Behavioral Analytics: Healthcare Providers and the Communities they Serve
A Changing Landscape
Looking through the lens of the average patient, healthcare might take on a meaning that seems rather inconsistent with the capitalist idea of consumerism and a consumer’s agency to make choices. If, however, we reframe the discussion and focus on the average patient as a consumer, looking through that lens, what might we find?
In teasing apart the word healthcare, two components emerge – rather obvious, really. Healthcare includes health (as in maintaining one’s health, wellness, and well-being), and care (as in active engagement in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of symptoms). As a consumer with agency to choose, I submit that health is a product of choice; care is a product of circumstance.
Healthcare has traditionally focused on engaging consumers as patients only after a need has arisen that requires attention – the delivery of treatment or care. When providers and patients fail to communicate until after the choice of health has given way to the need for care, innumerable opportunities to facilitate health and well-being are lost. The opportunity to avoid disease states that are avoidable has been squandered.
In essence, healthcare operates distinctly as a post-illness event management solution, not a preventative, wellness-focused endeavor. With limited access to the right information at the right time and place, healthcare consumers lack the necessary information to intelligently exercise their agency in ways that facilitate health and wellness.
The decisions a person makes outside of the doctor’s office: what to eat for breakfast, when to go to bed, whether or not to take their medication—these are the moments that make up a consumer’s life and health journey. People do not stop needing healthcare when they leave a hospital bed, and most Americans are eager for guidance. In 2017, 78% of Americans reported that they face conflicting information about “healthy choices,” while 56% indicated that this confusion affects their decision making process (International Food Information Council Foundation's annual Food and Health survey
This confusion about how to live healthy lives has led the United States to have some of the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease of any nation in the world. Should such a trend continue unabated, the health of future generations will decline while the cost of healthcare increases. And paradoxically, the driver of such negative trends is readily preventable