Recent survey results from CVS Health indicate that healthcare patients desire a more personalized healthcare experience. Over the last ten years, the online experience has become highly customized. Online vendors have more customer data and use it to extend personalized offers, reminders, and updates. Although people are concerned about online privacy, they are more likely to open and engage with relevant marketing communications.
As the healthcare industry has undergone digital transformation, more data is available in a digital format. But how and when can it be used? This article discusses how to use patient data to personalize healthcare communications without violating HIPAA requirements.
What is Healthcare Personalization?
Personalized health care places individuals at the center of the health care experience. Health care is a complex issue, and one system does not work for everyone. A person’s health status is influenced by many factors, including genetics, age, environment, social determinants, income, and countless others. A health care program that considers as many of these variables as possible can better address patient needs and increase access to care.
Why Personalize Healthcare Communications
Patients understand that their healthcare providers manage a lot of their personal data and want a personalized experience that respects their preferences. As audience segmentation and personalization techniques become more common in other industries like e-commerce and personal care, consumers expect the same experiences from their health care providers.
For example, say you order a jug of laundry detergent on Amazon. They can use common consumer data in combination with your last order date to estimate when you are likely to run out. Then, they can send an email reminder to encourage a reorder before you run out again. In a similar manner, healthcare providers should know when someone’s prescription is running low and could send a notification to let the patient they need to refill and help improve medication adherence.
A recent survey by CVS Health found that 85% of patients find personalized care to be important. In fact, 83% expect their primary care provider to be aware of their family medical history, genetics and inherited lifestyle habits. 71% of consumers said it was very or somewhat important to their health that they have customized alerts and reminders of screenings and checkups. This is even more common among patients under 40. The next generation of healthcare consumers expects their healthcare to fit seamlessly into their normal lives.
Ways to Personalize the Healthcare Experience
There are many ways to personalize the healthcare experience, but they all depend on the available data. An easy way to start is by asking for patient preferences. Some common ways to personalize healthcare communications include collecting information about patient preferences:
- Communication methods: How do they prefer to be contacted? Ask patients their preferred channels- email, texting, phone, and paper notifications are standard options.
- Language proficiency: Is English their first language? If not, send communications in the person’s primary language.
- Patient status: Are they active patients or overdue for regular screenings and appointments?
Looking at these attributes can help craft messages that appeal to patient subgroups.
The next level of personalization uses protected health information (PHI) to deliver extremely customized healthcare communications. The possibilities are truly endless, but here are a few examples to spark some ideas:
- Medical conditions: use information about patient medical conditions to send highly targeted communications about managing or preventing chronic conditions like depression, diabetes, and heart conditions.
- Screening reminders: Remind patients when they are due for mammograms, colonoscopies, or other screenings that are ordered based on age or risk factors.
- Patient retention and re-engagement: Did a patient skip their annual appointment or screening? Make it easy to reschedule by sending periodic reminders.
- Insurance status: send relevant communications based on the patient’s insurance status. For example, letting healthcare marketplace insurance holders know about re-enrollment periods to ensure they don’t drop their coverage.
Personalization provides a customizable healthcare experience for patients that eliminates friction and barriers to care. Using personalization to create educational campaigns can also help improve health outcomes. See How to Use ePHI to Segment and Personalize Email Marketing Campaigns for more information.
HIPAA Considerations in Customizable Healthcare
One reason that healthcare has been slow to adopt personalization techniques is HIPAA. These guidelines protect sensitive medical information and govern how it can be used. To send personalized messages like the examples discussed above, HIPAA guidelines must be followed. Some of the core requirements for sending HIPAA-compliant emails include:
- Access Controls
- Backups and Archival
- Anti-Malware Defenses
- Identity Authorization
- Reporting Mechanisms
- Review Procedures and Policies
See our HIPAA-Compliant Email Checklist for more information about the requirements.
LuxSci offers several solutions for sending HIPAA-compliant personalized messages. Contact us today to learn more about our Secure High Volume Email and Secure Marketing tools.