I know some friends who will make a doctor’s appointment when they get a paper cut. I also know some people who will have something like a gaping head wound and say, “Oh I’ll just take some ibu profen and sleep it off.” Me? I avoid doctors and hospitals until I am almost near death, and then go into panic mode and contact every doctor in the county.
For health care marketers, knowing where people are sick is a useful data point. It helps them discover which illnesses are more common in which regions. As a part of Ad Age’s American Consumer Project, Ad Age and GfKMRI ran 25,000 household survey data through Patchwork Nation Segments. A map of disease prevalence by county was created. Conditions such as rosacea, ulcers, high cholesterol, arthritis, cancer and diabetes were included.
Looking at geographic and behavioral differences, they found that certain areas are more prone to certain diseases. For example, in Saint Louis County, rosacea and skin disease is most widespread. Saint Louis is considered to be a “Monied ‘Burbs” county – a wealthy, highly educated community with an average household income of $15,000 above the national county average. Boone County, Missouri’s most dominant condition is muscle strain/sprain.
Like it says in the article, what’s most important is how the residents REACT and what they DO when they are sick. This is critical for healthcare marketers trying to figure out how to best reach target markets. In addition, total spending on health-related categories has risen since 2000 and Millennials in their 20s are spending 78% more than the baby boomers did when they were in their 20s.
Referencing the dataset, residents of counties called the “Minority Central” segment are more likely to suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). There was a correlation found between socioeconomic status and the disease. Those with lower education and income were more likely to be afflicted by IBS. According to the GfKMRI data, this segment is also much more likely to use a branded prescription medication than a generic version. They’re less likely to consider health costs when budgeting. It was also discovered that they’re more likely to research symptoms and cures by asking their physicians and doctors rather than looking up cures on the Internet.
Information on the actions and behaviors of these various market segments can be observed and analyzed. It’ll bring more insight on how to reach them. Marketers can determine if people consider healthcare costs when they’re creating a household budget, if they want messages from their doctors about new alternatives for treatment or prescription reminders, if they go to the doctors regularly, how they’d like to receive communications about health care (mail, phone, mobile alerts, etc) or even just if they believe medication can improve their quality of life. These are the types of questions that the study looked into and while the research does make generalizations about the various counties, it can be incredibly useful to health care marketers.