More on consumer targeting for health plans

Wrapping up this morning’s Silverlink seminar….

Stan Nowak, Silverlink CEO, says we’re all part of an experiment in response rate from credit card marketing departments (previous speaker Fred Jubitz had talked lots about that!). It’s not cheap to do, but the best companies in consumer marketing are doing it because those experiments (sending out all those letters) can offer a small percentage lift. And they’re good at predicting who will do what based on these segments.

But in health care those same metrics don’t apply. What determines
health behaviors are not the same thing as what determines other
decisions. That makes it much more complex. Adaptive HealthComm Science
is Silverlink’s tag line for using analytics to change the message, the
time, the voice used, (Tony Soprano for a collections call?) etc, etc,
to see what results work better. Years ago they actually found that
using a southern accent for calls in the south did 40 percent better
than using a regular “voice.” So they’re using the analytics and then
as Stan says are in the business of doing something about it (trying to
reach people and change their behaviors).

And then continual measurement, testing and re-testing is the key.
Stan says that health care (including SIlverlink) is very early in
figuring out what drives behaviors (even though they have pretty good

However there’s no question it’s really, really hard, and it’s not
clear that health plans can make the jump to focus on this. Liz Boehm
quoted Yoda — “Don’t try, do or not do.”

Outside in the corridor Liz also mentioned to me that the problem of
getting people to change their health behaviors has never been done by
anyone (I mentioned Nazi Germany’s Strength through Joy
recreation & exercise program, but Liz pointed out that that type
of “encouragement” might not go down too well in the American health
care market!). So as health plans get into this, while changing health
behaviors is something that should be done, it’s still not certain that
it can be done in a way that will really change population health.

And that indeed is the biggest challenge of all.

4 replies »

  1. John, to defend Liz, I was paraphrasing. She meant on a mass scale. the only example of MASS behavior change she and I could come up with (outside of 1930s Germany) was the 40 year effort to reduce smoking rates in California. The rest of the efforts you cite are relatively limited… in scope in not in scale. Instead we’re about to ask health plans to essentially eliminate risk factors for chronic disease..

  2. I’ve always wondered how well those programs to check blood pressure and do diabetes counseling in beauty parlors and barber shops work.

  3. “…the problem of getting people to change their health behaviors has never been done by anyone..
    ..it’s still not certain that it can be done in a way that will really change population health.”
    How can cultural habits be changed when the marketing/product/subsidies used to create the bad health culture habits still drives the culture. Forget trying to do what cannot be done and just tax bad behavior, remove food subsidies from corn, and use the subsidies for organic fresh fruits and veggies. You can also use the tax money to pay for bad health outcomes. I know, my cure has as much chance of being put in place as the drive to change health behaviors has of changing anything. I can hear the food and sick care industry laughing on the sidelines.

  4. Liz needs to do her homework, beginning with Scotts, the fertilizer company then Safeway. After that she may want to talk to EMC and IBM. All of these companies have indeed implemented programs that have changed behaviors. Granted, some may be draconian (Scotts) but they are effective.