In part one and part two of this series, we overviewed our methodology and the evidence of behavior change impact that we found as it relates to the goals of six types of health care stakeholders. In part three, we’ll give our parting thoughts on what was missing from our research results and where we should go from here as an industry.
Evidence of the impacts of patient behavior change on stakeholder goals varied by stakeholder, revealing that some groups may have more to gain than others across different behavior changes.
What was missing?
We saw a lack of comprehensive studies that can provide meaningful and robust evidence, which made it challenging to compare behaviors across different studies.
Evidence of episodic care behavior change impact: Although we included episodic medication and treatment plan adherence behavior changes in the scope of our research, we found minimal evidence of behavior change impact on stakeholder goals. In terms of pre-treatment care, most studies we identified were conducted outside of the United States, particularly in countries with long-standing, publicly funded health systems (e.g., Canada, Germany). A greater emphasis on pre-treatment care to speed up patient recovery and increase provider capacity after episodic care could explain the greater magnitude of non-U.S. studies on the subject, as freeing up provider capacity is often a primary goal of publicly funded health systems.
Evidence of behavior change impact on digital health company goals: While we found only limited evidence of an impact of patient behavior change on digital health company goals, there has been recent growth in digital health companies focused on driving behavior change. Several studies have examined how these digital interventions drive behavior change, but none in our research focused on the impact of those behavior changes on digital health companies. As many behaviors—such as primary care use, exercise, and emotional management—become more digitally enabled, we expect behavior changes to increase digital health product demand and in turn, to increase revenue. We will continue to monitor for evidence of this.
Where do we go from here?
This research serves as a directional guide to help stakeholders prioritize which patient behavior changes to focus efforts on, based on which currently have the greatest evidence for advancing each stakeholder’s respective goals. But more research on the impact of behavior changes on stakeholder goals to further refine our prioritization efforts would be beneficial.
As previously mentioned, prioritizing patient behaviors should be step one of driving behavior change among patient consumers. Leaders will also have to evaluate which strategies are best positioned to inflect behavior change. This may require not only a similarly thorough meta-analysis, but also a determination of what is most feasible from an investment and implementation standpoint. It is also important to keep in mind that strategies will not be about just prompting patients to act differently, but also reducing barriers that prevent them from engaging in certain behavior changes (e.g., reducing the high cost of medications to improve medication adherence). An additional step in this process will involve identifying which stakeholders are best positioned to implement strategies and forming partnerships accordingly.
Behavior change is a relatively new concept in the field of health care. But based on the evidence, targeting specific patient behaviors can be a rich source of opportunity for many stakeholders to both achieve their goals and improve health care delivery and outcomes for years to come. The road to most patients engaging in ideal health behaviors is long, so organizations should begin discussions about prioritization now.