February 8, 2017

Brave New World, Brave New Metrics: Why Engagement Analytics Matter in Value-Based Care

Image of a chart on a computer

A good product alone doesn’t always guarantee success. Today, marketers need to understand that successfully engaging with customers means providing helpful information, even if it doesn’t result in an immediate sale. This is true whether you’re offering consumer-packaged goods in retail stores or a new treatment option for healthcare professionals.

Value-based care has been a topic of discussion in the industry for a decade. Like healthcare professionals of all types, the pharmaceutical industry can’t avoid this paradigm shift. In this paradigm, patient centricity is key and engagement is the new king of marketing efficacy. When marketing moves beyond simply broadcasting information to actually engaging target audiences in meaningful interactions, we can provide true value and bolster the efficacy of our brands.

To do our jobs better — to more successfully engage — we need data that proves how well our offerings work. This means we need new, higher-quality metrics that measure performance more accurately.

This POV will explain how changes in the industry — data gathering and analysis capabilities, evolving use of mobile devices, and a move toward value-based care — all call for new measurements of success, ones based upon analytics.

Most consumers (as much as 82%) do online research before making a major — or even a minor — purchase. So it stands to reason that they want to do the same with their healthcare decisions. Millennials, now the most populous generation in the United States, are research-savvy and live a good part of their lives online. And though they may not be Yelping about their hospital experiences, we’re not a million miles away from that. This is where value-based care comes in. When patients consider your brand, will they see that it has made a difference?

Value-based care affects the patient journey because, now, brands have to tell a different, more holistic story than they did in the past. Clinical and safety attributes remain important, but now they are accompanied by information on cost, long-term results, support programs and more.

Since we’re planning a different journey with different messaging, we need to have different key performance indicators (KPIs). This is where engagement and engagement analytics come into play.

Most brand managers are accustomed to analytics dashboards that report on unique visits, dwell time and bounce rates. Those can be useful, helping to visualize who came to your site, what they did and where they went.

Five years ago, that dashboard or report would look fairly simple, perhaps like this:

Image of various graph

Today’s dashboards are far more complex, looking more like this:

Image of data representation

But it’s not enough to just have more data. What matters is whether we can draw true insight from the right information — we need smart data, not just Big Data.

In a world rapidly moving toward value-based care — in which long-term outcomes will soon likely be more important than the number of procedures performed or prescriptions written — an effective brand manager will need more information about their target audience: their demographics, location, providers, insurers, etc.

This is not to say that measurements of value-based care are the same as engagement analytics. Some may be applicable, but applied in different scenarios. However, to get a deeper, more powerful understanding and implement more effective care, the old metrics aren’t enough.

New metrics will help us understand what our target audience members are doing — for instance, data about device type, interaction type, or contextual interaction (voice or visual). In conjunction with cognitive machine learning, this information can make it possible for the tools we design to constantly improve their experience.

For instance: if we can tell that users are most likely to use one feature of an app, we can put that feature front and center. Going one step further, if we know that users are most likely to use one feature at home but another while in their doctor’s office — and if we could make the app location-responsive — it would be possible to give those users the best content at the right moment.

Logo of mobile

The popularity of mobile devices has led to an increase in voice-activated interfaces, along with the need to develop more responsive designs and location-specific content. We’re more capable than ever before of delivering personally optimized content. When we understand what users want to do, read and see on their devices — and how that differs from what they want to do, read and see on their computers — we can adjust what we provide accordingly.

These evolutions can lead to efficiency. If we glean insights from the information that we collect, we can better understand how to focus on what works best.

Once, we measured the same KPIs across all content. Today, we are learning that we must look at different KPIs based on device, content, purpose, etc. Vocal interaction (like Siri, Google, Alexa or other voice-activated tools) and virtual and augmented reality might need very different measurements than a webpage, for example. The most important website measurement might still be the number of unique visits. However, the success of a voice-activated tool might be better measured not by how many times it was used, but by how often the voice query led to a successful resolution — possibly leading to fewer queries, not more.

We need to not only educate and motivate, but engage and inspire — and we need to fully understand that “effective care” is evolving. It’s not enough for a provider to exchange a fee for a service or for a prescription to mitigate symptoms for a week. We need to be able to provide (and measure) enduring results; this is better for the patient and more cost-effective for the system.

The machine-learning world is making it easier than ever for consumers to get what they need from a variety of sources. In a world where our cell phone numbers are our new home address, we can get to customers right where they are through email, text and responsive websites. But we must understand that no brand can become an all-purpose destination and, therefore, determine how to be effective in a laser-targeted way.

Now is the time to revolutionize our approach to measurement if we want to make the right strategic decisions. Engagement metrics help us use technology to connect with increasingly savvy consumers.

It’s incumbent upon pharma marketers to understand how the shift to value-based medicine and engagement-focused metrics affects their work. This knowledge will impact business objectives, goals, KPIs and targets. Only then can we identify what success will look like and figure out what those parameters are.

Value-based care is changing our industry. New technology is changing how we reach our target audiences. And so, new metrics must be used to determine whether we’re succeeding.