Research Topic

Segmentation In Healthcare

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Segmentation is pivotal to establishing target market strategies. A customer population is divided into subgroups - using variables, such as age, sex, income, and lifestyle - and each subgroup is supposed to be internally homogeneous so that marketing activities can be tailored to them with precision. The way ...

Segmentation is pivotal to establishing target market strategies. A customer population is divided into subgroups - using variables, such as age, sex, income, and lifestyle - and each subgroup is supposed to be internally homogeneous so that marketing activities can be tailored to them with precision. The way markets are segmented affects how industries are organized.

In the Public Policy debate, Healthcare is considered as an industry; a coherent set of activities, technologies, and approaches, following a single logic. This assumption generates policy proposals, such as reimbursement principles and process management methods, that are supposed to be widely efficient. However, some departments, such as emergency units, diabetes prevention clinics and surgical factories, respond to different needs. Therefore, if Healthcare could be segmented into meaningful sub-parts, policies and interventions might be more precise.

Healthcare has been segmented in various ways, based on demographics (children, elderly etc.), health problems (infections, tumours etc.), organs and organ systems (cardiology, neurology etc.), and principal methods (surgery, radiation etc.). While useful, these are producer-based segmentation variables, whereas patient-based partition has received less attention. The most popular is the ‘’Bridges to Health’’ model that divides the population into eight groups and each group has different needs for coordinated, integrated care and its own definitions of optimal health. Efforts to establish new segmentation models have been made, but none have become generally accepted and applied yet.

It appears that segmentation principles have been developed to serve the needs of producers or patients. A third approach was attempted focusing on those who design and manage health service production systems and acknowledging both the producer and the patient perspectives. This model postulates urgency and severity as demand-side segmenting variables, and divides patient population to seven different groups, by also taking into account supply-side variables. Therefore, it was named Demand-Supply-based Operational Logic (DSO) model.

The validity of this model can be examined by juxtaposing it to the categories of the well-known Business Model Canvas. It appears that each DSO has different value propositions, patient variables, resources, processes, cost structures, and conceivable revenue models.

While the DSO model is intuitively appealing, the question remains, is it useful? The model does not imply that a hospital should be organized as seven DSO-based departments. The DSO-categories are types of managerial logic that can be applied overlappingly in various situations, hence they compose a virtual cluster of segments.

This Research Topic explores the assumption that Healthcare is a virtual cluster of production logics that serve various demand-supply combinations. ‘Virtual’ indicates that the boundaries of the DSOs are not always clear and that the same DSO can apply to different medical fields and patient groups. For example, maternity care and prostate cancer prevention are clinically different, but follow the same logic of prevention.

Identifying DSO clusters, or other ways of segmenting health service production is assumed to bring clarity and help organizing services with increased precision. We aim to answer:
(1) Which are meaningful ways to segment Healthcare?
(2) How would various ways of segmentation impact policy, practice, and results?

This Research Topic welcomes papers that include, but are not limited to:
- present various segmentation concepts, principles, and variables and discusses their managerial implications
- present empirical cases of applying some segmentation method and the ensuing impact
- challenge or elaborate the DSO -model, particularly from an institutional logics -perspective
- describe the application of the DSO -model as such, or in an elaborated or simplified form in an organization
- discuss possible implications of segmentation on Health policy issues, such as budgeting, cost accounting, revenue models, incentives, objectives, definitions of quality, outcomes and value, and process improvement strategies
- use the Business Model Canvas (BMC) methodology, with or without DSO, to conceptualize different aspects of health service production.

However, this article collection is not limited to the specific BMC methodology or DSO model. We encourage international contributions that explore the principles of segmentation, as they relate to different national health systems across the globe, regardless of the specific method or model.


Keywords: segmentation, healthcare industry, DSO model, health policy, business model


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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