High-Value Health Care Consumers, Part 2: How to Cultivate Innovators and Early Adopters

August 21, 2020

// By Paula Serios //

In Part 1 of this two-part series, we looked at surprising results from a proprietary national study. Two cohorts — Innovators and Early Adopters — have the potential to consume more health services and generate higher revenues than any other. The key is to understand what makes them tick, and then serve up authentic, unique, and meaningful experiences.

The Innovator and Early Adopter cohorts tend to be younger, married with children, well educated, high-income, employed, and commercially insured. They make the majority of health care decisions for themselves, their partners or spouses, their children, and increasingly for their parents. They are visionaries who are highly motivated in that decision-making process.

They are digital natives or highly fluent digital immigrants focused on the convenience of digital and the value it provides to them as individuals. To precisely reach this unique behaviorally driven segment, health care providers and payers must have a digital-first foundation:

  • An optimized website as a digital hub, including retail-friendly design and interface that meets their needs with simplicity on any device, with particular attention paid to the mobile experience
  • A clinical and marketing-integrated data repository that allows for deep mining and analysis and leads to dynamic, actionable marketing strategies
  • The ability to layer behavioral attributes over the Innovator and Early Adopter demographics for precise targeting

Once your foundation is in place, there are three strategic pillars to begin cultivating Innovators and Early Adopters.

1. Follow, Don’t Lead

Health care is a critical rite of passage for Innovators and Early Adopters, a key aspect of their journey to “adulting.” As they make this journey, they crowdsource their health care decisions, seeking advice from experts, friends, and family. They are avid content producers themselves and share their experiences, particularly on social media. In essence, they are thoughtful yet loud people. Paying attention to their health care commentary will provide you with everything you need to develop a dynamic content strategy and reach them effectively on social media.

Cleveland Clinic leveraged a comprehensive video library of 100 health video assets and dynamically deployed of-the-moment content through both owned and paid channels based on active social listening. The content team evolved its strategy by building contextual data and delivering hyper-personalized paid ads. This approach enabled them to deploy content addressed to individual needs and preferences. New-patient acquisition increased dramatically out of these strategies.

A second approach — with an eye toward cost-effectiveness — is to amortize your content across all social channels. This allows you to efficiently reach Innovators and Early Adopters. Blue Cross Blue Shield’s eCards for Health program offers visual, shareable well-being messages that are interactive as well as genuinely compassionate and channel agnostic.

Bottom line: Visual, authentic content that is both topical and leverageable will reach Innovators and Early Adopters where they live — on social media.

2. Adulting as Parents

Parents are a key segment of Innovators and Early Adopters. Building loyalty out of positive life milestones is an opportunity for health care providers. These prospective and current parents seek communication that is:

Authentic – Selling is easily one of the quickest turn-offs for Innovators and Early Adopters. Providers as catalysts of parenting conversations create a forum for engagement that builds trust.

Unique – Experiences that are unique to individual needs with an emphasis on services that offer personalization, such as fitness areas for new dads, or private family waiting rooms.

Meaningful – A clear connection to Innovator and Early Adopter core values cements a brand-consumer relationship. Advisory boards to help design services that meet their values are one approach.

While digital channels are first for Innovator and Early Adopters, long-form print is an important second. Reaching parents — especially new parents — presents a specific opportunity to speak to their love of long reads. While digital natives, they actually read and respond to print and direct mail. A recent USPS study cites that 87 percent actually enjoy direct mail. They appreciate and seek out long reads in search of a more emotionally developed message that aligns with their values. And what could be more emotionally engaging than the birth or raising of a child?

Bottom line: Parents represent a ripe opportunity to reach the most valuable health care consumers through both digital and long-form print, creating coveted emotional intimacy.

3. Raise Your Voice

Self-management is key to Innovators’ and Early Adopters’ hearts, but it must be convenient. Voice-activated applications create just such ease of self-directing and self-managing their health care. Voice device interaction is already ingrained in our modern world with 58 percent of all searches on Google voice-recognized with a projection of 90 percent by the end of 2021. Use of smart speakers is rapidly increasing, at a resounding rate of 40 percent this past year with 26 percent U.S. penetration. Voice activation is in our homes and in our pockets and has already entered our hospitals.

Several health systems are trialing or implementing Smart Speakers in ICUs and acute hospital rooms, including Cedars-Sinai, Mayo Clinic, and Boston Children’s Hospital. The ease of asking for the lunch menu, when a medication is due, or for discharge instructions is creating greater patient satisfaction.

Henry Ford Health System has embraced a voice strategy in several areas. To reach Innovators and Early Adopters, it has focused on access with voice-recognized queries to select the right care setting — Primary Care, Telemedicine, Urgent Care, or Emergency Room. Projected wait times, reserving a spot in line, and even a partnership with Waze to provide quick and easy driving directions have increased patient satisfaction exponentially, not to mention helping drive lower costs with the right need being served in the right setting. An example of a highly specialized voice-activated tool is its transplant referral app that produced double the referrals in just one year.

Bottom line: Implementing a voice recognition strategy will speak directly to Innovators and Early Adopters and they, in turn, will promote your organization for creating an easy consumer experience — not something you often hear in health care.

Solve Their Problems and They Will Come

As you identify Innovators and Early Adopters in your service area and clearly understand their most pressing problems, you have a tremendous opportunity to create marketing-attributable revenue at a critical time in health care.

Paula Serios is senior vice president, BVK Health. She brings a holistic perspective to health and service industries, with more than 25 years of agency, corporate marketing, and consulting experience. Described as a “disruptor for the greater good,” she unearths clarity and results-driven solutions to complex marketing and business problems in life-changing categories.