Patient (Customer) Value – Social Dimension?

I was reading an interesting entry on Forrester’s Marketing Blog about redefining the value of your customer away from ROI to something that reflects their social value.  The author defines social value as:

1) A customer’s knowledge and involvement – in short, his level of expertise and interest in the category and brand. 

2)  How he participates, and the value of his connections – what social activities is he involved with (both on and offline) and where (on what networks is he active).  The value refers to the value of the connections themselves:  are the communities more tightly-knit or diffused, are they public or more intimite.

3) The number of contacts the customer has in each network. 

It made me think about two things: (1) how would we value a patient in healthcare and (2) how do we drive and evaluate social value.

Different constituents would value patients differently [these represent logical hypotheses but not fact]:

  • To a pharmacy, it is the high utilizer that they want.  And, they make the most money off a cash paying customer who buys generic drugs at something close to their AWP (Average Wholesale Price) which is about 70-90% too high.
  • To a PBM, it is the chronically sick patient who fills lots of drugs but is very active in their healthcare so they use the website, use mail, use generics, and don’t call customer service very often.
  • To a managed care company, their highest value customer (or patient) is the healthy individual who is insured so that they collect the premium but don’t actually pay anything out.
  • To the physician, their highest value patient is the sick consumer who needs specialized care which they have to provide (e.g., injections done by the physician).  In a capitated model, this is different because they want to create healthy patients and are incented to promote wellness.
  • To the hospital, their highest value patient is the insured patient who has a complex illness that requires lots of tests or who has an elongated hospital stay.

Driving and evaluating social value is a different animal.  I do believe that providers and insurers should be promoting communities of care where people with diseases can share experiences and information.  That will be a powerful tool in promoting consumerism.  A managed care company (e.g., United, Humana, Wellpoint, BCBS) has enough scale that they could create an anonymous discussion area for their covered lives which was moderated by an expert.  (Not too dissimilar to the disease specific pharmacies that Medco is creating with their Therapeutic Resource Centers.)

Assigning value is more difficult, but it could be a composite score of activity on the web, registration in certain groups, etc. It won’t be perfect, but it is clear that some people are outspoken advocates which can promote or hurt your brand.

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