If there are two industries that don’t – on the surface – have anything in common, it’s healthcare plan provision and online gambling, and yet Harvard Business School professor Gary Loveman recently suggested that the former could have much to learn from the latter.
Speaking on ways in which healthcare plan providers could better engage consumers via the medium of technology, the economist suggested that gaming could deliver a number of valuable lessons, due to a rather inconspicuous link between the two: that they’re both reliant on human behavior and motivation.
Commenting that the world of online gaming has gotten the hang of attracting and engaging customers via a number of digital tools, he explained that it was important for healthcare plan providers to do the same, stating: “People want to be healthier… The challenge is just to unlock their native desire to do better in the system that surrounds them.”
Here are just a few of the lessons he suggested healthcare plan providers can take away from the seemingly distant industry.
The importance of incentives
According to Loveman, casinos understand that their customers represent a long-term asset – one that can deliver significant profits. With this in mind, they encourage certain behaviors, often making an initial investment in the individual. This can be seen in the widespread use of tools such as the welcome casino bonus, with many online providers offering no-deposit deals to new, and also returning, players.
Advertised on a host of directory sites, these provide the individual with numerous perks, with the downside for the casino being that they initially lessen the amount of profit the business is able to make from the player – in essence, these offers prove extremely beneficial to players. In doing so, this leads to a long-term relationship with the consumer.
These attempts to work out the best way to reach the client until they engage with their site are, according to Loveman, something that healthcare plan providers ought to replicate. The example he uses is encouraging the elderly to have a flu shot, in order to reduce the potential overheads of them catching the bug. Revealing that these costs could go as high as $75,000, he points out that it is worth spending over the odds to convince older customers to take such preventative measures so as to deliver a long-term benefit.
As he states: “If we have to send you out in a limousine and a marching band to give you that flu shot, it’s worth it. If you were a commercial business, that is exactly what you would do.”
Making customers feel like winners
According to Loveman, incentivizing consumers is not the only lesson healthcare providers should be emulating. In addition, he suggests that the gaming industry should act as an example of how to make customers feel like winners, through the medium of positive reinforcement.
Arguing that using tech to tell consumers what they haven’t done in terms of their health tends to drive them away – “If you have a device on your wrists and all it tells you is… you haven’t stood up since the last time you got a beer… [your interaction] with healthcare is constantly disappointing” – he says that the best way to encourage them toward reaching beneficial goals is to make it simple and personalized toward their interests.
He believes that a trusted and data-driven engagement is the simplest way to achieve this, incentivizing consumers to improve their health, and in doing so, transform themselves into a better investment for healthcare plan providers.
With healthcare representing an industry like any other, it seems it could – surprisingly – have much to learn from the increasingly successful world of online casino gaming.