The professors developed the idea of the “nudge” as a way for organizations to help people by making the smarter choice the easier choice.
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Improving preventative care is often discussed as critical to managing healthcare costs. Diagnosing disease early and encouraging healthy lifestyles benefits individuals and the healthcare industry. The challenge with preventative medicine is that it requires the individual to act. Clinicians and health plans can’t compel someone to come in for a check-up or eat healthier food. But while health plans may lack the authority to compel action, that doesn’t mean they lack effective means to encourage good behaviors.
Health plans can start by changing their engagement model. The most active engagement between a health plan and a member is when one is a patient or has a claim. That’s too narrow a focus. Instead, health plans should approach their members as customers. A customer engagement model directs attention to the quality of the customer experience and customer service.
Outside the healthcare realm, customers expect highly personalized experiences. Retailers use and data analysis to influence buying behavior and improve customer service. Health plans can also use to engage with their customers in a highly personalized context that helps them make better choices.
‘Nudging’ People Into Healthy Behaviors
Economist Richard Thaler, winner of a Nobel Prize in Economics, wrote Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness with law professor Cass Sunstein. Their analysis of human behavior showed that people will often make the easy choice, even when they know it’s not the smarter choice. We see this everywhere. We know we should exercise, but how many of us prefer to sleep in or stay online instead? It’s human nature.
The professors developed the idea of the “nudge” as a way for organizations to help people by making the smarter choice the easier choice. They define a nudge as “any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting the fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not.”
E-commerce retailers are masters of nudging. They use analysis on huge data sets to personalize messaging and recommendations. Like retailers, health plans have their own growing data collection. They are also well-suited to be the central data repository within the healthcare ecosystem. As such, health plans can reach out to their consumers — before they become patients — with hyper personalized nudges. […]