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The Empowered Patient

June 1, 2010
Posted by Georgia Relich

James Burroughs at UofV specializes in marketing and consumer psychology and behavior.  He designed a study to identify the traits and habits of a person who feels empowered to take a lead role in managing his or her health care. The most interesting part of the study for me, as a marketer, was what motivates an empowered patient and the recommendations Burroughs offers up to see if our materials are resonating with these patients.  In a nutshell, a need for cognition drives the empowered patient; education, income and source of health insurance had no effect on a patient’s ownership of his or her health (personality traits seem to play a stronger role in empowerment); empowered patients are leading the way online–they are more likely to use text messaging; they prefer a combination of printed education materials and websites over tv and magazine ads; and this group is the most demanding but the most loyal.

The tips for marketing to the empowered patient–the one who will most likely be loyal and win over other patients:

1.  Look at the ratio of quantity of information and return on information. Empowered patients want just enough information to make a good decision but not so much that it’s overwhelming.

2. Watch out for complexity and redundancy.

3. Consider style. Don’t talk down to them.

4. Watch out for patronizing tone and fit with personal experience.

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