A smart healthcare marketing blog
May 2015

Segmenting the healthcare consumer

overlapping shadows of people

There are many changes in the health provider marketplace that are driving toward a model of consumerism. The Affordable Care Act and Health Insurance Exchange have resulted in millions patients shopping for their care. Hospitals must grow with this shift, and design services, as well as experiences that deliver patient needs and expectations. The “one size fits all” approach to patient recruitment, with a single message and cannonball delivery, is limited and ineffective.

All consumers are not alike – even if they share a common health condition!

In reality consumers do not approach health care in the same way. They have different expectations, experiences, knowledge, and provider interactions. Consumers also have different motivations. For example, one patient may be motivated by a sense of duty to family members, while another may driven by personal control over a specific disease. The catalyst and ways to communicate with these patients are very  different.

Healthcare marketers need to delve into consumer segmentation to understand the differences among patients and deliver more personalized, and successful campaigns.

[1] Demographic & Socioeconomic Segmentation

Grouping patients by gender, age, ethnicity, income, education or geography

  • Advantages – easiest approach, easy to identify and target consumer groups in a database
  • Disadvantages – limited effectiveness as it assumes everyone in a group thinks and acts in the same way

[2] Behavioral Segmentation

Grouping people by their behavior (e.g., healthcare behavior tracked by a medical claims)

  • Advantages – targeting based on proven patient/consumer habits & practices, easy to identify and target consumer groups as members of the organization database
  • Disadvantages – assumes everyone with the same behaviors has the same motivation, messaging may not be persuasive for all members of a consumer group

[3] Attitudinal Segmentation

Grouping people by shared attitudes and emotions on a given subject (e.g., how they feel about Health Care Reform)

  • Advantages – connects with consumers’ beliefs and needs
  • Disadvantages – difficult to target consumers by attitude in a database

[4] Psychographic Segmentation

Grouping people by shared values, interests, principles, beliefs, emotions, personality

  • Advantages – more effective to resonate with a consumer’s motivations and unspoken needs
  • Disadvantages – difficult to target consumers in a database

Net, Demographic/Socioeconomic and Behavioral segmentation methods are the easiest to execute, but may be limited in their effectiveness for evolving consumer behavior. Attitudinal and Psychographic segmentation
may be more effective in connecting with consumers’ motivations, but they are difficult to scale across a

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