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Healthcare Stakeholders – Sustaining Engagement (part 2)

This article is the second of two articles focused on the various aspects of Engagement. In the previous article we discuss the principles of engagement and the impacts on how, when and where people choose to engage. In other words initiating engagement. In this second article we address the challenges of keeping people engaged over the longer term, that is sustaining engagement.

Understanding Engagement

In the previous article we discussed the principles of engagement and the impacts on how, when and where people choose to engage. In other words initiating engagement. In this article we address the challenge of keeping people engaged over the longer term, that is sustaining engagement.

Sustained engagement comes from taking a multi-layered approach to the application of the Elements of engagement each outlined below. Communications direct and amplify engagement to achieve the desired goals of influencing and motivating positive behaviour and behaviour change. Understanding the rhythms and pace of engagement is very important. For example long-term reward may not be satisfying because I’m not getting enough of a ‘dopamine rush’. This makes long-term planning around engagement very difficult. Sustained engagement is key to commitment and demonstrates the value of creating messages that genuinely resonate with the target audience such as different patients groups.

The multi-layered approach requires a deep analysis of the universal biases, needs, wants and likes of the people you are trying to engage to take the desired actions. It creates a blueprint for action across a range of categories, industries and environments.

19 Elements of Engagement

Access – relates to how easy something is to obtain. When faced with a range of choices, people’s selection is most often based on convenience and availability. Access captures engagement.
Aesthetics – we are visual beings our eyes are the primary channel through which we receive information. Closely linked to ‘associations’, aesthetics capture engagement.
Associations – Connections with indirect memories, whether positive or negative, capture engagement. Associations are most often subconscious and can traverse multiple senses.
Belonging – is about familiarity. It is a social habit and requires group acceptance. It builds engagement over a prolonged period of time.
Desire – is a hole that needs to be filled, driven by a sense of lacking. The brain seeks and anticipates rewards. Desire is a ‘subconscious want’ that captures engagement.
Empathy – the ability to relate to another person’s situation, feelings or experiences is a fundamental human trait. Empathy is a subconscious process that builds engagement.
Enhancement – self-improvement is a fundamental human motivator. Enhancement is about improvement relative to social environment. It is often connected to status and enhanced by competition. Enhancement can either capture engagement (technology upgrade) or build engagement over time (learning a skill and acquiring knowledge).
Escape – reality is complex. Escape transports people away from physical and psychological realities. It both captures and builds engagement.
Experience – connections with direct memories, whether positive or negative, affect engagement. Bad memories halt engagement. Good experiences encourage repeat engagement.
Herd Behaviour – people follow the crowd, adhere to social norms and take subconscious leads from others. Herd behaviour can either be the spark that captures engagement, or the tool that builds it.
Integrity – is about honesty and commitment. Over a period of time, integrity results from delivery of defined principles and promises (shared values), even in the face of temptation. Integrity builds trust and engagement.
Intrigue – results from being given an incomplete picture. It is an invitation to fill in the blanks. The unknown sparks curiosity, driven by fear of missing out (FOMO). Porous communications absorb audiences. Intrigue can both capture and build engagement.
Involvement – is developed through ownership or investment of either effort, time or money. Through involvement, a product or brand becomes a small part of the investor. Involvement is a subconscious process which builds over time.
Meaning – gives people a direction, a sense of purpose or a reason for being. Meaning builds repeat engagement.
Newness – anything new, original or innovative stands out from the crowd. Newness captures attention and engages people in the short term.
Pleasure – is the sensory experience resulting from a stimulus. Pleasure happens after the ‘wanting’. It is subconscious and maintains engagement.
Respect – is about achievement and requires mutually shared values. It develops from an
individual’s recognition of another’s feats in delivering a common goal. Respect inspires.
Shared Values – the mutual pursuit of goals. Shared values are considered, rational and build long-term engagement.
Social Totems – these provide commonality for social interaction, allowing people who have little in common to share something. Social totems capture engagement.

Sustained Engagement Benefits Healthcare

In the digital world of today engagement is quick to obtain, but also quick to lose. Long-term engagement is a far more difficult challenge. Consumer loyalty is lower today than we have seen before, requires far more effort and familiarity with and use of continually evolving methodologies just to keep pace with expectations.

Digital technology provides the means to communicate with patients and healthcare professionals in ways that both groups find personally convenient and easily accessible. Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo allow qualified researchers to assemble relevant knowledge and provide information that is personalised and resonates with each individual’s circumstances. Communications software enable the sharing of the Right information at the Right time through the Right Channels to the Right people. This capability creates the opportunity to more effectively educate and empower patients to take their share of responsibility to improving outcomes and better self manage their health.

Today’s communication technology provides various approaches and channels to regularly communicate with and engage the public on health issues. Such regular tailored communication with the public facilitates improvements in health literacy, that is understanding of basic health information. Improving peoples’ health literacy has been repeatedly shown and will continue to reduce healthcare services delivery costs. This will help alleviate many of the challenges facing every health system such as the global shortage of healthcare workers, continually increasing demand, over stretched resources and unsustainable increases in spending.

Research has shown that improving health literacy through engagement motivates patients to be more active participants in their healthcare acting more in partnership with their healthcare professionals. Nurturing this partnership through ongoing and long term engagement practices yields lasting and wide ranging benefits for all the stakeholders across the healthcare spectrum.

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