About David Sturtz

David loves ideas. Learning new ideas, researching new ideas, and applying new ideas. And that’s good, because as Geonetric’s product owner, David is responsible for translating ideas into product enhancements. Part of David’s job includes representing the ‘voice of the customer.’ He prioritizes and translates client requests into future product direction. The other part of his job requires him to keep a watchful eye on trends in the industry, ensuring our product stays a step ahead of market needs. Yes, David’s work requires him to wear two hats, and he does so masterfully.

Taking Hold of Your Hospital’s Web Content


Have any of these ever happened to you?

  • You discovered new content (or entire websites) halfway through a project?
  • You struggled to decide what content was in or out of scope for a project?
  • You were afraid to look at some of the content on your site out of fear of what you might find?
  • You’re constantly debating whether you have too little or too much content?
  • You spent more time developing content than anticipated?

If you’ve worked with websites for more than a couple of months, you can probably relate to some of these situations. If you’ve been around for a couple of years, you’ve probably experienced them all. If these problems are so common, how do we wind up in these situations?

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Confab Minnesota 2013: More than Words


This week, resident content experts Maggie and Jill joined me at the Confab Minnesota conference. We were among more than six hundred content strategists whose projects run the gamut from global enterprises to two-person Web teams, manufacturing to healthcare, retail to non-profit.

Much time was spent as you’d expect: talking about words. Creating the appropriate voice for your organization, dealing with content overload, and, in general, creating better content experiences.

If you’re a Geonetric client, this would have been familiar ground, thanks to our eHealth Symposium and clients-only webinars. You already know how to create better cross-device experiences through responsive design, why structured content is essential for the future of search, how to find the right voice and tone for writing about healthcare, and how to make smarter content decisions using data. And if you don’t have time to stay on top of it all, you’ve got a team of smart folks backing you up.

For all of the talk about content, in reality, the conference was more about people than words.

Make a Change

It shouldn’t have been a shock. Content, the Web, and marketing all become a focal point for the organization. They are the external proof that great work is being done. That brings a lot of pressure — and a lot of resistance — to the change that is required to improve the content experience for our audiences.

Three tips for making change happen:

  1. Talk to People: I’ve been amazed at how many client meetings I’ve been in where the people at the table from the same organization don’t know each other. They’re meeting for the first time because of the change—and you wonder why they’re uptight. So, go find people you don’t normally interact with. Ask them what they’re working on. Tell them what you’re up to. It’s laying the groundwork for collaboration in the future.
  2. Celebrate Their Success: Neurology just got a new, non-invasive, uh… laser cat for zapping… yucky stuff and something something. They want a new microsite filled with jargon-y content? How exciting! As you’re talking to people, figure out what they’re excited about. Change and collaboration require shared goals. This is how you get there. Shared goals also help with focus and prioritization – helping you deliver more value, rather than more stuff.
  3. Be as Cross-Functional As You Can Be: Nearly every presentation contained a photo of grain silos. The presenters talked about tearing down the walls, and working as an empowered, cross-functional team. Unfortunately, that’s not the current reality for many organizations. You have to be clever. Figure out how to get everyone to the table, open the channels of communication, and use those shared goals to help everyone pull together.

Change is never easy. It requires you to slow down. It necessitates a shift in thinking – rather than focusing on volume, focus on value. Rather than more content, more page views, more Facebook fans, it’s about getting the right content in front of the right people at the right time.

(Not a client? You can still keep up with how these types of emerging trends are affecting healthcare marketing – sign up for Geonetric’s eHealth Spotlight Newsletter.)

An Innovative Solution to the Content Conundrum

Screen shot of the Blaze content strategy tool

If you’ve worked in the Web industry for any length of time, you’re painfully aware of how challenging it is to plan for, create, and maintain great content. In healthcare, as in many other industries, there is an enormous amount of informational content. It can easily become overwhelming. However, nothing is more central than content to the success of your online strategy and the overall experience of your audience.

Talk with content strategy experts and you will hear war stories about hours spent manipulating spreadsheets. Dozens of articles and blog posts describe in tedious detail how to combine numerous data files into a single view. All of this cutting, pasting, manipulation, and frustration doesn’t leave much time – or energy – for actually  understanding the content or developing a solid strategy, let alone writing anything.

Leave the Spreadsheets to Accounting

It’s time for a new toolset. We’re creating Web-based software that helps Web teams to see all of their content across multiple channels, easily access quantitative metrics, and add insight with hands-on qualitative analysis.

Interested in progress updates, invitations to collaborate, and early access?
Visit blazecontent.com

We’re making it possible to do this in a collaborative, real-time environment – no more waiting for locked files, trying to track down the latest version, or merging sets of changes. We believe that content is the crux of creating great user experiences, and that better tools lead to better content.

Escaping Gravity

You may be wondering how this impacts all of the stuff Geonetric does today. Creating something new is difficult. It’s especially hard to overcome the gravitational pull of what you’ve done in the past. With that in mind, this project is designed to be insulated from existing products and services. We’re operating as a lean startup inside of Geonetric with a small team that will grow if when! we are successful.

Rather than being a drain on the existing organization, we’ve already seen positive side effects. What seems like a tiny shift has thrown open the door for team members to collaborate differently, share new ideas, try out new technologies, and find better ways to solve problems. That’s innovation.

Healthcare Marketing Trends for 2013

2013 web marketing content trendsIt wouldn’t be January without a few predictions, so here are my top three areas to keep an eye on in 2013.

Browsers, Browsers Everywhere

As predicted, 2012 saw continued proliferation of Web-browsing devices and platforms – the iPad mini, Microsoft Surface, Windows Phone 8 – the list goes on. If you’re thinking of creating a mobile site we highly recommend you consider responsive design. Responsive design is the new table-less Web design – a watershed moment in how websites are constructed to adapt to any screen size.

From a design perspective, addressing the needs of smaller screens has created a trend toward leaner websites with minimal, but sophisticated, designs.

Check out our video to learn more about responsive design.

Semantic Search

Search engines are rapidly evolving into answer engines. Rather than responding to users’ queries with a list of links to possibly relevant Web pages, the search result has become the answer itself.

For healthcare marketers, SEO is more than ensuring you have keyword-rich Web pages and inbound links from high-ranking sources. SEO also involves confirming that search engines have accurate data about you – your locations, phone numbers and social media pages – all the data elements that get returned to searchers without them ever visiting your site.

Content Marketing

Content marketing grew rapidly in 2012. Simply put, content marketing is when you create content to engage consumers and encourage them to take some action. Healthcare content is increasingly diverse, including infographics, video, digital magazines, eBooks and more.

We see a continued rise in content marketing for 2013, which means a continued focus on social media. If your social media strategy can be summed up as “like us on Facebook,” you’ve fallen behind. Make sure you’re treating your social media activities in the same way as traditional media – incorporating owned, earned and paid media.

These are the three main trends we’re keeping our eyes on. No matter what trends you’re paying attention too, it’s sure to be an exciting year!

Exciting Extranets

Extranets offer a great way for hospitals and health systems to communicate securely with some of their most important audiences. They also provide the opportunity to make a good impression with those audiences.

Think of an extranet like an invitation-only microsite. Like a microsite, an extranet is a self-contained destination focused on a single audience and a relatively small set of goals. For example, extranets can be used to communicate with physician groups and board of directors.

It’s important to remember that extranets are secure and targeted. When implementing an extranet, treat it as a new website. Create an architecture, design, and tone that speaks to your audience. Make sure the content is relevant to them.

Also consider how you plan to manage the extranet. A content management system can make it easy for you to update content. It can help you:

  • Create new extranet sites and secured content quickly
  • Organize content and provide multiple navigational options
  • Manage the permissions of individual users and groups
  • Provide secure access to a variety of files including PDFs, Microsoft Word, and Excel
  • Publish engaging, visually rich content using imagery and interactive design elements
  • Use responsive design to ensure your visitors have a great experience on any mobile device

If you’d like to talk more about spicing up your extranet, give us a call. And in the meantime check out one of our extranet success stories.

12 Tips for Promoting Your Health Event Online

Events are a huge component of many of your marketing, health promotion, community outreach, professional training, and fundraising efforts. But would you know it from looking at your website? Too often healthcare websites include brief event descriptions copied from print materials, challenging navigation, and few calls to action that frustrate registrants on many healthcare websites.

Here are twelve tips for ensuring potential attendees can find your listing, have the information they need, and can figure out how to sign up for the event.

Enhance Your Event Content

  1. Expand your event descriptions. Try to help potential attendees learn about the entire event experience – where it’s held, who will be attending, what they will be asked to do, and what information will be presented.
  2. Use photos and videos of the event location, class materials, props, speakers and even highlights of the content.
  3. Include feedback, quotes or testimonials from past participants. First-person perspectives can help potential attendees imagine themselves at your event.

Make Event Listings Easy to Find

  1. Be sure events can be found by topic. Visitors to healthcare sites tend to focus on finding events around a particular topic, rather than browsing events on certain days. They are more likely to want to know when the next flu clinic is than everything that’s going on this Friday. Make sure they don’t have to look through tons of irrelevant information to find the event they care about.
  2. Watch out for navigational dead ends and cul-de-sacs. Categories with no events, expired event listings, and lists of events with no calls to action can create a frustrating online experience.
  3. Cross-link events throughout your website. Visitors arrive on your website in more places than just your home page. Make sure it’s easy to access information about relevant events from these entry points.
  4. Link related events together. Make it easy to locate the best date for a particular topic, as well as support groups, screenings, or wellness topics relevant to a particular condition.
  5. Promote events with social media. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even Pinterest can be great ways to share information about upcoming events. Use multimedia elements (see number two) to make your posts even more engaging.
  6. Pay attention to search engine optimization. Page title, description, and properly-structured headings can help searchers locate your event listing.

Make it Easy to Take Action

  1. Make the call to action clear and prominent. It should be obvious what someone needs to do to attend the event. Online registration, a phone number to call, or the fact that no registration is required should be among the most prominent items on the screen.
  2. Let attendees sign up online. If you require advance registration, letting people register online just makes sense. It’s convenient for registrants and a timesaver for call center and event staff.
  3. Follow-up with clear email messages. Always let individuals know the status of their registration. Don’t leave registrants wondering if they’re “on the list.”

Putting it All Together
We’ve taken all of these ideas (and many more) into consideration as we’ve built VitalSite’s Calendar and Event Registration capabilities. From robust, multimedia event content, to related event SmartPanels, to a fully featured event shopping cart with online registration, VitalSite is the best way to promote events on your healthcare website.

For more information on how to promote your health events online, check out our recent webinar Revenue Drivers: Improving Your Site’s eCommerce Capabilities on our website.

Exclusive Interview with Our Guest Product Owner

We work hard to ensure our VitalSite content management system is the best on the market. And we’re lucky enough to work with experts in many disciplines – not just software development. We routinely reach out to our internal experts to get advice and recommendations to ensure our software meets evolving needs.

For one of our recent development sprints we invited Casey Hansen, Geonetric’s expert on all things Google, to join the VitalSite team as a guest product owner. Casey brought a backlog of ideas for enhancing the search engine optimization features of VitalSite. I sat down with him to find out how it went.

DS: Thanks for being part of the development team this sprint. Could you explain which part of the development process you were included in?

CH: I was involved in the planning process and the daily standups to see how the product team works through a sprint and overcomes obstacles. It was eye-opening to see how all the different pieces affect each other.

DS: It’s a constant process of prioritization. Were there other surprising aspects of the development process?

CH: The biggest surprise was to see how something that seems simple can actually be quite complex. What will that change affect here? There? Across the product? What do we do if this happens? What do we do if that happens? When you’re the one with the idea, you don’t think about all of the details. The simplest little feature can have waterfall effects. It’s really enlightening to understand the process.

DS: One of the features that you worked on was an enhancement to encourage authors to provide good metadata for the content they create. How do you think the feature will boost search engine optimization?

CH: It’s going to help make sure that some of the basics are on the pages, that they don’t get left out, and that they conform to standards. In my experience, clients have multiple people putting content in and it’s easy for pages to get published with no metadata, or inconsistent metadata. This feature is going to help guide that process.

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Ignore Your Home Page

Last week Jonah Peretti, co-founder of BuzzFeed and Huffington Post, shared his advice for Marissa Mayer, the former Google executive who was recently appointed president and CEO of Yahoo!:

“It is amazing how having a huge home page can be a curse. People start fighting over existing traffic instead of trying to make awesome new things that are exciting enough to attract their own audience. Marissa Mayer should exclude home page traffic from all metrics used to evaluate performance…”

It’s a great thought experiment. If the product you’re promoting – whether that’s a service line, facility, care provider, event, or simply information – isn’t enough to draw visits on its own, then putting a link on the home page isn’t the solution.

In short: if you’re still focused on driving traffic to your home page, you’re missing the point.

Check the stats for your site and, if you’re like most Geonetric clients, you’ll find that 80-95% of pageviews are for pages other than the home page. So how do you make the most of traffic that is distributed across thousands of pages?

Geonetric’s VitalSite content management system has a great answer to this question – it’s something we call SmartPanels. All content in VitalSite can be tagged, organizing it for navigation and searching. Using these tags, site administrators can efficiently show links to highly relevant content in multiple ways across thousands of pages. And because it’s all driven by VitalSite, keeping all of those links up-to-date happens automatically.

SmartPanels can be used to drive calls-to-action, promote care providers, highlight upcoming events, and more. They interconnect all of the non-home page content on your site, making the most of all of those pageviews.

Learn more about VitalSite’s SmartPanels in this short video, then contact us for a demo.

While You’re Asleep… We’re Testing

What does your sleep have to do with VitalSite’s quality? More than you know… It all has to do with our implementation of Behavior Driven Development (BDD).

As you may know from the Lean management philosophy, finding and fixing issues as early as possible is the key to increasing quality. On a Toyota assembly line, any worker can stop the line when a problem occurs. We wanted to apply the same attention to detail and rapid feedback to our software development process.

That’s why we recently introduced BDD to Geonetric. Behavior Driven Development focuses on defining the behavior of a feature and writing automated tests to ensure the software behaves as expected. Writing the actual code to add the feature to VitalSite comes after the test is developed. Sound backwards? It’s not – in fact, this process ensures every line of code not only adds value, but is automatically tested at the push of a button.

That automatic testing is another key piece of our BDD process. By testing features throughout the software multiple times per day – including over 2,000 tests that run each night – we can find and fix issues as soon as they happen. As you can imagine, the longer it takes to find something that’s broken, the harder it is to discover why it’s not working.

At Geonetric, quality has truly become a part of each step of our process, from defining a feature to ensuring the feature continues to work – next week or next year.

So sleep tight!

A Cohesive Health Library Experience

Healthwise logoYou know the value health libraries can provide your organization and your site visitors. The content supports service line marketing efforts, gives care providers a resource for reliable patient education information and enhances your online brand.

However, too often health content solutions tend to seem isolated and out-of-sync with the rest of the hospital’s website.

That’s why we’ve been working closely with Healthwise® to create a solution that aligns with our holistic approach to online strategy. The Healthwise Knowledgebase features a vast array (more than 40,000 pages!) of top-quality, evidence-based health content along with images, illustrations and interactive tools. Most important is their emphasis on shared decision making. Healthwise created content that facilitates conversations between patients and care providers aimed at addressing the difficult decisions patients face.

Together with Healthwise, we’ve made it possible to truly integrate accurate and current health content into your website’s user experience. Visitors who are learning about service lines, checking out symptoms, or receiving a secure message from your staff can now have high-quality health content at their fingertips.

In the next release of our VitalSite content management solution you’ll find the ability to:

  • Create links to Healthwise health content from anywhere in your site with just a few clicks. Link to relevant health topics from a service line page, news article or even in a secure message
  • Use SmartPanels to dynamically promote relevant providers, events and services, alongside health library content
  • Integrate your health library with the look, feel, site search, navigation and content of your site
  • Do all this through a single vendor relationship and on a single software platform

And, of course, these features have been built into our VitalSite software, meaning the capabilities will continue to grow and evolve as we release new versions of the software every quarter.

Your Feedback Matters When You’re a Geonetric Client

Ever wish you had more of a voice with your current content management system vendor? When you work with Geonetric, your input shapes future versions of our VitalSite content management system.

We release a new version of our product every quarter and many of the enhancements we make are based on the client feedback we receive. In fact, we’ve decided to take that process to the next level and make it even easier for users to share their ideas with our product team.

In our latest VitalSite release, we added a feedback mechanism right into the administrative interface. An icon appears on all VitalSite pages, taking users to a simple form they can submit to share their comments, thoughts and ideas for the product. Suggestions are sent directly to our product team and help shape future versions of the product as well as our user guides.

So as we showcase VitalSite’s new features and functionality in this newsletter, know that many of them were probably ideas our clients submitted via our new feedback mechanism!

What 10 of the Most “Effective US Health System Websites” Have in Common

It’s always good to know where you stand, and very few things help us with this as much as a third party, independent comparative analysis of how our work ranks against the rest of the industry. A peer-reviewed research article published in the February 2012 issue of the Journal of Healthcare Management[1] attempts to do this very thing…

The researchers reviewed 636 hospital and health system websites and ranked each on Accessibility, Content, Marketing, and Technology metrics. An overall score was then computed for each site.

The results are simply outstanding.

Four Geonetric clients are listed in the overall top 25. An additional six sites are leaders in the evaluation categories. What an accomplishment for our clients!

These ten sites represent community hospitals, specialty hospitals, and health systems from coast to coast — there is obviously more than luck at play in the fact that these sites scored so well.

The winning combination: VitalSite and Geonetric

The fact is, we design our VitalSite content management solution to be the most capable platform in the industry. That means we work hard on fundamental capabilities, like responsive design, navigation that’s possible without Flash or JavaScript, SEO best practices, accessibility and Web standards, to ensure our platform provides our clients with the ultimate technical solution for their content, marketing and portal needs.

On top of that, our design and content teams excel at implementing extraordinary design: information architectures, user experiences and content that informs and motivates action. Couple this with gung-ho clients, and it’s no wonder we’re seeing more and more recognition in the industry. Geonetric has the right tools and the right teams to make an otherwise sleepy website sizzle.

Of course, we’ve been saying this all along. But it’s still nice to have an independent research team acknowledge this to an audience of 30,000 health care professionals in one of the most respected journals in the industry.

Curious about how Geonetric’s software and services can help you? Contact us.

[1] Ford, E. W., Huerta, T. R., Schilhavy, R. A. M., Menachemi, N., & Walls, V. U. (January 01, 2012). Effective US Health System Websites: Establishing Benchmarks and Standards for Effective Consumer Engagement. Journal of Healthcare Management, 57, 1, 47-65.

Meaningful User Adoption

Medical Records, patient portal, user adoption, meaningful use stage 2The latest version of Meaningful Use Stage 2 was recently released (see Ben Dillon’s blog post ), and there are two items related to how patients access health information and providers online that I found fascinating. The proposed rule requires that online access to health information and secure messaging be available to 50 percent of patients and – more importantly – 10 percent of patients must use them.

We Can Do Better!

Meaningful Use Stage 1 rules required hospitals and eligible providers to make information available to patients in an electronic format. What sounded like a promising step forward for patients has turned out to be nothing more than files delivered on CD-ROMs or via a “secret,” un-promoted patient portal. In short, it was only marginally better than the current medical records request process.

We can do better, right? Allowing patients to digitally access health information isn’t easy, but we’re committed to solving this in a way that puts consumers at the center of the experience.

To help health consumers understand the benefits of actually using your patient portal, you’ll have to focus on more than just the clinical and I.T. aspects. You’ll need to focus on the patient experience too. It’s essential that you create a value proposition that convinces patients to adopt your technology. This means implementing software that makes it easy for consumers to interact with your organization and retrieve their health information.

Geonetric’s Patient Portal Enhances the Patient Experience

Geonetric’s Patient Portal has always been focused on the patient experience – ensuring health consumers can find and use the information sent from their providers. It’s easy for patients to use and helps you take a gradual engagement approach to adopting the technology.

The portal includes functionality, such as secure messaging, electronic health records, chronic disease management diaries, device support software, and health risk assessments to help providers monitor and control patient behavior. It also provides patients with clinical summaries, electronic copies of their health records, timely access to electronic information and patient-specific educational resources to help patients improve their health. Our portal is ONC-ATCB certified and meets current meaningful use requirements for engaging patients and families. It’s also built to be flexible so it can support the Meaningful Use Stage 2 regulatory decisions as they are finalized.

If you’re looking to implement a consumer portal for a more personalized Web experience, or a full-fledged patient portal integrated with your electronic medical system to deliver clinical data, talk to us about our portal solutions.

Improving Health One Step at a Time

I bought a FitBit last weekend. I’m telling myself it’s for professional research purposes, and entirely unrelated to any delicious overindulgences from December.

If you’re unfamiliar, FitBit is a tiny device that clips to your belt and tracks your movements 24/7, reporting on your activity level and sleep quality. It’s basically a souped-up, Kinect-era pedometer.

The FitBit wirelessly posts data to a website, updating regularly when you’re in range of its base station. From there, your data can be forwarded onto Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, or – more interestingly – Microsoft’s HealthVault.

The effect is something we are striving for with our patient portal – increasing patients’ access to data about their body, health and activities. Lab test results buried in a chart don’t help patients to see the patterns in how their body is responding to their daily choices – medication adherence, lifestyle changes, continuing treatment – that are necessary to improve their health.

Simultaneously, we’re investigating ways to present detailed patient data to the next generation of connected health devices, to help caregivers see the day-to-day reality of their patients’ lives.

At the end of a day spent running from meeting to meeting and chasing after a three-year-old, I was chagrined to see that my activity level still registered as pretty low. However, I’ve now got a baseline and tomorrow I can make better choices.

Healthcare Marketing: Four Big Trends for 2012

As the director of product strategy, part of my job is to keep a watchful eye on industry trends and ensure our VitalSite content management system stays a step ahead of market needs. That doesn’t mean I have a crystal ball, but it does mean I am in a unique position to evaluate what’s a trend – and what’s just a temporary buzz. Here are four areas I think will get a lot of attention this year.

Beyond Mobile
There was enormous buzz about mobile in 2011, and not without good reason. Geonetric clients saw steady growth in mobile visits throughout the year. Headed into 2012, I think we’ll be seeing less hype, and more substantive focus on the value that can be delivered by a variety of devices – not just phones – to create integrated experiences for health consumers.

Continued Smart Phone Growth
While growth in the use of mobile devices for Internet consumption was tremendous in 2011, we won’t see any slow-down in 2012. Expect a big jump in January as consumers take to the new smart phones and tablets they received as gifts, then a return to consistent month-over-month growth throughout the remainder of the year.

Forecasts indicate that overall internet consumption on mobile devices will exceed that on traditional computers by 2015.

Integrated Experiences
“In-store mobile” picked up speed during the 2011 holiday season as several retailers, including Target and Best Buy, introduced apps with features designed for use while shopping in the stores. I predict we’ll be seeing this trend take off inside healthcare facilities as well.

Consumers are increasingly leaning on mobile technologies to provide information and help with decision making wherever they go. Savvy healthcare systems will focus on using customer journey mapping techniques to create seamless patient experiences.

Starting early with the iPad2 and winding up the year with the Kindle Fire, 2011 brought a wide range of devices uniquely geared toward reading. Now what will we do with them? With consumers snatching up Kindles at the rate of one million per week at the end of 2011, we’re likely to see an increased interest in delivering content to eReader platforms via publishing, newsstand, and in-book advertising platforms.

Internet TV
From set-top devices like Roku and Boxee to features built into HDTVs, DVD players, and DVRs, a rapidly increasing number of consumers are accessing Internet-based content through their televisions. Over-the-top-TV (OTT), as it’s known in the industry, is taking another bite out of commercial television.

This trend underscores the importance of putting video – especially YouTube – in your marketing mix. Several sources have pegged YouTube as the third most popular search service, behind Google and Facebook, and a large number of Internet TV devices include YouTube functionality.

Getting Found
Along with the new diversity of communication channels comes an intensification of the findability problem – how do you connect with the right audience at the right time?

Content Strategy
Everyone has been doing more with less in the last few years. Combine this with the broadening array of digital media and it seems obvious that a solid content strategy is essential to ensure content investments are paying off.

As a discipline, content strategy really gained footing in 2011. We’ve seen this manifested as a shift away from a heavy focus on the visual design, toward ensuring the right content is in place across multiple channels. Organizations thinking about a site refresh are more likely to be talking about enhanced content rather than only a new look for the home page. I expect 2012 will continue to see a growing understanding of the importance of content as the foundation of an effective online strategy.

Social Search
Perhaps the biggest trend in SEO is the increasing importance of social and local search. It’s not just about keywords, it’s about “who you know” and “location, location, location.”

Google’s search results factor in Twitter, Google+ and the searcher’s location. Meanwhile, in addition to Facebook, consumers are increasingly using location-based and deal-based social networks to find information on businesses and their communities.

This year we will see marketers cultivating relationships with content curators, community leaders, partner organizations, and employees to get linked, increase their clout, and lead their tribes.

Digital Care
Changes to healthcare business models, technological demands, and new standards of patient care are continuing to challenge care providers. While solutions are still evolving to meet these needs, the next year should see interesting developments in digital caregiving.

Meaningful Use: Stage 2
The next stage of meaningful use is scheduled to be finalized mid-year. This set of criteria includes benchmarks for patient usage of portals, ability to secure message with providers, and generally increased availability of information specified in Stage 1. Other criteria, if adopted, will broaden the electronic information available, including lists of care team members and longitudinal care plans, enabling additional patient portal features.

This means increased pressure to not only put patient portal technology in place, but ensure patients are actually using the portal.

Accountable Care
The Accountable Care Organization (ACO) guidelines recently released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) accentuate the trend toward accountable care. Meanwhile, more health systems are working in cooperation with large employers to provide care under pay-for-performance models.

The patient-centric requirements of this model offer an opportunity for online experiences that not only enable better communication, but help make a difference in clinical outcomes. While much of the technology implementation of the past few years has been internally focused on care providers and support, expect a shift toward technologies that really engage the patient. From social health support networks involving patients, families, and care providers, to new connected medical devices and wellness tools that provide support for changing behaviors.

Big Data
Big data describes the enormous, unwieldy datasets that are becoming an increasingly important source of information for businesses. For healthcare marketers specifically, big data offers opportunities to harness the power of customer relationship management (CRM), interpret billing and claims data, or to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction. We expect to see a growth in the use of big data over the coming year.

Interpreting Claims Data
As an example, last month a new CMS rule enabled increased access to claims data. This opens the door for more visibility into the performance of care providers and organizations. This change in transparency will undoubtedly have repercussions as ratings sites, care plans, and employers attempt to mine this profusion of data.

Keep Your Eyes Open!

From creating their first mobile sites to building a YouTube library, most healthcare marketers began to concentrate on many of these developments throughout 2011. In the coming months, it will be time to take the foundation to the next level. Some trends will be easier to keep up with – like investments in content strategy and location-based SEO – others, like ACOs and pay-for-performance models, will require the entire organization to refocus its efforts. Regardless, these are all areas cutting-edge healthcare marketers should be watching.