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Addressing Health Equity with Digital Communications

Tuesday, April 19th, 2022

According to a HIMSS Market Insights study, nine out of ten healthcare executives see health equity as a top business priority. Improving health equity can drive value for other business metrics including patient satisfaction, provider retention, health outcomes, and cost reduction. Using personalized, scalable digital communications can be an effective way to address health equity issues.

health equity

 

What is Health Equity?

According to the CDC, health equity is “achieved when every person has the opportunity to attain his or her full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.”

Under President Biden, the Department of Health and Human Services has prioritized health equity in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 highlighted the racial, economic, and social disparities of the healthcare system. COVID-19 killed Black, Latino, and Indigenous people at double the rate of White people. Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders remain three times as likely to contract the illness compared to White people. Addressing the social, cultural, racial, and economic factors that contribute to this disparity is essential to improving individual and population health.

Improve Health Equity with Digital Messaging

Digital messaging is just one tool that can be used to improve health equity. Today’s technologies make it easier to communicate with patients at scale. Email and text messaging are two scalable and cost-effective options for engaging with patients. To address health equity issues with email and text messaging, it is essential to utilize segmentation and personalization techniques.

Segmentation and Personalization

Thanks to the widespread use of EHR systems, healthcare marketers can access a wide variety of patient data. These health records not only contain information about health conditions, but also information about demographic and racial categories.

Marketers can create segments of patients that share common characteristics and develop messaging that speaks to their needs. Redpoint Global found that personalized messages had a response rate that was 7x that of generic messages. By personalizing digital communications, it is possible to reach more patients and improve health outcomes.

An Example of Personalization and Segmentation

Let’s use the COVID-19 vaccine rollout as an example. The vaccines were available for certain age groups first, with some exceptions for those with pre-existing conditions or job roles. Using demographic data from the patient database, marketers sent targeted campaigns to segments of patients when they were eligible for a vaccine appointment. These highly relevant emails were very effective at encouraging sign ups.

Age is one way to segment the audience, but let’s take it another step further to address health equity. In addition to age information, a health record also contains information like the patient’s native language and communication preferences. By further segmenting the patient population using these factors and personalizing the message content, it can increase response rates and close care gaps. For example, sending a Spanish version of the vaccine sign-up communication to Spanish-speaking patient populations increases the likelihood that those patients will understand and act on the message. Another example is sending a text message instead of an email to households that lack broadband access. This ensures that everyone receives the message, regardless of income level or geography.

For more information, learn how this Colorado health care provider used personalized text messaging in their COVID vaccine rollout. They reached nearly 80% of their patient population with targeted outreach and community support.

Conclusion

Digital communications like email and texting can be highly effective ways to reach marginalized patient populations. However, do not forget about HIPAA compliance! Communications personalized and segmented using ePHI need to be secured.

LuxSci offers secure email services and texting designed to meet HIPAA requirements. If you would like to learn more about how to address health equity with secure communications, please contact us today.