5 Data Points That Give Coaches Engagement Superpowers

This post outlines 5 specific pieces of knowledge that you can use help each member understand and internalize their reasons for engaging with you.

by Phil Beene
Co-Founder & President at Nudge, Host of The Nudgecast

Any health coach or care manager working with consumers today can tell you, it isn't easy to keep people engaged when it comes to health improvement programs.

But what if the biggest reason engagement is so difficult is that professionals don't know enough about the members they serve to build an engaging connection?

I think it is, and that's why I'm sharing the 5 data points that we have found best empower you to be effective in your member engagement efforts.

Note:  These 5 data points come from behavioral science research and our hands-on work with health consumers and our partners over the years. They make up one part of a powerful end-to-end approach that we are building into our work within the Outreach-to-Engagement Leadership Learning Labs ("OEL3") that we will formally open for collaborative partners soon.

 

Engagement Multiplier #1

"The Why"

"The Why" is how we refer to gathering an understanding of what is truly important to the individual with whom you're working.

 
Engagement Multiplier The Why
 

Each member's "Why" is unique to them and may seem to have very little to do with the specific condition or health aspiration.

For example, through asking the right questions you may discover that a patient with a heart condition is motivated by the idea of dancing with his daughter at her wedding.

While, another patient with a similar heart condition may find motivation in their goal to continue singing in the choir for years to come.

"The Why" should be referred back to regularly in communications with the member to remind them how much you care, and why the behavioral choice is relevant to their personal health aspirations.

 

Engagement Multipler #2

"Readiness Stage"

"Readiness Stage" is a concept from the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change that categorizes individuals based on how prepared (or unprepared) they are to take action towards a specific behavioral change.

 
Engagement Multiplier Readiness Stage
 

If you've ever spoken to our team about our approach to health engagement, you've almost certainly heard us refer the Transtheoretical Model.

If you aren't familiar with this well-researched theory I highly recommend a deeper dive, but I will give you my cursory summary:

According to the model, each individual can be classified into one of 5 stages of change or "readiness stages" based on their willingness, their perceived ability, and their actual physical ability to make any particular behavioral change.

Those stages are:

(1) Precontemplation

- not ready for change and not likely to be ready soon.

(2) Contemplation

- beginning to consider change, but the perceived pros are heavily outweighed by the cons.

(3) Preparation

- getting ready to attempt the change, but may not have requisite confidence in their ability or the knowledge of specific next steps to get started.

(4) Action

- ready to take action or recently begun making the behavioral change.

(5) Maintenance

- has made the behavioral change and sustained it until it's perceived as a part of how they do things.

Health consumers may move forward or backward between stages at any time, so it is incredibly powerful to be able to identify where your members fall on this spectrum, and better yet, to identify and understand the likely triggers that can propel them forward towards readiness for change.

 

Engagement Multiplier #3

"Decisional Balance"

"Decisional Balance" is a concept also closely tied to the Transtheoretical Model, and to Motivational Interviewing techniques through which an individual is weighing what they perceive as the pros and cons of changing behavior (visualized as a decisional balance sheet).

 
Engagement Multiplier Decisional Balance
 

If you can picture a simple diagram with four quadrants you can picture a basic decisional balance sheet, which typically would include, for example:

(1) Upper Left Quadrant - the perceived benefits ("pros") of making a change.

Decisional Balance Sheet

(2) Upper Right Quadrant - the perceived disadvantages ("cons") of making a change.

(3) Lower Left Quadrant - the pros of *not making a change.

(4) Lower Right Quadrant - the cons of *not making a change.

The idea is that as the balance of the diagram shifts towards the upper left quadrant, where the perceived pros of change are outweighing the cons, that individual is moving themselves toward readiness for change by stating reasons and beginning to identify with their own intrinsic motivation.

 

Engagement Multiplier #4

"Confidence"

"Confidence" refers specifically to each member's confidence in their own ability to successfully make the behavioral change in question.

 
Engagement Multiplier Confidence
 

If you have a psychology or behavioral science background you might recognize what we're calling "confidence" by the more technical term, "Self-Efficacy."

Obviously the more you can help an individual increase their confidence that they can make a change, the more likely they are to say "damn the torpedoes" and give it a real go with you.

It can also be valuable to simply be able to identify where a member falls on the confidence spectrum because confidence in taking the leap, if lacking, can be that last limiting factor that's keeping that member from being ready to take action and engage with you toward making that next change.

But the confidence isn't always the problem on its own. The final engagement multiplier on my list is closely tied to it and can also often be that final piece holding your member back from readiness for change.

 

Engagement Multiplier #5

"Knowledge"

"Knowledge," in our context most obviously describes a person's knowledge of a particular health condition, but as an engagement multiplier it can be powerful to understand someone's knowledge (or lack thereof) in other ways as well.

 
Engagement Multiplier Knowledge
 

For example, a member of yours may simply lack the knowledge that they have a condition in the first place.

This is commonly a huge focus of population health management initiatives, especially those focused on Medicare Advantage populations, because the ability to diagnose individuals is directly tied to your ability to increase CMS revenue from RAF score adjustments.

And lastly, and very often one of the final triggers that tips an individual who's preparing for change into the "Ready" category, is that they lack the knowledge of what a simple first or next step towards making the behavior change looks like.

Clearly defining the next step in as simple of terms as possible can be a game-changer. If you think back to Decisional Balance, if you shrink the step towards change, then you're likely shrinking the perceived cons list and the perceived risk of failing by making the change feel easier.

If you're up for some light reading on recent research that verifies the power of making it "easy" and shrinking the steps to motivate change ("stepladders"), then you may like Dr. Sean Young's book on behavior change Stick With It.

 

The Next Step

This post was only a high-level overview of only one part of the end-to-end actionable approach we use to help our partners take their health improvement programs from outreach to engagement, and from engagement to behavior change

If you'd like to discuss next steps please schedule a commitment-free intro call with us to discuss your programs and learn how we can work together to drive engagement first.

What do you think of our "5 Engagement Multiplers"? Share a comment below, I'd love to engage with you.