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Healthcare Decision-Making: Content Types for Each Stage of the Process

A healthcare provider's hands typing on a laptop with a stethoscope, a pen and a clipboard in the foreground

A circular graphic showing the five stages of the Transtheoretical Model with an Icon: Precontemplation (with a frowning face), Contemplation (with a person's head with a cog in it), Preparation (with a tapping finger), Action (with a mountain climber) and Maintenance (with a thumbs-up icon).In the healthcare and life sciences space, good content strategy and content creation are rooted in scientific principles. We base our work on key tenets of behavioral science and psychosociology. One of the most important of these that forms a foundation of our work on healthcare personas and journey mapping is the Transtheoretical Model, which describes key stages of healthcare decision-making and is an often-used method for modeling behavioral changes.

It’s important for healthcare organizations (HCOs) to influence those decisions among consumers in their service areas. One way to do that is to have specific types of content to appeal to consumers at each stage of the Transtheoretical Model. By appealing to where individuals are in their healthcare decision-making processes and their personal journeys, you can help position your HCO as the logical choice to help consumers address their needs.

One note of clarification here: Don’t expect all consumers to go through the entire journey with you. Some likely will. But some may come in ready to act on their decision and don’t need the earlier stages of the process from you. Some may even have already acted on their own and simply need your HCO for support after the fact. This is another point in support of having a wide variety of content to support consumers at every stage.

With that in mind, let’s go through the five key stages of the Transtheoretical Model and discuss what kinds of healthcare content you can create and surface to consumers at these critical stages.


In the precontemplation stage, the consumer either doesn’t yet think they have a problem or isn’t motivated enough to act on the problem they know exists. They may underestimate the pros of deciding to act against the cons of not acting.

Healthcare consumers in the precontemplation stage need content to pull them into the top of the marketing funnel so they’re aware of your HCO and/or aware of your organization’s ability to help them. Your content for consumers in this stage should include:

  • Social media posts promoting services or products, provider teams, etc.
  • Digital marketing campaigns based on consumer demographics
  • Email campaigns
  • Health quizzes (e.g., “Find out whether you’re at risk for heart disease”)
  • Symptom wizards (e.g., “Let’s find out whether you could benefit from seeing one of our cardiologists”)
  • Premium wizards (e.g., “Let’s figure out how much you could save on your health plan costs”)
  • Blog articles – both specific to services and products your HCO offers and information related to your offerings, such as health and wellness articles

This kind of content should help “prime the pump” for your consumers to start changing their minds. And it can help them start associating your HCO with their healthcare needs when they decide to move forward. You need the consumer to start thinking of your organization so they come back for the next phase.


We had a client a while back who was convinced their website should just be locations listings and calls to action, because the person who navigates to their site clearly wants to act. After all, they came there from Google, right? We had to walk them through why it’s good to have content that speaks to consumers at every stage, because some people won’t have made up their minds yet. The contemplation stage is that moment in time.

A consumer in the contemplation stage intends to act soon. However, the pros and cons of action are in relative balance for them. They need more evidence or motivation before they’ll act.

Your content for this phase of the healthcare decision-making process should focus on positioning your HCO as the best, most logical choice for the consumer. It should speak to your value proposition — why the consumer should trust you for the service or product they’re seeking. Content to gear toward the contemplation stage should include:

  • Service-line content (for healthcare provider organizations)
  • Health plan content (for health plan organizations)
  • Product content (for life sciences and medical equipment providers)
  • Patient stories, using the hero’s journey as a model
  • Videos
  • Blog articles

The contemplation stage is the best chance to change the consumer’s mind. They’re open to options and weighing their choices. But remember: It’s also the last chance to change their mind. Don’t be pushy, but be persuasive and authentic to give your message the best chance of resonating with your audience members.

Related: 4 Soft Skills to Take Your Healthcare Content From Good to Great


The consumer who has reached the preparation stage is ready to act. Now they’re simply looking for the right options, partners and pathways for them to take that next step.

Going back to that example I mentioned before — the preparation stage of healthcare decision-making is all about easing the path to conversion. Every piece of your content for the consumer in this phase should help them move forward with your HCO, including:

  • Calls to action (CTAs)
  • Find a provider/find care
  • Location pages
  • Open scheduling
  • Provider profiles
  • Telemedicine/virtual care


In the action phase, the consumer is … well … acting. They don’t need information to help them choose a provider, plan or product. They’ve made their choice and are following through on it. But they do need help and support as they move through this phase of the healthcare decision-making model.

Your content in this phase should be about supporting the relationship and helping the consumer continue their journey. Pieces to consider include:

  • Regular check-ins within your customer relationship management (CRM) system
  • Setting reasonable expectations and what to do if the consumer is having trouble
  • Information about related services
  • Content about support networks/services
  • Services and products for chronic conditions
  • Reminders about regular follow-ups as needed

The action phase is a delicate one. It’s common for healthcare consumers to fail in a treatment course, not succeed with a medical device or otherwise have trouble during this time. Regular, ongoing support can help them improve their chances of success and build their loyalty to your HCO.


Healthcare consumers in the maintenance phase have sustained their choices and continued their journeys. This phase of healthcare decision-making is about long-term validation and relationship-building. Your content should include:

  • Regular check-ins (but on a longer cadence, depending on use cases/conditions)
  • Ongoing support services information
  • Marketing and remarketing campaigns for related services, chronic care, etc.

Your role now is to help support the consumer as they continue to make good choices about their health. And, with your HCO as their partner, they’ll have the support they need over the long haul.

Where are you with your HCO’s decision-making process?

Whether you’re just considering your options, you’re ready to act or you’re perhaps reconsidering some strategy choices that didn’t do enough for your organization, we’re here to help you. Contact us to explore how our content strategy solutions can position yourselves as the right choice for your consumers.

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Michael Adkins, Senior Content Strategist, Digital Health Strategy

As part of Perficient's Digital Health Strategy team, Michael partners with healthcare organizations to create informative, conversion-centered content for a variety of applications, including websites and blogs. Michael writes content that highlights clients’ service-line offerings, expertise in unique treatments, differentiators in competitive markets and additional factors that are important to patients.

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