal intervention volume and allocation in order to have the greatest impact on behavior change, balancing overall goals and program efficiency. For example, RxAnte helped address a situation where a health plan was allocating more than half of its intervention resources to improve adherence on members who either could not achieve adherence (PDC >80 percent) or had already done so. 

Step 2: Implement, measure, and calibrate as you go 

Once you’ve set goals and identified key patient-level and intervention-level factors to drive success, you can leverage analytics to help inform the implementation and ongoing measurement and management of the behavior change initiative. 

Healthcare leaders can use analytics to identify whom to target and how to target them. If we look at medication use, for example, not all members will be willing or able to become adherent to their medications. Further, not all members will change their behaviors in response to the same type of intervention. The goal is to dedicate those high-value, behavior-changing resources to individuals that will benefit most.

The data informing a behavior change initiative should help you in regularly assessing and modifying its performance. The needs, barriers, and receptivity of the target population near the end of a program’s implementation are unlikely to be the same as the population targeted at the program’s start. Analytics offer a way to inform modifications and iterative improvements in the way you use interventions across a population. RxAnte regularly works with clients to modify the allocation of medication adherence intervention resources based on goals, intervention performance, and projected program outcomes.  

Adapting to the future of care

A growing aging population and rising costs of care only heighten the need for meaningful, scalable behavior change. This is achieved with the right use of technology, using analytics to deliver the right form of outreach to meet the unique needs of the individuals in the population. 

As healthcare and care delivery continue to evolve, healthcare leaders can use analytics in more diverse contexts, informing collaboration among clinical and non-clinical staff across disparate settings. Using analytics to identify and fuel the appropriate high-touch and high-tech tactics will continue to help inform better care at better cost, ultimately turning behavior change within an organization into behavior change across healthcare. 

Kerri Petrin, MPH, is Vice President, Strategy and Business Development. Ms. Petrin manages business efforts across all clients segments and business lines at RxAnte. She previously held roles at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the Brookings Institution, and the Puget Sound Health Alliance. Ms. Petrin holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Washington.

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