Why Personalizing Care is Essential to Patient Engagement Success

Content and interactions tailored to address unique individual choices and preferences create long-lasting healthy outcomes and drive habit changes.

Stress, bad sleep, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, and substance abuse are at the root of most chronic diseases. Yet, while the risky behaviors on this list are the common drivers of the nation's $3.8 trillion in annual health care costs, their treatment, and how to help people shift their behaviors, varies greatly. Treatment plans and behavior change ultimately come down to the individual level.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to health and wellness programs. No blanket response that can help people achieve healthy outcomes. Rather, to realize positive results for participants, providers must look to the individual. Herein lies the challenge many health and wellness programs encounter in their efforts to attract, retain, and engage participants. They fail to address participants on an individual level to ultimately drive their involvement and personal successes. However, personalized content shouldn’t be overlooked. Content and interactions tailored to address unique individual choices and preferences create long-lasting healthy outcomes and drive habit changes.

The power of one-to-one communication in driving health habits

Engaging people in their health care and wellness journeys can not only impact their quality of care, it also has the ability to improve their overall experience and outcomes. Research shows that when an individual works with a health coach, their rates of care plan and/or medication adherence and completion increases—both markers of patient engagement and self-efficacy. In fact, a study our company conducted found that engaging patients in one-to-one health coaching led to a 112% increase in patient completion rates of treatment plans designed to help them better manage chronic health conditions.

Some big hurdles remain for providers, however: One-on-one coaching isn’t scalable, meaning health care providers can’t effectively oversee continuous support. Individual needs present another challenge. People need—and expect—to get help, ask questions, and receive answers at any time of the day and on any given day. This is where technology steps in to provide a personalized experience at scale.

One-on-one patient care requires time and personnel resources, both of which are hard to come by in health care. But with the integration of virtual health coaching and digital health technologies equipped to engage patients with genuine, automated one-on-one conversations, providers can better deliver care beyond their clinical setting, which is how lasting results are made.

Individualized content, care pathways are critical for maintaining participation

But what does all this talk about personalization really mean? When it comes to helping patients change health habits, no matter their individual goals, it means they have access to targeted health strategies that are designed to generate long-term, positive results. These strategies can include, but aren’t limited to: content, instructional courses, and coaching.

In fact, to truly scale personalized care, providers must go beyond simply providing resources specific to an individual’s condition and characteristics. With the help of technology platforms, they can do just that. To effectively inspire engagement, platforms must provide a few key elements:

  • Approachable dialogue: This is having a personal, intimate conversation with a patient that invites them to ask questions, receive answers and talk about how they imagine their personal care.
  • Flexibility of care: Lives and stresses can change on a dime. Effective platforms should allow for flexibility of care, giving people the ability to adjust their paths and goals when their life shifts unexpectedly. Whatever a patient’s end goal may be, such as quitting smoking or improving their overall health, in order to stay relevant and viable to patients, platforms must factor in flexibility and help relieve patient stress.
  • Enhanced patient experiences: People want to feel heard. The best digital health platforms deliver on this front by creating personalized experiences that inspire engaging and memorable interactions. Coupled with the ability to provide impactful strategies for personalized care paths based on an individual’s needs, these leading platforms can create more effective engagement.
  • Individualized two-way communication: To achieve sustainable, healthy results, platforms should deliver two-way conversations that foster relationship building, establish trust, and create meaningful engagement openings to drive behavior change across diverse patient populations.

The most effective platforms can create an open, two-way conversation with patients and providing individualized content and care pathways that respond to life changes and what motivates an individual. Building rapport and trust ultimately leads to people successfully making behavior changes, practicing healthier habits, committing to sustained participation and achieving health and wellness goals.

Personalizing recruitment, onboarding and program delivery is essential

Starting strong is central to sparking individual action and change. That’s why the onboarding process for any digital health platform is critical. Best-in-class digital platforms focus on personalization and utilize omnichannel communication in ways that inspire patients to act. Reaching people across multiple communication channels leads to heightened awareness and throws out a wide net for engagement.

By using detailed intake assessments, digital health platforms can gather detailed, confidential data from patients in the form of health risk assessments and lifestyle questionnaires to kickstart their wellness journey. And, throughout the onboarding and engagement process, these platforms ask a range of questions to learn what motivates each individual to act before using this feedback to deliver uniquely tailored content that will have the greatest impact..

Providers can also facilitate patient action. It starts with that personalization process. What are an individual’s needs? Their risk factors and behaviors? What about their goals? How do they best learn new information? Communicating openly and genuinely with patients is where this process begins. To help patients make meaningful behavior changes and deliver better health outcomes, providers can integrate technology platforms delivering personalized care. This will allow patients to access tailored, around-the-clock care and support to achieve their goals.

To achieve lasting improvements in health, and ultimately prevent and treat chronic disease, solutions cannot take a broad-brush approach. Personalization is critical to building care pathways that help individuals build a strong foundation and generate momentum to change unhealthy behaviors.

Individualized care and enhanced health coaching also lower health care costs. Patients who improve their general health, complete their treatment protocols, and make healthier choices are far less likely to require expensive interventions later on, reducing the strain on limited resources required to address population health needs. Moreover, non-engaged patients often require more of a provider’s resources and staff hours to address any recurring health issues than those who take proactive steps to manage chronic conditions. With the help of effective, personalized platforms, providers can mobilize individuals to make impactful change.

Lagemann is co-CEO of Avidon Health, an innovative, white-label coaching solution that helps drive behavior change for diverse populations.