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Why Simplification Is the New Personalization

By Anjali Jameson | November 8, 2018 | Rally Health

Many of your employees are probably already trying to run the good-health race. And, for the most part, they know what they should be doing: eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep, to name just a few to-do’s. But there are hurdles along the way: time and financial pressures, daily distractions, conflicting advice, and any number of things they’d rather be doing instead. There are also individual health care histories and conditions involved.

Enter “personalization.” Many digital health sites now offer personalized messages that tell people what they need to do, whether it’s quitting smoking or making a colonoscopy appointment. And the promise of that targeted to-do is undeniable. Everyone wants personalized care from their providers; in fact, that’s the No. 1 priority among health care consumers, according to Deloitte. But behind this idea of personalization is the assumption that if consumers get targeted information about how to take better care of their health, they will act on that information.

Unfortunately, reality doesn’t match up with that idea. Consider someone’s annual visit to their primary care physician. That doctor has a wealth of information about the patient’s history, conditions, and latest test results. The physician looks at all of that information and makes personalized recommendations. “It’s time to lose 10 pounds,” for instance. So the patient goes home and immediately starts up a diet heavy on fruits and vegetables and light on sugars and fats … except, of course, that isn’t what happens.

Like that primary care physician, a lot of so-called personalized messages from digital health sites make absolutely sound recommendations. But just because a message is personalized doesn’t make it effective.

From Advice to Action

Almost 40 percent of adults in the US are obese, which can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other causes of preventable death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The problem isn’t a lack of awareness of the obesity epidemic, or even motivation to stem it. The hard part is turning knowledge into action.

The trick is not what to do but how to do it — how to help consumers take personalized health recommendations and implement them in their own lives. At Rally HealthSM, our idea of personalization means making it significantly easier for people to turn motivation into behavior, to turn recommendations into action. Research backs up that approach: Neuroscientists have found that even when people are flush with motivation they struggle to make healthy changes because our brains are naturally conditioned to choose the easiest route. Increasing follow-through, then, is more about making the action easy than supercharging someone’s motivation.

That’s exactly how successful apps work. Take Instagram, for example. People already were sharing photos online before Instagram launched in 2010. Instagram just made it much easier for them to do so — and, as a result, photo-sharing exploded.

If we want people to live their healthiest lives, the answer isn’t just to keep telling them that they should do something. If a 55-year-old man with diabetes receives a personalized email telling him he’s way past due for his annual checkup, why would he make that appointment today if he didn’t make one yesterday, or last month? Sure, he wants to do the right thing for himself and his family. Still, he hasn’t.

To solve that problem, we need to extend our focus from personalization to helping people take greater action. What if — instead of a barrage of static emails urging him to get a checkup — that consumer got one email with a clearly marked button that allowed him to quickly find a primary care physician and book an appointment? Rally Health lets patients do that, and so much more.

Path of No Resistance

Because Rally Health is deeply connected to all corners of the health care ecosystem, closely partnering with payers, providers, and employers, we’re able to cut through the overwhelming complexity that people face and offer a personalized platform that spans every step of their journey and is easy to use.

That means we don’t just send an email encouraging people to improve their health and then expect them to find a physician, schedule an appointment, determine how much a procedure will cost, and navigate benefits on their own. Many customers don’t know how or where to find that information. More to the point, the time and effort it requires is probably what keeps that personalized to-do item at the bottom of their lists.

Rally Health focuses on simplifying those actions so people can effortlessly make changes. For consumers, that starts with a streamlined, intuitive platform that’s both easy to navigate and remarkably robust. They can move seamlessly from personalized insights and messaging to immediately following through on their action items, whether that’s starting a smoking cessation program, scheduling a mammogram, or finding an in-network specialist accepting new patients.

And because everything happens in one integrated hub, there’s no need for multiple logins for separate health sites. There’s no disappointment when someone spends hours finding a provider or program, only to realize later that their benefits aren’t a match. In other words, offering one easy-to-use platform creates fewer friction points and helps prevent people from losing momentum or getting discouraged.

We can all keep yelling at the tired, beleaguered runners trying to make their way in the good-health race. We can keep shouting that they need to jump over the hurdles on the track. Or, like Rally Health, we can help remove those hurdles and get them to the finish line.

Anjali Jameson is vice president of product at Rally Health, Inc.

Rally® is the only truly integrated health care platform that unites benefits, wellness, medical care, and rewards in a single, intuitive experience. It is the proven choice implemented by more than 200,000 employers, including 47 percent of the Fortune 500. If you’d like to learn more about how to simplify heath care for your employees, contact rallysales@rallyhealth.com.

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Anjali Jameson
Rally Health