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The Top 3 Challenges to Personalization in Healthcare

Medical Team Meeting

Personalization challenges often relate to data. Data drives the solutions needed to deliver personalized experiences, making your data practices and governance a critical piece of the puzzle. Unfortunately, more data doesn’t necessarily create more value. What’s more important than how much data you have is knowing when to leverage data (Gartner).

Here are a few common challenges we’ve helped clients navigate:

1. No Single View of the Patient or Member

Having a 360-degree view of your patients and members is a cornerstone to executing the one-to-one marketing that progressive organizations are delivering. It’s also a significant obstacle for many organizations. Without a complete view of all consumer data, it’s difficult to know who your consumers are and how to anticipate their response at any given time.

This boils down to a data management issue. Organizations struggle to gain this single view for various reasons: inability to connect data across multiple systems, industry regulations, poor data quality, lack of patient and member data outside of the healthcare setting (e.g., transportation access, socioeconomic status, household income, food and housing, neighborhood, community needs, etc.), or lack of relevant supporting technology. These gaps hinder an organization’s ability to truly deliver person-centered touchpoints.

Overcoming these challenges involves building the right digital foundation to achieve a complete patient or member view. This includes:

  • A unified login and registration process across digital properties to recognize patients
  • A mature, orchestrated approach to data access and integration for the platforms you intend to use in driving personalization
  • Customer data platforms that collect data in real time for holistic, up-to-date member profiles
  • HIPAA-compliant targeted communications that are transparent and respectful of consumer data

While it may be a challenge, healthcare organizations are taking steps to integrate disparate platforms and achieve a holistic view of the consumer. External data sources, like the publicly available Health People 2030 or United States Census Bureau, can be layered in to add to the 360-degree view of the customer, ensuring social factors like car ownership, rent, and home ownership, are considered.

2. Inability to Quickly Gain and Apply Insights

First and foremost, your patients and members are consumers. These healthcare consumers are active across a variety of different channels and devices. If you wish to engage with a prospective audience, you must meet them where they are and become part of the conversation. To create a personalized experience in the moment, you can’t limit yourself to optimizing it for one channel, nor can you solely rely on historical and basic consumer profile data.

Whether you have thousands or even millions of members, you also need to be able to scale these personalized experiences. To do this, your digital experience platform needs to be able to harness and analyze member data to automatically deliver customized content, offers, and programs to individuals. When you automate the communication across channels, you will be able to improve conversions through consistent, relevant offers every time.

As emergent types of interactions within the healthcare system begin to see rapid adoption, the boundaries of this personalization also expand. Personalization isn’t just about pointing a patient to the tools, tasks, and experiences most relevant to them, it’s now about making sure that the consumer’s experiences across engagement screens, channels, and modalities mirror what you, their care provider, knows about them that others may not.

We are balancing the need for better, quicker, and faster personalized experiences with the real and pervasive risk that if we build these tools without thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), we could be building inequities into the foundations of the digital world we hope will transform healthcare by removing those very inequities.

AI and ML don’t understand the nature or risk of bias, instead these programs look at the data to find patterns that they can learn from. If models ultimately result in bias, it means the data provided to them has inherent bias in it.

There are specialized techniques that can be employed to monitor and detect for bias in AI and ML models, and those should be leveraged during the development and testing phases as well as in production to continuously monitor personalization predictions.

Bias detection should be closely analyzed to understand its impact on DE&I, as not all biases have the same level of risk and, in some cases, might even be expected (e.g., personalized maternity service messages are shown to be biased toward women between 20 and 40 years old).

Personalization becomes an extension of your healthcare organization’s own digital partnerships. Everything that makes the series of interactions and options easier for consumers to navigate – from core personalization to e-signature – is part of the overall goal.

Personalized solutions have the potential to draw out implicit biases that can perpetuate health inequities in marketing to your consumers. Here are some ways to combat this challenge:

  • Start with DE&I. Be aware that implicit biases exist, and you may be susceptible to them. If you bring a DE&I lens to every topic, you are more likely to build effectively.
  • Communicate with your consumers, patients, and members regularly, and educate yourself on ways to reduce your biases.
  • Leverage journey science services to make the right information as accessible, relevant, appropriately engaging, and timely as possible to reach the right people in the right way.
  • Leverage interoperability services to make informed and timely clinical decisions and to carefully and safely draw inferences about when and to whom/what we can communicate messages that will be most beneficial to patients.
  • Leverage automation techniques and continuously monitor for biases in your AI and ML models or marketing audiences and have a process to review those techniques through a DE&I committee.
  • Contact us to learn more about our journey sciences, interoperability, automation, and monitoring services.

EXPLORE NOW: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) in Healthcare

3. Lack of Coordinated Resources to Execute

Securing and coordinating resources to execute a personalization strategy is another challenge. Part of the problem lies with ownership of this role. Does it belong to the digital marketing team or a specialist in corporate marketing? What role does IT play, and to what extent are they involved in the implementation? Answers to these questions will vary based on the structure of your organization and the approach you take.

As you move from planning to execution of your personalization strategy, considerations will include:

  • Understanding the resources needed, and whether you can build internally or need to find an external partner.
  • Forming a center of excellence (CoE) or small team with cross-functional roles to provide leadership, share best practices, and offer support and training when needed.
  • Building your internal team by establishing a development governance model to ensure governance is an enabler rather than an inhibitor. When done right, governance should empower people to make decisions and streamline the decision-making process.

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Learn more about personalization in healthcare

Healthcare consumers have high expectations for a personalized (or at least a relevant) experience, but many healthcare organizations struggle with delivering it. This is especially difficult with the need to avoid invasiveness and inherent data bias towards the social determinants of health that could perpetuate inequities. A powerful digital foundation gives you the ability to personalize experiences.

While your organization may not yet deliver deeply personalized experiences, the potential is there. Partnering with a digital consultancy that specializes in healthcare solutions will help you reach that potential. Our experienced and award-winning team will not only help you implement the solution but also create a strategy to align the people and processes to embrace it.

Gain step-by-step guidance on how to overcome challenges, expand use cases, comply with regulations, combat bias in AI and ML models, successfully implement/execute/grow strategies, and use CDP/CRM/DXP to deliver personalized experiences through our interactive guide.

GET THE GUIDE: Personalize Your Healthcare Marketing: Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly

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Cassidy Rimmey

Cassidy Rimmey is a Marketing Coordinator in the healthcare industry at Perficient.

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