Target Your Audience
Engagement must focus first and foremost on the interests and needs of consumers. Consumers have varying levels of education and motivation. Some want only information, while others are looking for support. Some have little or no experience with the health care system, while others areverysophisticated. Data, websites, public reports, and other resources become meaningful and relevant when consumers feel they allow them to achieve their goals. The information presented and selected approaches to consumer engagement must be clearly defined, accessible, and presented in aneasy-to-understand manner. Finally, the messages should convey information that is relevant to consumers and applicable to their everyday lives.
Consumers are more likely to engage with trusted sources, including brands and organizations they recognize and see as neutral and reputable. An organization seeking to engage consumers must establish itself as a trusted source for consumers or build relationships with brands or organizations recognized as neutral and reputable.
- Partnering with Consumer Reports to offer a special insert of Consumer Reports Health that used local data on provider performance to help regional consumers make more informed decisionsis an excellent example of brand affiliation.The opportunity to expand the Alliances’ reach to the Consumer Reports subscriber base was a creative partnership.
- The Cleveland and Memphis Alliances worked with local grocery stores to promote healthy choices for consumers managing conditions such as diabetes. These partnerships spurred access to respective Alliances’ public reports as an additional resource.
Adapt successful programs. Alliances had good results in taking proven methods (e.g., chronic disease self-management planning and consumer-tested messaging) and adapting them to fit the needs of their community. Participation in the AF4Q program provided Alliances with various opportunities to learn from one another, share successes and challenges, and work together to move collective and individual agendas forward. For example, Humboldt County’s Our Pathways to Health, whichis based on the Stanford model, was adapted and implemented by several other AF4Q Alliances.
Alliances engaged consumers in their health and health care through forging new partnerships, and designing broadly accessible programs, materials, and resources.
Ultimately, consumers must find value in their experience in engaging in healthcare. As the Alliances learned, there is no one tried and true method to engage consumers effectively in health care. All approaches to engaging consumers must recognize that the health care system is only one set of tools consumers use to manage their health. Engaging consumers in their own health care or managing their conditions takes time and resources, but it is critically important. Individual consumers have primary responsibility for their health, and engaged consumers derive value from and drive improvement within the health care system.