CRM Best Practices

Personas and Patient Pathways


Hospital marketers constantly communicate with thousands of healthcare consumers, addressing their concerns and hoping to guide them on the proper care journey. For their communications to resonate — and to increase the odds of conversions — marketers must personalize their messages. As meeting face to face with each recipient is far from feasible, hospitals need to find effective ways to understand a broad scope of consumers at an individual level. Ultimately, the goal is to tailor unique messaging to the consumers’ specific care needs.

By creating personas, your organization can better understand personalization on a large scale, which can help you identify where consumers are on the patient pathway and how best to nurture them.

In this installment of our series on healthcare CRM best practices, we’ll discuss personas and patient pathways and how beneficial these concepts can be for healthcare marketers.

What are a persona and a patient pathway?

A persona is a generalized group of individuals who share goals, needs, and behavior patterns, according to collected consumer and patient data. Gender, age, income, and lifestyle factors are among the basic demographic details that are typically analyzed to better understand consumers collected under a persona. The patient pathway is the route a healthcare consumer takes from the moment they come in contact with the hospital or health system, up until the completion of their treatment. Essentially, it is a timeline of the patient experience.

How can these concepts help hospital marketers?

By creating personas for patients, you can segment consumers efficiently based on the collected demographic data. Personas give marketing teams a better opportunity to understand the people they’re speaking to, which allows them to target the correct individuals and personalize their care information properly. This reduces wasted costs, time, and effort.

Personas also allow you to better anticipate the type of treatment a patient will need, thus establishing expectations for the patient pathway. You can keep the patient informed with personalized messages about what they can expect from their initial encounters, the treatment itself, and aftercare.

Building patient pathways gives marketers options when determining which messages will best resonate with a consumer. A clear understanding of the ways a consumer enters the health system, and how patients navigate that system based on their care needs, is a vital piece of marketing intelligence. When you not only customize your message to a persona, but also map it to the patient’s current or upcoming episode of care, you are showing the patient that you truly care about their needs.

How can CRM make defining personas and patient pathways easier?

A sophisticated CRM platform has powerful data-aggregation capabilities, which grant hospital marketing teams more opportunities to accurately identify which consumers are most likely to need a particular procedure. For example, a consumer who will eventually receive a knee replacement may experience a precursor symptom such as joint pain or swelling. This systematic discomfort and pain marks the first step on the consumer’s journey, even though a diagnosis will not be made until later. Collecting and analyzing consumer data helps you provide valuable information and identify patient pathways accurately and efficiently.

The knee-replacement candidate would likely next be diagnosed with arthritis, and then perhaps try alternative therapy to relieve the condition. Subsequently, the patient may be tested to determine whether surgery is the appropriate next step. The final phase of the patient pathway would involve surgery and rehab. A quality CRM solution allows hospital marketers to use all of this data to create personas and helps them identify and map out similar patient pathways in the future.

After assessing patient personas and understanding where healthcare consumers fall along a patient pathway, hospital marketers can gear their efforts specifically toward an individual, to deliver more relevant and engaging messages — and consequently more effective care.

Learn more about Personas and Patient Pathways.

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Read the next installment of this series: Personalization 101 >>

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