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Behavioural Marketing Campaign underpins Wirral’s proactive health campaign

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The primary aim of Wirral's winter 2021/22 campaign – which ran for eight weeks from 26 November to 12 January – was to encourage COVID-19 and influenza vaccination uptake among key cohorts of Wirral residents. This included people aged between 50-65, pregnant woman, and people living with long-term health conditions.1

Utilising the vast population data set and predictive risk analytics capabilities of Oracle Cerner, ICE were able to convey meaningful public health messages directly to those identified as high risk and therefore would benefit most from vaccination.

Working with communication and vaccination teams, behavioural marketers at ICE created messaging and content through social media platforms, such as Facebook, centred around the behavioural principle of ‘social norming’. More specifically, promoting the commonality of vaccination among others to normalise this behaviour and encourage individuals to participate.

The imagery and messaging of the campaign was purposely designed to alleviate vaccine hesitancy, and that both COVID-19 and influenza vaccines were indeed safe and effective.1

Analysis determined that during the eight-week period, 4,488 people clicked through to the vaccination booking site, while the overall visibility of the messaging was calculated to be just under one million (950,816).1

In relation to cost avoidance for the NHS, it was estimated the campaign contributed to c.£25,000 of savings for maternity services. For 50-65-year-olds and those with long-term conditions, a similar analysis anticipated savings to the NHS could be in the region of c.£70,000, against an initial investment of £9,000.1

The work done by ICE, Oracle Cerner and Healthy Wirral Partners was in support of the wider national vaccination campaign. The NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group final evaluation report emphasises how local insights gained by the HealtheIntent platform were invaluable in the design of the campaign: 

Using insight of our local population and more specific behavioural techniques in partnership with ICE that the national focus could not achieve.1 

It is hoped that similar strategies can be adopted in supporting the Wirral Council and Core20PLUS5, a nationwide initiative tackling health inequalities and deprivation.1, 2

Visiting during pandemic

Dr Paula Cowen – GP and former chair of NHS Wirral CCG – emphasises the practicalities of the HealtheIntent platform in identifying the unique care needs of the Wirral population, and addressing the health inequalities of her region:

The digital work that we’re doing is like the golden thread throughout, in facilitating and targeting particular areas.” 

The COVID-19 and influenza campaign delivered significant engagement outcomes and demonstrated the potential of adopting a proactive health strategy.1 Technology that adopts this approach enables local health and care services to design proactive models of care to improve the health and wellbeing of people today, as well as in future years.3 This is particularly relevant in addressing the social determinants of health and reducing health inequality as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stuart Jackson, ICE Founder and CEO, said: 'The campaign results demonstrate the pro-activeness of Wirral CCG in preventive health and the success of this approach for future health interventions and improved clinical outcomes.  The campaigning model used for this intervention is based on behavioural science, using localised language and messaging based on insight and applied health communications theory linked with targeted social media interaction that the national focus could not achieve. We are proud to have been a part of this important work achieving significant health outcomes for our local population thereby easing the strain on the NHS.'

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