May 25 2017 | 0 Comments | 218 reads Average Rating: 3.7

From Non-Compliant to Engaged: Personas Could Make the Difference

by David Hom in Life Sciences

Diabetes is all too common in the United States, with more than 29 million people suffering from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Modern approaches to diabetes care heavily rely upon lifestyle management. As such, diet, exercise and other lifestyle choices become key elements of successful treatment.

Therein lies the frustration. While it is relatively easy for healthcare clinicians to tell patients what they need to eat and how much they need to move to help control blood sugar levels, it’s another thing entirely to actually get patients to follow these instructions. Patient “personas” – or profiles that are developed based on a variety of data inputs and then applied to cohorts of individuals who share similar characteristics or attributes – can help.

Credit card and zip code data, for example, could shed light on how amenable certain diabetic patient personas are to actually heed diet and exercise instructions. For example:

  • Zip code data can also show factors such as the density of fast food restaurants in relation to organic food sellers –and, therefore, the challenges that some might face when trying to eat healthy.
  • Credit card information could shed light on whether or not patients are members at a gym, participate in 5K races or subscribe to outdoors magazines – all possible indicators of how likely they will be to act upon exercise advice.2
  • Purchasing histories that show patients buying generic foods could illustrate how cost conscious certain patients are.

All of this information could help clinicians go beyond simply telling patients to eat right and exercise – and create more tailored diabetes management plans. Similarly, personas could help other types of healthcare organizations take the right action as well. Personas could be used by payers to design health plans that take into account how potential members are likely to use various offerings such as ancillary dental or vision coverage. Life sciences companies could rely on personas to determine the best markets to target in order to increase sales of environmental allergy treatments. These are just a few of the ways that personas can come into play. Can you think of any others?

(Also, take a look at our recently published e-book chapter on personas and their role in value-based care. Download now: Using Actions to Create Insights That Improve Outcomes)


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.

2. Pagliuca, J, Patient Personas Can Help Drive Behaviour Change. Pharmaphorum, August 21, 2017.

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David Hom
Chief Evangelist

Dave is an internationally-recognized expert in the field of consumer engagement through programs such as Value Based Benefits and Employee Wellness.

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