What Influences Patient Decision Making? 10 Factors to Considers

Patient decision-making is a complicated journey. Sometimes you fail to make patients take desirable action because they were looking for something different. Sadly, it was hard to capture why a patient makes or breaks a healthcare decision after launching a healthcare campaign. Because of that, we collect 10 factors that impact patient decision-making, so you diagnose patients’ behavior more accurately and get well-prepared for your patient education plan. 

10 factors impacting patient decision making

1. Patient’s personal information factors

When we stepped into the patient education industry for the first time, we defined “healthcare decision-making” as “clinical decisions.” There would be a series of symptoms; if you earn a tick with each, you should go for some treatments. But it turned out to be quite a narrow definition. Because patient decision-making is also based on non-clinical factors, you, as a healthcare communication manager, could find a new creative space for education strategy.

  • Socioeconomic status: 

The factor impacts patients’ willingness to pay. For example, a patient who suffers from financial difficulty may choose medicine instead of a surgeon. 

  • Age: 

Some diseases are more popular with a particular age group. That’s the reason why we observe different behaviors in decision-making. Gen Z, adolescents approach their health issues differently than the older generation. They consume various media, information types, etc. 

In the below video, F.Learning educates children about mental health. Since the target audience and the topic are very sensitive, we create child-friendly characters and put them in a cartoon story. Instead of using mental health jargon, we transfer it into daily situations such as school days to make children aware of their issues. 

  • Gender: 

Healthcare issues are also different depending on gender, which leads to varying behaviors in health needs and the use of healthcare providers. For example, according to Value Penguin research, women spend more on health insurance than men, even during their age and income breakdown period. 

But there are other factors; women have more power in healthcare decisions for themselves and others. They visit doctors more frequently than men and seek child care, preventive healthcare, or nutrition care. What do these mean for Healthcare Communication Manager? They suggest that women are potential audiences for healthcare campaigns, but they are very careful when skimming healthcare information. That’s why you should explore how women perceive health issues to choose a suitable viewpoint for patient communication. 

  • Adherence level to treatment: 

There are two types of patients: one who follows a treatment roadmap strictly and one who doesn’t. The patient may know that staying up late is a bad habit, but they cannot stop themselves from doing so.

  • Wishes and preferences: 

We bet you saw many patients go against treatment because of their preferences or the inconvenience in their daily life. A patient who is diagnosed with diabetes loves sweet foods. If you launch a healthcare campaign that targets the audience from “wishes and preferences” viewpoints, ensure that you draw a particular desirable action and the journey leading patients to that action. 

Think of the last time you visited hospitals. What was the first thing you considered? It’s all about your healthcare providers. It may be your doctor, hospital, or other healthcare products/services you are told to use. In this part, we won’t mention clinical factors; we want to discuss some side factors that are commonly ignored:

  • Doctor/ Physician personal information (age, gender, culture, faith, race): 

The difference between the life of a doctor and a patient raises different emotions, perspectives, and communication. Thus, patients easily become passive-aggressive, impacting their treatment adherence. That’s where healthcare communication comes in to bridge the gap.

  • Time constraints and workload: 

Hospitals are full of people, and physicians are busy. Sometimes, they have only 10 minutes for a patient. The disease is a dull and dry topic; imagine how hard it can be if we talk to a non-expert in such a short period. It’s hard for patients to follow what doctors say, process information, and ask questions. In this situation, a medium that explains health symptoms and treatment easily in under 3 minutes may help. Like the below example of heart failure: 

  • Professional interaction (relationship with colleagues, staff, pharma industry): 

Let’s say you seek a doctor. Would you choose one who has 5 years of experience or more? Healthcare is all about reputation. Patients tend to visit physicians that are referred to them. In this case, patients will make decisions based on their trust bank with doctors. Thus, a healthcare campaign collaborating with a high reputation physician may gain trust. 

3. Other factors

  • Family members: 

During suffering pain, patients rely on their family members to seek motivation and make shared decision-making. Or, in some special cases, like patients taking care of their sick children, they will make direct healthcare decisions. From the healthcare communication viewpoint, educating healthcare patient family members is also essential. For example, creating content motivates family members to be aware of the patient’s changes. 

  • Cultural differences: 

Cultural differences impact patients’ openness to share their healthcare issues. These decision-making factors commonly happen in healthcare communication campaign that needs localization. Our solution for the situation is to conduct surveys to figure out the root causes. What do patients care about? What is the biggest obstacle preventing them from reaching treatments? You can motivate patients by turning their worries into social norms when you find insights.

What about you? Do you know any factors that impact how patients choose healthcare options? Please share with us. 

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