Healthcare Technology Featured Article

December 08, 2016

Engagement: How Well Do You Want to Know Your Patient?


“Engagement” has become a buzzword across the healthcare industry. All segments, from clinical to pharmaceutical to insurance, are exploring how to have better insight into the behavior, preferences and trends of those they are serving across their ecosystem.

Historically, most of the discussion around engagement was centered on identifying and keeping close track of preferences in order to develop a stronger business relationship. Healthcare organizations searched for ways to establish stronger “brand loyalty” in this age of hyper-competitiveness. Life Science companies looked for the advantage a strong brand can deliver by creating preference across their portfolio. Health Insurance organizations used data and analytics to identify and compete for profitable members. And Providers, especially with increased consolidation, recognized that competition for market share begins with brand loyalty and saw the opportunity to create allegiance through deeper engagement.

We are now seeing a change in how these organizations are collecting and applying their data assets. Across each of these segments there is recognition that by using data they can “engage” with their served populations to identify behaviors that impact health trends which provides the opportunity for earlier and much less costly intervention. Even without the incentives that an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) might provide, they see the opportunity to lower costs by providing more impactful care paths and a focus on “wellness.” In addition, they see that in competitive markets they must find new ways to serve their populations and that providing more comprehensive whole healthcare delivers “wins” for them and their members. Further, Life Science and pharmaceutical organizations recognize that lost revenue due to the low rate of prescription fulfillment and even lower rates of adherence can be mitigated by having a deeper understanding of how a patient’s behavior affects their therapy compliance and then identifying how to influence the patient’s decisions.

This is driving these organizations to develop deeper insights on an individual and population basis. Core to this is the need to capture and aggregate data from a variety of sources and systems. This foundational element is critical to achieving the goals of truly “engaging” with their targets. Equipped with both individual insights as well as large aggregated data sets of like populations, healthcare organizations are better equipped to identify likely trends and outcomes and how they might influence them.

As patients are increasingly interacting with their healthcare providers across multiple channels, we can see that there is precedence for this approach. In fact, each one of us has already, whether intentionally or unknowingly, deeply “engaged” across a wide spectrum of enterprises and are sharing our behavior in order for them to do a better job of coaxing us to modify that “behavior.” While we can envision companies like Apple tracking our app use and suggesting or even preconfiguring apps on a new purchase based on those observed preferences, your local supermarket can also track buying patterns in order to offer you discounts, try a related product or offer competitive products the opportunity to offer you coupons to switch brands. The goal of this data capture and use is all about finding ways to influence your behavior – try, buy, buy more.

From a healthcare perspective, while organizations within the industry have the similar goal of attracting more “customers,” there is also the new goal of using the same fundamental technology stack to motivate behavior change – to guide us to make better health choices, to adhere to therapies and prescriptions, to avoid “bad behavior,” and to adjust lifestyles to advance our “wellness.”

As with marketing tools, a first step is to develop a master data strategy and governance policy. What systems are available and what data can be aggregated. How will that data be kept both current and secure, but very importantly accessible to applications that will need it to react and provide insight and influence when needed. If marketing can do it, healthcare can too. Yes, there are certainly many challenges and risks that a standard marketing application may not have, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get started.

There is consensus that patient-centric care requires that we know our patients better. And, in knowing them, we gain insight that we can use to help them manage conditions – whether chronic or recovering from an acute episode – so that they can maximize their quality of life. Engagement is the critical strategy to achieve this, and building a foundation on pervasive, secure, reliable and meaningful data is the starting point.

About the Author

Tom Boyle is the lead Healthcare Industry Consultant at Informatica, guiding the commercial organization’s go-to-market strategies and advising clients on how to optimize their investment in data management. His background includes identifying emerging healthcare market trends, market structure, evolving business models & product solutions.  Working both in an advisory & delivery capacity, he is accomplished at identifying sustainable innovation & solutions that improve revenue growth.  Also experienced with market-driven product definition, market segmentation, go-to-market strategies/execution, alliances, & solutions addressing emerging markets, he has held roles in organizations spanning Fortune 500 to early stage start-ups.

With ~15 yrs technology marketing & business development experience in the life sciences & healthcare markets, he is also experienced in product development processes, manufacturing operations & sales operations. 




Edited by Alicia Young
By Special Guest
Tom Boyle, Lead Healthcare Industry Consultant at Informatica ,





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