Responsive Design is a Journey, Not a Destination

Highway with arrow, illustrating the responsive design journey

We’ve been talking about Responsive Design for a long time. In truth, Geonetric was one of the first healthcare Web firms to promote the benefits of this approach in our industry. With the explosion of new devices, form factors, and formats like Windows 8’s touchscreen computers and convertible laptop/tablets, it’s more important than ever to evolve our thinking from “the mobile Web” to a “Whole Web” philosophy.

The initial goal of Responsive Design was simply to deliver all of the content and functionality on our websites to the mobile audience. And it accomplished that. Adobe Flash® features went out the window. Mouse-over menus were outfitted with touchscreen friendly navigation support. And content was prioritized to keep the most important items visible as screens got smaller and smaller.

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How Healthcare Marketers Can Improve the Mobile Experience

Cover of April 2 edition of Alert! magazine featuring responsive design

With the dramatic rise of mobile-enabled devices, healthcare marketers are looking for new ways to connect with mobile users. Stand-alone mobile sites and mobile apps just aren’t cutting it.

It’s time to consider a whole new approach to the mobile Web. One that is much more efficient for healthcare marketers to maintain and improves the mobile experience for visitors to your website.

It’s called responsive design.

Responsive design enables a website to automatically adjust to the device being used. Every site visitor has an optimal experience regardless of whether they are accessing the website with a Smartphone, tablet or on a desktop computer.

Geonetric’s Vice President Ben Dillon shares how Cone Health and Rush-Copley Medical Center leverage responsive design in his latest article “Connecting With Mobile Users: Responsive Design Offers a New Approach” which appeared in Issue 2, 2013 of the Healthcare Strategy Alert! published by the Forum for Healthcare Strategists.

Check out the article and see how responsive design helped these healthcare organizations meet their online goals.

eHealth Symposium 2013: Creating, Innovating, Pushing Boundaries

Last week we held our 8th annual eHealth Symposium. Clients from all over the country came to Iowa to work together on pushing the boundaries of healthcare marketing. With a jam-packed agenda of topics ranging from the latest website design trends to agile marketing methods to newsjacking, clients left with brains full of new ideas, knowledge and relationships:

Clients also received a healthy dose of Iowa hospitality, which consists of overwhelming friendliness, and over-the-top food:

It helps that we hold the event at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, which is unlike any hotel you’d expect to find in Iowa:
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Three Ways to Improve Your Landing Page

number-pathIt doesn’t take long for website visitors to make decisions. Within a few seconds, they’re either taking the next step to interact with your organization or(gasp!) moving to the next site.

Your landing page plays a huge role in which choice your visitors make.

Here are three easy things you can do right now to improve your landing pages:
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Is Your Future Site Headed Toward Responsive or Mobile-Optimized?

SHSMD March/April 2013 Spectrum Newsletter featuring an article on mobile and responsive web designWondering what kind of mobile website you should build?

I’ve got some news for you. You already have a mobile site. Whether you think about it as mobile or not, the site your hospital has right now is being accessed by smartphones and tablets.

What kind of experience are those site visitors having?

If you’re not sure, it’s time to make mobile a priority. You have two main options for presenting online content to your growing mobile market. The first option is to create a mobile-optimized site that is separate from your main website. The second option is to have one website built using responsive design, which allows it to adapt to different screen sizes.

Both options are better than not having any mobile-optimized presence; but choosing one path for your mobile future is important.

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What Disney Can Teach Your Doctor’s Office

Our family did something a little different this Thanksgiving. Rather than the traditional turkey, parades and football – we headed down to Disney World with my parents, my brothers and their families.

If there’s one thing that Disney does well, it’s creating an immersive experience that allows the child in all of us to suspend our disbelief and accept talking mice and dancing teapots. Disney’s built a leadership institute that teaches other organizations to apply the operating philosophy they’ve developed for maintaining that experience and delighting visitors at every turn.

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The Business Case for Responsive Web Design

Smartphone with an image of a dollar sign on the screenWe’ve talked a lot about how mobile strategy is changing. We’ve examined why mobile is so important and how changes in Web access is leading to the need for responsive sites. We’ve discussed how responsive web design works and given tips for constructing content in responsively designed sites. We’ve even created an awesome video to introduce responsive design concepts.

Now let’s put all this together into the overall business case for creating a responsive site.

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Becoming the Amazon of Healthcare

Healthcare marketers spend a lot of time thinking about how their website compares to other hospital websites. They even put a lot of energy into figuring out which sites to evaluate. Do you look at how you compare to peers around the country, or to that competitor up the street?

Although useful, this information doesn’t give a complete comparison. That’s because you don’t just compete with hospital sites – they don’t set consumer expectations. Consumers spend over 13 hours each week online, and most of that time isn’t spent on hospital websites.

When consumers come to your site, they don’t care how it stacks up with national healthcare leaders. They compare your site to the sites on which they spend serious time.

Look at popular sites across the Internet like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Expedia, Kayak, Mint and others. They all help consumers make decisions and complete transactions. And they create great experiences – consumers easily interact with the site and feel good about the purchases they make.

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Snow Globes and Security Checkpoints

I was standing in a lengthy security line at LaGuardia Airport last month, when I came upon this sign.

My first response was, “Seriously?” My second response was, “And now you tell us?” Because a traveler needs to know about the sanction on snow globes before they get to the security checkpoint. In fact, wouldn’t the right time to share this rule come before you fork over cash for the snow globe at the airport gift shop?

Given this restriction, I’m not even sure why they sell snow globes at LaGuardia. My theory is that there are only six snow globes in the entire airport, which are sold at the gift shops, confiscated at security and resold again. But I digress.

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Is it Better to License a Health Library or Write One?

We received lots of great questions during the webinar. More questions than we were able to answer in the hour we had. A few, like this one on licensing or writing health content, were worth answering in a blog post of their own. You’ll see a few more of these trickle out in the next week, but for now let’s tackle this one.

There are some great advantages to utilizing your own, unique, high-quality health content on your website rather than licensing a syndicated content library from a vendor. For starters, the content showcases your expertise as an organization, specifically represents your organization’s approach to specific conditions and protocols for treatment or management, and it’s much more effective from a search engine optimization perspective.

However, my first thought when receiving this question during our recent webinar Intermediate Writing for the Web was – are you nuts?

One of the biggest challenges the health systems we work with face when launching and managing their online presence is content. Tapping the expertise in the organization, getting a clinical review process in place (a must-have for health library content), and building the thousands of pages needed for coverage of general health topics is a tremendous undertaking. One that most healthcare organizations will choose not to take on.

I think the underlying question being asked here is better phrased as, “What is the role of a licensed health library on my website?” So let’s dig into that question in a little more detail.

Few organizations are going to take on the task of writing a reference guide for diseases, conditions, symptoms and treatments. It is done from time to time, but it’s rare. Mayo Clinic’s done it and, as they so often do, have worked to monetize that asset in a variety of ways (through their consumer site and by licensing), but most of our organizations don’t have the resources of Mayo Clinic.

National Jewish Health in Denver has done it as well. It made sense for them for two reasons – first, they’ve been the #1 ranked respiratory hospital for 15 years so they felt that licensing content from a third-party talking about those areas where they are the world’s top experts seemed to undermine the brand. Secondly, and just as importantly, this approach was possible because they are a specialty facility with a manageable number of conditions to cover. So the task, while large, was far more reasonable an undertaking than what a traditional community health system would need to tackle.

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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.

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Winning the Content Battle with Strategy

Do you know the stages of the ever-evolving Web content lifecycle? How about what makes your online content effective? To be successful in today’s online world, website managers need to approach content strategically. They need to know who their content is targeting and how to stay consistent across both online and offline media channels.

In the March 2012 edition of Healthcare Marketing Report, Geonetric’s Ben Dillon explains not only what content strategy is, but also why it is so important to healthcare marketers. Ready to learn more? Read Ben’s article, “Winning the Content Battle with Strategy.”

Nielsen Misses the Mark on Mobile

Image of a laptop, tablet and smartphone showing the same content“Good mobile user experience requires a different design than what’s needed to satisfy desktop users. Two designs, two sites, and cross-linking to make it all work.” – Jakob Nielsen

“Interesting, but no.” – Me

It’s been a time of explosive growth for mobile internet use and healthcare websites are no exception.  We’ve seen average growth of 300% in mobile visits to hospital and health system Web properties! It’s no surprise, therefore, that we’re spending a lot of time exploring solutions for better serving mobile visitors.

Through that exploration, our understanding of mobile Web usage has evolved as devices have progressed and consumers have become increasingly savvy in their use of these tools.

So I was quite surprised to read the opening quote from Nielsen which feels like an outdated approach.

Reading through Nielsen’s writings on mobile, he makes the following observations:

  • Traditional websites are very difficult to use on mobile devices
  • Sites designed to be optimized for mobile devices don’t serve desktop users well
  • Both mobile and desktop users are best served (i.e. best able to complete tasks) by Web interfaces that are optimized to their personal use cases

All of which is very logical. From that, Nielsen concludes that you should have separate sites for mobile and desktop. Further, your mobile site should not only have an optimized user interface, but should cut features and content to support the mobile use case.

This is what Geonetric’s been doing for mobile visitors for the past several years.

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Improved Health Literacy Won’t Fix Healthcare

In many of the discussions about creating empowered, engaged patients, I hear a common theme: that improving the general health literacy of Americans will largely solve the problem. It’s a view that, in hindsight, I’ve generally agreed with. If only health consumers understood the problems, challenges and tradeoffs of healthcare more fully we would stop bad behavior and when injury or illness occurred, we would make better decisions.

I have come to the conclusion that I’ve been wrong.

This idea has been percolating for a few weeks in the back of my mind after listening to a podcast debating a similar question for financial products. The always thought provoking Freakonomics podcast, an extension of the successful books of the same name, looked at the question of financial literacy as a way to prevent the next financial crisis.

We know the recent financial crisis had many causes, but at the bottom of the food chain were a lot of individual consumers who took out loans they couldn’t afford. Some of those loans couldn’t be afforded because the monthly payments were simply outside what’s reasonable for that individual’s income while others were very complex instruments in which payments ramped up dramatically over the course of the loan and, in some instances, included expensive penalties which made refinancing all but impossible.

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With One Hand Behind Their Back

Healthcare is awash with difficult decisions. Patients need to choose between treatment options that having no guarantee of working. Care providers are on the other end of that decision process, evaluating what options are worth sharing with patients and their families and which are not. Payers have an entirely different role in the process, attempting to encourage appropriate use of healthcare resources by choosing to pay for certain procedures and not for others.

There’s no question that it’s a messy process. Differing groups with differing priorities all weighing in on the same choices is a recipe for conflict. The conflicts bubble to the surface when someone says no on  an issue when someone else wants the answer to be yes.

This issue has come up more and more often and we’re going to have more issues in the future. Drug shortages in recent years have forced some facilities to choose one patient to receive a particular medication while another does not. In other scenarios we see healthcare providers stockpiling medications, protecting their patients in the process but exacerbating shortages elsewhere. Likewise, as attempts to rein in healthcare costs continue, more patients in dire circumstances will get treatment pre-approval requests rejected.

This happens every day, and families are most often the ones left feeling disappointment and anger. Typically, though, these discussions, decisions, and the aftermath play out behind closed doors.

What happens when they don’t?

What happens when a disappointed family turns to social media and through a clever bit of jujitsu uses your own success in social media to turn your fan base against you? How do you respond?

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