Caring or Creepy: Finding the Sweet Spot for Health Care Personalization

Remember when – in the not so distant past – you were first remarketed to via a banner ad after leaving an ecommerce site? My gut reaction was a mix of creep and awe: How did they do this? What else do they know about me? And, yes, I guess I DO want to buy that new outdoor rug!

Personalized marketing has come a long way since then. We accept that the brands we engage with know a lot about us – and in many cases, we really appreciate that they know us so well. Personally, I enjoy that Nordstrom wants to recommend the right sandals for me. And Trip Advisor, you really get me and my love for beach vacations. But, when it comes to interactions with health care brands, the subject of personalization is a much more sensitive one.

We recently set out to learn more about people’s perceptions of personalization within health care apps and marketing. Working with Hanover Research, an independent market research firm, we surveyed 568 people and discovered that there is fine line between what people consider caring…and what they’d deem totally creepy. (You can access the white paper based on the research here.)

Below are a few big takeaways from the research.

  1. There is a strong correlation between familiarity with a personalized tool and a person’s level of comfort with it.
  • Respondents are least likely to consider telehealth (40%) and personalized fitness/wellness apps and programs (43%) caring, but only 22% and 35% of respondents have access to these tools, respectively.
  • Conversely, respondents are most likely to have access to tools that help them view results, review policy details, manage prescriptions and find doctors. Respondents also consider these among the most caring tools.
  • Out-of-pocket cost estimators are the biggest outlier on the familiarity vs. creepy curve, suggesting that relative to how often users have engaged with it, they find this tool disproportionately caring.
  1. We found that respondents are most comfortable with personalized communications from doctors, who are also considered the most trustworthy source for cost estimates in our survey. Which explains why 74% of respondents also use doctor recommendations when making health care decisions and consider them most influential in the process.
  2. Scenarios where an individual’s online activity (e.g., browsing data, hobbies, Google/WebMD) is used to provide predictive analytics and/or recommendations by a health plan is deemed creepy by our survey respondents. Conversely, respondents find it caring when their health plan tailors services according to their health history.
  3. When health care communication is personalized, our survey respondents stated that they were more likely than not to take action. Respondents are also more likely than not to agree that personalization builds trust with the source it is coming from.

Want to learn more about what people find creepy when it comes to personalization in health care? Download our new white paper, “Caring or Creepy: What Today’s Consumers Think About Data-Driven Health Care,” that includes many of Hanover’s findings. As a bonus, you’ll also get a quick list of personalization dos and don’ts so you can work on finding the sweet spot for your personalization efforts!