Segment by Behavior to Reach Today’s Health Care Consumer

Segment by Behavior to Reach Today’s Health Care Consumer

Source: Deloitte Leslie Read, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP; and Leslie Korenda, research manager, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions

People can have vastly different preferences and behaviors when it comes to health care. Recognizing and responding to these differences can help industry stakeholders more effectively target, attract, and retain consumers.

Every consumer makes decisions differently—whether choosing which movie to watch, what type of car to buy, or where to stay or eat during a vacation. Consumers also have varying approaches to determining which health plan offers the most appropriate coverage, when and where to seek care at a hospital, how to choose a doctor, and whether a pharmaceutical product or medical device offers value. What are these preferences, and how do they affect how today’s consumers manage their health care and interact with various industry stakeholders?

Seeking to answer that question, Deloitte’s Center for Health Solutions recently surveyed 4,530 U.S. individuals to assess their preferences, motivations, and actions when making decisions about health insurance, health care, and well-being. A segmentation analysis of this data, concentrating on health care attitudes and behaviors, offers a far richer understanding of consumers than analysis based solely on demographics or health status, the focus of many health care segmentations in the past. Why? Segmentation can provide marketers and other health care leaders interested in influencing consumer behavior with insights into why and how people make decisions—important data as the industry continues to move toward a more patient-centered approach. Grouping consumers in this way can provide a more refined approach to understanding them as they move through different stages of the patient journey.

A good segmentation provides meaningful and actionable insights, enabling health care stakeholders to:

  • Understand why certain consumers choose them, while others select a competitor or opt not to make a health care decision at all.
  • Identify which consumers to target, develop strategies to attract them, and determine how to retain them.
  • Influence broader consumer health care engagement behaviors. Effective segmentation can do more than just attract consumers to a particular health plan or system—it can help health care stakeholders guide consumers toward overall healthy behaviors, such as medication adherence or participation in clinical programs.

4 Behavioral Profiles

A segmentation analysis of Deloitte’s survey respondents suggests that consumers generally fall into four distinct groups that reflect the differences in their health care preferences and behaviors. Given its changing—and sometimes unknown—landscape, today’s U.S. health care system is in some ways like the Wild West. With rapidly evolving technologies and ongoing legislative reform, the industry in the coming years likely will present health care organizations and consumers alike with the opportunities and challenges of uncharted territory. With this metaphor in mind, the survey authors used archetypes associated with that era to describe the results of the segmentation. Each of these four groups has particular needs and expectations and navigates the health care system differently:

Trailblazers rely heavily on technology to make health care decisions, access care, and track health and wellness. The youngest and highest-income segment, this group is likely to use quality rankings, reviews, report cards, or scorecards for evaluating physicians, hospitals, and health insurance companies. Trailblazers are likely to switch providers or health plans if expectations are not met. Of the four segments, this group is the most willing to share personal data from wearables and apps and the most likely to consider at-home genetic and diagnostic testing. This data could be harnessed to help health plans, pharmaceutical companies, and technology developers understand the consumer experience, identify unmet needs, and improve products and services.

To connect with Trailblazers, health care stakeholders can seek to offer high-quality virtual office visits and create a seamless technology experience overall. Providing digital platforms and apps to simplify common activities—such as scheduling appointments, accessing personal health information, refilling prescriptions, and managing appointments—could help build loyalty and enhance the patient experience.

Prospectors rely on recommendations from friends and family, use providers as trusted advisors, and are the second-most-likely segment to use technology to monitor health and measure fitness. They are willing to try virtual care visits and rank in the middle when it comes to following a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

To connect with this segment, stakeholders can seek to tap into social and patient advocacy groups to better understand patient and caregiver concerns, gather feedback, and improve quality of care. They can also seek to leverage the patient-clinician relationship by demonstrating the value of their solutions to clinicians. Last, stakeholders can promote wearable fitness and health-monitoring devices to Prospectors, since they are more likely than some other segments to use these technologies.

Homesteaders are reserved, cautious traditionalists. They tend not to be as concerned about out-of-pocket costs or quality ratings as the other groups and make decisions based largely on convenience. Homesteaders are unlikely currently to use virtual care or technology to monitor health but are somewhat interested in using it in the future. They do not have a strong wellness routine at home but are high utilizers of primary care visits.

To connect with Homesteaders, stakeholders can make access to health care more convenient, for example by offering off-hour appointments in the evening or early morning hours on certain days. Stakeholders also can seek to collaborate with patients, engaging them in shared decision-making on treatment options and strategies to improve healthy behaviors. Homesteaders are not completely opposed to using technology but may need extra assistance learning how to use tools, technologies, or digital platforms. Stakeholders can seek to coordinate with each other when offering such support services.

Bystanders are highly unlikely to use technology for health care, generally don’t trust the health care system, and are not interested in quality ratings or in sharing personal information to improve health. They are resistant to changing health behaviors and typically are unwilling to switch providers or health plans, even when dissatisfied.

To connect with Bystanders, stakeholders can seek to involve a formal or informal caregiver (such as a home nurse, family member, or friend or advocate) who could encourage Bystanders to engage in their health. Stakeholders also could leverage community organizations to distribute information—for example, encouraging Bystanders to get flu shots and vaccines at a community pop-up, get information about diabetes or stroke prevention from the local barber shop, participate in mobile screenings at their local grocery store, or partake in healthy eating education at church potlucks. Life sciences companies and physicians can work together to better understand what drives medication non-adherence in Bystander sub-populations and tailor solutions accordingly.


As the health care industry and consumer preferences continue to change, segmentation likely will be a critical tool for marketers and other health care leaders looking to more effectively engage consumers. By understanding people’s attitudes and behaviors at every step of the health care journey, organizations can better position themselves to deliver a more personalized health care experience and, ultimately, better outcomes.