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.
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.
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.
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?
- 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.
- 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.
The term “patient-centric” is getting a lot of use these days. But it’s always been more than just a buzzword at Geonetric. Over the last 10 years, we’ve spent a lot of time helping hospitals build websites that focus on making the online experience as valuable as possible for their site visitors.
We first began speaking on the value of building “patient-centric” websites five years ago – and even since then, the words “patient-centric” have taken on new meaning. And they won’t mean the same thing five years from now.
Why this focus on patient-centricity? First of all, health information seekers have increasingly high expectations of the Web. As a result, healthcare websites are evolving. No longer are patients satisfied with pages of static content. Now they expect the ability to interact with providers and with other patients in personalized and meaningful ways. Second of all, health seekers are searching not only for information to manage their own health; the likelihood is that the site visitor is searching for information for aging parents, young children, or a spouse. So the site needs to be robust, easy to use, logically organized, relevant, and interactive. That’s a lot to ask!
There are a number of tools we employ in these efforts. Each year, we conduct primary research that helps us understand the direction and goals of hospitals’ online efforts. We also perform research to find out how patients use the Web and what their expectations are for connecting with their health providers online. Plus, we study how the online world is evolving and what it means for healthcare. For instance, social media – not even on the radar for most marketers five years ago – is an increasingly important way to connect with patients today.
Geonetric has always created highly accessible sites for our clients. But with an increasing number of people using mobile devices, the term “accessible” these days has a much broader meaning. That’s why we’ve begun to create separate mobile sites that enhance the user experience, offering focused content, easy navigation and fast access to vital information…all on the smallest of screens. Read more about three of our most recent successes.
Southern Regional Health System uses its mobile site to reinforce its reputation as a technological leader in the Atlanta area. The site allows mobile device users to easily search and retrieve information on doctors and locations, find phone numbers, learn about the organization and access Google maps.
The mobile site Geonetric created for Methodist Medical Center of Illinois (MMCI) offers emergency room wait times and symptom navigator – because obtaining important health information on a mobile device can make all the difference when time is of the essence.
An intranet site can be a powerful tool to improve transparency and internal communications – but only if it’s user-friendly and highly-functional. And of course, it needs to reflect the organization’s brand and extend information already being distributed on the Internet site.
Those were the challenges presented as we kicked off an intranet project with Southern Regional Health System earlier this year.
On the plus side: 1) we’d already partnered with them to deliver a highly successful Internet site, so we were knowledgeable about their hospital’s brand and messages, 2) we’d developed great working relationships with their awesome marketing team, and 3) our VitalSite software makes it incredibly easy to distribute content ownership to many departments while maintaining control over brand standards.
Robust search capability – whether from a search engine or once a visitor is on your site – is critical to the success of your site. We’re excited to announce that our current VitalSite release is packed with new and improved search functionality.
Enhancements to search engine optimization
We’re a bit picky about how our software works with Google, Bing and the like. So we’re continually refining how it renders pages for better rankings in search engines. We added several new features designed specifically to tailor content for our clients and our internal SEO experts:
- Individual provider directory listings now have HTML page titles that are configurable for each doctor. The titles were automatically generated before; you can now customize them.
- VitalSite manages canonical URLs for you automatically, making sure you don’t get penalized by Google for content that may appear on multiple pages.
This builds on several enhancements in our previous release (in March) that were also designed to influence Google’s ranking of content in VitalSite.
Geonetric is honored to partner with leading hospitals and health systems across the country. As our client health organizations change and grow, their Web sites need to keep pace.
We recently worked alongside Abington Memorial Hospital’s team as their organization evolved into a health system. Their new corporate identity – Abington Health – required them to rebrand their presence in the eastern Pennsylvania market.
Tri-City Medical Center, one of the newest additions to the Geonetric client community, is itself community owned and operated. So when their team evaluated Web partners, Geonetric was a great fit.
Because we’re healthcare-specific, we understand their unique situation and goals. Because we’re technology experts, we can deliver software that is robust and flexible – allowing TCMC to build a separate hospital and foundation sites on a single platform. And because we’re equally passionate about building and supporting a great community, we understand the importance of helping them showcase the many ways they support their community – from sharing emergency department wait times to highlighting their sponsorship of the Carlsbad Marathon.
We’re proud to support TCMC’s mission and look forward to a long and mutually-rewarding partnership. And we echo their tagline, “We’re Always Here for You.”
Check out their new site at http://www.tricitymed.org/.
Five months ago, Geonetric began working with Dean to create their new Web presence.
Like most organizations faced with choosing a new online partner, Dean was wary about vendor promises versus their ability to deliver. Because all vendors make promises in the sales process, right?
But could Geonetric really meet Dean’s deadlines? Stick to the budget? Deliver a “Wow!” user experience? Deliver software that was powerful but flexible enough to meet the needs of the clinics and doctors as well as the health plan? Configure the provider database so Dean could manage it centrally but display the right doctors for the right clinics and the right networks…and meet NCQA requirements?
Every month Geonetric distributes Webinars and eNewsletter articles on timely topics in eHealth. And if you’re like me, your to-do list just doesn’t allow you to catch as many Webinars and read as many articles as you want.
That’s why we’ve compiled our “Best of 2009” – a list of the top-attended and top-downloaded Webinars and articles from 2009. The Webinars are available for you to listen to in your downtime… maybe this week while the office is half-empty, you can find time to check out a few.
Geonetric’s top five Webinars of 2009
The holiday season is here once again. We just finished our traditional Thanksgiving feast at Geonetric (complete with turkey, stuffing, potatoes and side dishes along with assorted pies and desserts). It’s a great way to celebrate with our work family and kick off the Thanksgiving weekend. It’s also a valuable time to reflect on all that we are thankful for.
In celebration of the spirit of Thanksgiving, we asked our fellow Geonetric employees what they’re thankful for this holiday season. Here are some of their responses:
The day a client’s new site goes live is obviously exciting. But for most of us at Geonetric, what’s really exciting comes in the weeks after go-live.
After the dust settles and the excitement dies down, we provide our clients a post launch report. In other words— tangible results they can take to their stakeholders and show the value the new site is providing.
We were just reviewing the launch report for one of our latest success stories and let’s just say –the first two weeks were pretty impressive.
Since spring, I’ve been putting off having my house painted, wavering between, “I can do this myself,” and “Maybe I should hire a professional crew.”
I see the same mental tug-of-war when I’m talking with hospital marketers. They know their Web site needs a lot of work. “At the very least,” they say, “it needs a ‘new coat of paint’ to freshen it up. But there are some areas where it could use a lot more focus from a professional.”
So when do you decide to take the DIY approach and when do you hire an expert? In my case, I decided to hire professional painters and, by chance, attended a kick-off for a project with a new client the same week. I found some strikingly common themes for making that difficult DIY vs. hire decision, namely that the professionals:
Accurately estimate the scope of the project.