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The Untapped Potential of Consumer Analytics in the Behavioral Health Industry

Behavioral health is a topic that wasn’t top of mind for many in the healthcare industry just a few short decades ago. But as a growing body of research points to the prevalence of behavioral health disorders and the link between behavioral health and chronic disease, healthcare organizations have started to take notice.

Consumers are also beginning to pay more attention to their behavioral healthcare needs. For example, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in the early days of COVID-19 lockdowns found that 45% of American adults surveyed reported that the pandemic was taking a toll on their mental health. Many of these adults took action. Teledoc Health reported that the number of people age 18-30 seeking mental healthcare through their virtual channels doubled in March and April of 2020. 

These shifts signal an industry on the brink of tremendous growth. However, just because the need is great doesn’t mean that behavioral health organizations can simply open facilities on every street corner. As behavioral health services begin to expand, it’s critical to do so in a way that lays a foundation for success for decades to come.

The Right Approach to Growth and How Consumer Analytics Can Help

Healthcare organizations seeking a thoughtful growth strategy for behavioral health services may find a surprising source of insights in technology and research methodologies first used in the retail industry: consumer analytics. 

The goal of consumer analytics is to understand the differences in consumers with high and low likelihoods of becoming a customer. When combined with other variables, the insights have a wide range of applications.

Consumer analytics has made a difference in business strategies used by organizations in many industries, starting first in retail and later in certain healthcare specialties. However, it has been largely untapped in the behavioral healthcare space.

Here are two applications of consumer analytics that behavioral health organizations should consider when developing their growth strategies.

1. Defining the Types of Consumers Most Likely to Seek Help

The healthcare industry generally has solid data on the underlying medical conditions and the demographics of consumers diagnosed with certain conditions. However, this information does not address a critical question for any behavioral healthcare organization: which consumers are more likely to develop behavioral health disorders and seek treatment? More specifically, which consumers are more likely to seek treatment from my facilities versus a competitor’s facilities?

Consumer analytics marries basic demographic data with robust data on consumer psychographics – also referred to as lifestyle data. Together, these data sources paint a more complete picture of the people choosing to seek care. It gives organizations insights into patient lifestyles and communication preferences. It also allows organizations to visualize where concentrations of similar consumers are located.

2. Optimizing Facility Placement Decisions

Once the consumer profile has been established, this information can be combined with other variables associated with facility performance to create a statistical scoring model. This may include projected medical demand for behavioral health services in a geographic area, the existing supply of behavioral health providers in the area, payer mix, area traffic drivers or presence of favorable cotenants, and more.

The model allows users to quickly score addresses to determine whether those locations present the right opportunities for a behavioral health facility. It can also be used to score existing facilities to better understand the factors that are influencing performance (e.g. a high competition score) and identify facilities that may perform better if relocated.

The Bottom Line

The behavioral health industry has tremendous growth opportunities ahead. Consumer analytics can help to define the right strategy to bring services to the areas that need it most and create a solid foundation for future success.

To learn more about how Buxton’s consumer analytics help the healthcare industry make important business decisions, check out our industry overview

Journey Awareness Persona C-Suite/Finance Real Estate Strategy/Facilities Healthcare