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.