About Linda Barnes

Don’t let Linda’s green belt in Lean Six Sigma or master’s degree in marketing and finance from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management intimidate you. This driven marketing executive brings her high standards for quality to every marketing campaign and branding initiative she manages. But she’s also a people person and values creativity. It’s this unique combination that makes her the perfect person to manage Geonetric’s business development efforts, pushing her team to find new ways to tell Geonetric’s story while still remaining focused on results. With more than 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, sales, strategic planning, and project management, Linda knows a thing or two about developing and executing integrated marketing strategies. Between traveling the country sharing Geonetric’s vision and approving marketing campaign ideas, Linda can be found assembling care packages for her two away-at-college sons and finding new and inventive ways to remodel their old rooms. Tea in the sitting room, anyone?

Skills are Only Part of the Package: Hiring the Best Web Vendor for Your Organization

standingonheadDo you ever wonder if Scott Adams, creator of the “Dilbert” comic strip, is sitting on your shoulder? I have to admit, sometimes I do. This week, he’s lampooning the idea of hiring for cultural fit — something we at Geonetric have recently started intentionally focusing on.

It’s often amusing … and fairly easy … to joke about trends. Because frankly, any business concept, taken to its illogical extreme, has negative aspects and can be a target for ridicule.

But here’s the thing: a bad hire is expensive. We all know that. There’s all kinds of research that shows bad hires cost companies not just in terms of the time and resources to hire and train employees, but also in missed sales opportunities, lower client satisfaction and retention, strained employee relations, and potential legal issues. It’s often said that companies traditionally hire for skills and fire for behavior.

Of course, no one is hiring ONLY for cultural fit. At Geonetric, we use a combination of interviewing approaches — skills tests, personality assessments, behavioral interviewing, etc. — to get at a candidate’s ability to perform a job well within the team environment we’ve created.

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Consistency: The Good And The Bad


Photo of a dartboard with three darts in the bullseye
Those unfamiliar with agile philosophies sometimes assume “agile” means lack of process, planning or consistency. In fact, all those things are present in agile … but it’s important to look at the underlying data to determine when that consistency helps or hinders us in reaching goals.

In this quarter’s client satisfaction survey we saw consistency in several areas … so we looked closer to interpret those results.
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What Does Geonetric Value

In the second year of our Agile-beyond-software transformation, we had an “aha” moment. We realized our core values were fuzzy and didn’t necessarily reflect the company we are today. We trust employees to self-organize and make the “right” decisions – but they didn’t have clear principles to guide those decisions.

In a traditional environment, the executive team might hire a branding company to define and roll out the organization’s values. The company then typically ends up with words that are cliché, ambiguous and impossible to measure – values like “passion” and “excellence” – or a Dilbert-like phrase filled with buzzwords – such as “leveraging core competencies to achieve synergistic results”. That doesn’t cut it here.

So of course, we decided to turn the process on its head. We asked employees to tell the executive team what our core values are.

Employees were asked to write a value and short description on a card and post it on our newly-created Core Values wall. For two weeks, each employee could add as many or as few as they wanted, and in the end, employees contributed nearly 50 cards.

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From there, we grouped the cards based on similar ideas, and came up with twelve high-level themes. Those themes then were put into a survey tool, where employees were asked to rank them. The results were crystal clear. Employees believe we have five core values, with the other seven supporting those.

Our final step was to have our marketing team help wordsmith the final values, because of course, they have to sound like us.

Core_Values

And here are the values that our employees believe make us who we are and define how we work with each other and our clients every day:

  • Own it: We’re accountable to ourselves, each other and our clients. We keep our promises.
  • Bring it: We deliver exceptional service and value every day. We’re aiming for Wow!
  • Push it: We’re always moving forward or learning from our mistakes. Standing still is not an option.
  • Say it: We’ve torn down the walls so ideas and information flow freely. Candid and direct is a way of life.
  • Unite! We are strategic and creative, thoughtful and candid, fun and different. We’re one team, united by a common vision.

If you interact with any of us at Geonetric in any way – as a client, vendor partner, community neighbor, agile co-conspirator, prospective client or candidate for employment – I trust that you’ve been seeing those values in action for a long time. We’ve just finally written them down in a way that sounds just like us. Yep – nailed it.

 

Geonetric Clients Really Like Us!

When I review the results of our quarterly client satisfaction survey, I feel a lot like Sally Field felt when she won the Oscar® for Best Actress in 1985.

“This time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now you like me!”

There is no denying the fact that our clients like us. And that’s a really great feeling!

To put some numbers behind those emotions (because we’re all about the data!), this quarter’s survey again surpassed our targets for both participation level AND satisfaction ranking.

  • 72% of our clients completed the survey, slightly higher than our 70% goal.
  • Clients ranked us at 5.21 on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 6 (highest), well above our target of 5.0.

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Building a Democratic Workplace at Geonetric

worldblu certification

Today Geonetric was certified as a Democratic Workplace by WorldBlu. We’re proud to be a company that values its employees and actively works to create such a positive workplace culture.

Geonetric has always been a great place to work. About 18 months ago, we took that a step further – we said “great culture” has to mean more than just amenities like free food and a flexible work environment. So we eliminated our formal management hierarchy and instead created self-organizing, self-managing teams. That was a pretty major step toward a democratic workplace, even before we knew that was a “thing”.

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Clients Still Satisfied? Check.

Client Satisfaction Graph
We did it again! The results of this quarter’s client satisfaction survey (and yes, we do it every three months) shows that our clients continue to value Geonetric as their Web partner. Last quarter, we hit an all-time high overall score of 5.32 on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 6 (highest). This quarter, we maintained that impressive score.

We have a pretty lofty goal for response rate. We need 70% participation, every survey. And you know what? We’ve consistently exceed that goal for more than two years. This time around, 73% of our clients participated in the survey and 92% of those respondents gave us a 5.0 or higher overall score!

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Voice of the Customer versus Survey Fatigue

Photo of a man holding his hand to his ear.

It’s a well-documented fact that Geonetric surveys our clients every quarter to find out how we’re doing. In fact, we just wrapped up our Q3 survey.

Some might ask why we survey so frequently. Doesn’t that lead to survey fatigue? Aren’t we worried about over-surveying leading to skewed results and lowered response rates?

On the other hand, good businesses have to pay attention to the “Voice of the Customer.” What are their preferences, expectations, and experiences with our company?

So how do we balance these two seemingly conflicted questions?
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When to Use a Microsite vs. a Landing Page

When promoting a campaign, when should you develop a microsite vs. a landing page? This simple question has generated many conversations here at Geonetric, especially as we work with clients to promote their wellness campaigns online. And like many questions, the answer is: it depends.

Microsites
Let’s start by defining microsites. A microsite is a mini website separate from the hospital’s main website. Microsites are typically small sites – with 3-10 pages. What makes them different to a small website is that microsites are usually built to be promotion specific – they focus on a specific topic or target a specific audience. Microsites deviate from the organizational site in terms of design, colors, logos, and messaging.

There are several reasons why you may need to create a microsite:

  1. You are launching a campaign: Microsites may be created to promote a specific campaign, such as an educational campaign, centennial celebration, or wellness event. The microsite can provide content, design, and calls to action that coordinate with the campaign. Check out National Jewish Health’s microsite created to promote its Family Air Care® Indoor Allergens and Mold Test Kit . The site contains pages of relevant content and clearly directs visitors to order the kit.
  2. You have multiple facilities: Health systems with many facilities may choose to promote them using microsites. These microsites typically contain similar branding elements as the main website, but can better target the individual facility’s region and dig deeper into its services. Genesis Health System created a microsite for its Mercer County Hospital that contains a similar look as its organizational site.
  3. You want to target a specific audience or promote a specific brand: Hospitals often offer services that attract an audience that’s different than the organizational website. Perhaps you offer a health facility and want to attract consumers looking for wellness services. Perhaps you have a college of nursing program and want to target students. Or perhaps you have a children’s center that needs a more fun, personable site. The Reginald S. Lourie Center for Infants and Young Children, part of Adventist Healthcare, recently launched a microsite to cater to parents and their children as well as build awareness of its individual brand.

Microsites help you promote a product or service with detailed, relevant content. Because of that focused content, microsites can produce more conversions than the organizational website and may even help with improving organic search rankings for the topic.

Landing pages
Landing pages are typically one-page sites. Like a microsite, they focus on driving visitors to take an action. Landing pages are most often used as part of a temporary inbound marketing campaign where the call to action or offer is the focus on the page. Landing pages typically use: 1) images and a look that coordinates with the inbound marketing effort, 2) very little navigation, and 3) a clear call to action on the page. For a great example, check out Rush-Copley’s breast health SEM campaign. The keyword “mammogram” takes visitors to a landing page that encourages them to schedule an appointment.

When to use microsites vs. landing pages
There isn’t one answer to the question of when to use a microsite vs. a landing page. Many factors help determine the best approach:

  • Goals
  • Audience
  • Complexity of the topic
  • Content
  • Internal processes
  • Call to action
  • Budget

It really depends on your specific situation. Regardless of the option you select, they both help you provide targeted content that drives visitors to take an action. They are easier to develop than organizational sites, since they aren’t as deep or wide in scope. And using analytics, both mircosites and landing pages allow you to track everything from number of visitors to conversions. So to answer the question, it does depend. But both options will help you successfully promote your services and campaigns.

Geonetric can help you determine if you should create a microsite or landing page. Check out these microsite success stories and then contact us to learn more.

We Don’t Set Out to Win Awards, But…

It happens when you build websites founded on research, designed to be engaging and written to connect with audiences.  Already this year Geonetric clients have taken home Aster Awards, Hermes Creative Awards, and Web Health Awards.  And it’s only June! Well, we can add two more to that list, because last week The Interactive Media Awards announced its 2011 winners, and Geonetric’s own Dean, headquartered in Madison, WI, and St. Vincent’s HealthCare, headquartered in Jacksonville, FL, took top honors.

Dean and St. Vincent’s HealthCare both received Outstanding Achievement in Website Development and their sites were judged on design, usability, technical features, standards compliance and content. In order to win this award level, the sites had to meet strict guidelines in each area — an achievement only a fraction of sites in the IMA competition earn each quarter.

I have a feeling the award-winning isn’t over, so stay tuned through the rest of the year to see more clients recognized for effective Web initiatives.

Putting Success in a Successful Site Launch

In March, we launched four successful new client sites. And although four launches in one month is impressive, we’re much more focused on the successful part of that sentence. Why? Because we believe a website, intranet or patient portal is only as good as the results it delivers.

We help our clients see the results of their efforts immediately. Not only do they hear the rave reviews and compliments from their own site visitors, we also provide them with a post-launch report detailing statistics on their key success measurements.

Here’s a look at our recent launches and some of the stats we’ve seen:

  • MidMichigan Health started the month with the launch of its new website and “MyMidMichigan” patient portal. Within two weeks of launching, MidMichigan noticed an improvement in key site traffic measurements: visitors are spending more time on the site and the pages are relevant to visitors measured by a low bounce rate.
  • Mid-month, Overlake Hospital Medical Center unveiled its new website and “My Overlake” portal, and also became the first hospital to launch a mobile site in the greater Seattle area! The new site generated 478 total portal users in a month and the first portal users signed up within an hour of launch. And after just four weeks, Overlake’s visits were up by 28%, a total of $93,201.41 was collected in online bill payments (a new feature for Overlake), and again, pages are relevant to visitors measured by a low bounce rate of 27%.
  • In the last week of March, Pella Regional Health Center launched its new website to strengthen its regional brand. The site offers many enhanced features, including new online bill payment functionality. According to the first month stats, visitors are spending 72% more time on the site and bounce rate decreased to 25%.
  • And finally, Lubbock Heart Hospital debuted its website the day after Pella, following an impressively fast three-month implementation. After site launch, Lubbock’s site visits increased 67%, visitors are spending 67% more time on the site and search traffic from Google improved by 181%.

Of course, numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. We dig into the numbers to help interpret the data, benchmark the results against industry norms, and make suggestions for next steps. So our clients understand when an increase in time spent on the site or pageviews is good, what an acceptable bounce rate is given the goal of the page, and when it’s time to build a mobile site or launch a search engine marketing campaign.

And the reporting doesn’t stop after the first month. We continue to track key success measurements and deliver quarterly reports to our clients’ stakeholders – so everyone on the team can see how the Web is impacting organizational goals.

When you’re selecting an online solutions provider, it’s important to consider both the sophistication of the product as well as the level of service provided. At Geonetric, we focus on building the most powerful software solution on the market and backing that up with a support team dedicated to ensuring you launch a site that meets your goals not just on the day you launch, but every day after.

Your Board of Directors Using the Web? Yes!

Board of Director Using the InternetA board of directors plays a critical role in any organization. They’re responsible for determining an organization’s mission and purpose, overseeing the executive team, setting broad objectives, monitoring financial performance, planning, and allocating resources. Adding to those challenges, board members typically are not full-time employees and have other responsibilities. So it’s pretty critical to allow them to share confidential information from remote locations in a way that is easy, immediate, secure, efficient and financially responsible. Oh, and if it aligns with your green initiative, that’s even better.

Enter the board extranet. With the right software, you can use the Web to improve communications with your board of directors. It fulfills the whole list of requirements, and it’s easy to track the results to prove return on investment (ROI).

Many of you are thinking, “OUR board? Using the Web?” Absolutely. We have testimonials from our clients about how their board members are becoming increasingly tech-savvy, love the convenience and portability, and are pleased with the savings.

We recently posted a case study on our website about the success Southern Regional Health System experienced with their board of directors extranet. Read it for yourself. Just maybe, after your board experiences first-hand the value of targeted online communications, they’ll be more receptive to your budget request for a site redesign, new content management system or patient portal. Let us know how we can help!

Make Consistency in Your Online Marketing Part of Your New Year’s Resolution

Lose 10 pounds. Give more to charity. Create an integrated online marketing plan. Yes, it’s that time of year again when we make that wish list known as New Year’s resolutions. But when it comes to creating a consistent experience for your online site visitors, it can’t just be a wish.

Getting a handle on all the online tools at your disposal is overwhelming. That’s why at the beginning of the year, Geonetric released a white paper that discusses the importance of implementing a cohesive online marketing strategy – one that simultaneously addresses your myriad audiences and communications channels. We call it the eConnections Framework – a vision for integrating the Web, patient portal and social media.

That white paper proved useful while talking with hospital marketers throughout the year, especially at industry conferences. While there’s a lot of buzz about relatively new concepts like social media and patient portals, there are still many questions about basic Web functionality, allocation of resources to the various channels, and project prioritization.

Geonetric’s position has always been that you need an integrated framework to deliver a seamless user experience online. That holds true with all aspects of your Web strategy – whether you’re assessing software, creating content, or building a team.  And it’s certainly true as you begin to implement a patient portal. Your portal needs to integrate seamlessly with your website, which in turn, needs to incorporate your hospital’s activities in social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.

In your facility, you want your patients to have a positive experience, whether they’re asking for directions at the front desk, telling a nurse about post-surgery pain, or requesting billing details from your accounting staff. Of course, each of those conversations will have different goals, depth of interaction, and length. Your online approach is no different. Your site visitors may have different encounters with your organization online – depending on if they’re watching your latest YouTube promotional video or researching specialists that will treat their newly-diagnosed condition. But either way, they need a consistent experience with your brand.

As new channels create new opportunities to communicate with patients and potential patients, an integrated approach is critical. If this is something you’re struggling with as you begin to assemble your 2011 integrated marketing plan, I encourage you to download our white paper, along with other resources on our website.

Here’s to an integrated New Year!

Best of the Best 2010

Every month, Geonetric hosts free webinars and distributes free eNewsletters full of articles covering the latest trends in eHealth. Curious to see what topics warranted the most interest in 2010? We were – we love to look back and see what topics really resonated with you, especially as we plan for 2011.

Without further ado, here they are: our top five most-attended webinars and most-viewed articles from 2010.

Geonetric’s top five webinars of 2010

  1. Use the Web to Build Community Support
  2. Use Your Site to Support Your Doctors
  3. Connect with Patients on the Go
  4. Healthcare Reform: The Biggest New Mover Campaign of All Time
  5. Keeping it Fresh: A Redesign Roundtable

Geonetric’s top five articles of 2010

  1. Site Redesign: Sometimes You Need to Start from Scratch
  2. Incremental Web Site Improvement: Learning from Agile Development and Lean Six Sigma Methodologies
  3. How Do You Use the Web to Support Your Key Service Lines?
  4. It’s All About the Experience
  5. Building (Digital) Bridges from Hospital to Physician

You can view our articles, white papers, webinars and more in our eHealth resource center.

Looking forward to 2011, we can’t wait to share more resources on timely topics in eHealth with you. To get started you can view our upcoming webinars on how to manage diverse audiences and multiple web presences effectively.

Happy New Year from Geonetric!

The Best Path to a Valuable Patient Portal

As meaningful use creates increasing focus on patient portals, we’re hearing rumors and questions about the lessening importance of the traditional website. Or worse yet, that I.T. – working with a software vendor – owns responsibility for the hospital’s patient portal, and marketing – working with an agency – manages the organization’s website.

Here at Geonetric, we look at it differently. We believe a strong website, built on a robust content management platform, creates the foundation that’s needed for an effective patient portal. And we believe I.T. and marketing need to work together to make this a reality. Here’s why.

First, your website and patient portal need to share a common user experience . Marketers have already learned that website visitors don’t want to wade through navigation that mimics your organizational chart to find information or have to enter technical terms – like clinical cardiac electrophysiology – into your site search to find a heart specialist. And I.T. knows that asking patients to remember separate logins for distinct platforms with differing levels of usability creates a logistical nightmare. Both are correct – and the two teams working together will create an integrated user experience that ensures adoption.

And your website needs impressive functionality that can be shared with your portal. Marketing understands the value of cross promotion and putting information at the user’s fingertips. This translates into interactive capabilities that engage your site visitors. If a visitor is researching a newly diagnosed condition, does your site show the related locations for treatment and detailed information about related providers? Does it filter appropriately to avoid wading through a list of doctors that are outside the preferred traveling distance or don’t accept the necessary health insurance? Does it automatically offer related classes or events that introduce the visitor to your hospital and begin to drive a deeper relationship? As we move to the patient portal, that level of interactivity becomes even more personalized – reinforcing a medication regimen or helping a patient interpret a lab result. And I.T. is typically the gatekeeper, managing how that personalized information moves securely from one system to another. So when you add a patient portal to your website, both teams need to work together to ensure functionality that is seamless and provides increasing value to the user.

As you move down the path to implementing your patient portal, look for ways to leverage the skill sets and knowledge from both marketing and I.T. This is the only sure path to aligning your portal with your site and getting the real value you’re looking for. The result of this integrated approach will be a unified online experience – connecting with potential patients and building ongoing relationships.

Building on Your Success

Healthcare marketers don’t need a newsletter article to know that we work in an industry that is constantly changing. Part of that has been the evolving nature of healthcare – innovative surgical procedures to explain, better machines to tout, modernization of buildings and rooms to promote. Part of that has been shifting patient demographics and changes in how consumers shop for healthcare. Part of that has been the explosion of new channels to deliver messages – not just a website, but online marketing to make sure health seekers find that site, plus a host of social media outlets to master.

And regulatory changes are the most recent influence on how healthcare will be marketed and delivered.

With each shift in direction, it is tempting – but highly stressful and unproductive – to start afresh in your marketing approach. At Geonetric, we believe a better approach is to build on your success – in fact, that was the theme of our annual client eHealth Symposium. So how do we help our clients do that?

  1. Start by celebrating your successes. It’s easy to get so focused on what you still want or need to accomplish that you overlook all that you have done. Make sure to take the time to give yourself a pat on the back for your accomplishments. At our client Symposium, we started with a short, energetic video that highlighted the successes of the past year – those of our company as well as those of our clients.
  2. Find time to look for what’s on the horizon. Do you have time built into your busy schedule to look forward and understand what’s coming? If not, you run the risk of putting yourself and your team in a very reactive mode. We started our very packed Symposium agenda with our CEO and eHealth Evangelist putting HITECH, ARRA, ACO, PCMH, and meaningful use into meaningful context.
  3. Learn from others who are doing it right. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time. Sometimes it’s OK to watch what others are doing and adapt it to your specific situation, audience or market. It’s always a Symposium highlight for our client community to network and share success stories with each other.
  4. Make a plan and write it down. It’s true what they say about goals – if you don’t write them down and have a plan, they’re just wishes. At our Symposium, we shared our product roadmap with clients so they know what exciting new features and functionality will be added to VitalSite – and their sites – each quarter in 2011. While the buzz is all around how we’re adapting to reform and improving our Patient Portal, we aren’t forgetting the need to continue our focus on patients and user experience.
  5. Partner with a like-minded vendor. You can’t do it all. Especially when it comes to the technology components. Make sure you’re working with someone that will help your hospital be ready for Stage 1 of the meaningful use criteria without losing sight of the evolving requirements for subsequent stages. Our clients are excited about our Patient Portal and the ways we help them meet their goals.

Your jobs as healthcare marketers will always continue to evolve – and you have the opportunity to grow as well, as long as you manage through the change. The key is to remember to build on the successes you’ve already made and look at the coming changes as opportunities. Marketers always want the opportunity to be more strategic – all this change is giving you the chance!