Listen to Your Audience

According to a study from Google and Compete, Inc., most patients (61%) visit at least two health system websites before converting, and 88% of users are less likely to return to a website with a bad user experience.
Hopefully, the consumer’s online search leads to either a:

  • Click through to your organization’s website—and a positive, reassuring website experience that makes it easy to find information and complete tasks
  • Zero-click conversion when the user finds what they’re looking for or takes action on the search engine results page (SERP) without needing to click through to your site

Challenge & Opportunity

The best healthcare website experiences challenge the assumption healthcare must be complicated. They make it easy for users to find information in a way that matches their expectations. Consumers appreciate humanized, meaningful experiences that feel intuitive and reassuring.

That’s why it’s essential to put the user at the center of your strategy. The average healthcare consumer has little to no knowledge of the healthcare industry or your organization’s internal structure. And why should they? What’s important to them is getting the best care for themselves or a loved one. Depending on why they seek care, they may feel unwell and vulnerable. If you can simplify the journey to get care, so it feels almost effortless, you’ll earn gratitude and loyalty—and stand out from the competition.

Identify & Investigate

To understand consumer expectations and needs in your market, first, identify and prioritize the target audiences you want to reach through your digital marketing and communications efforts. Ask:

  • What are their interests and preferences when getting care or interacting with healthcare organizations or providers online?
  • What are their abilities when accessing, understanding, and making choices about health information?
  • What are their assumptions or beliefs about your brand, services, locations, and providers?
  • What tasks do they want to accomplish when they visit the website?
  • Do they see themselves reflected or addressed in website navigation structures, content, and design?
  • What message has resonated in the past? What didn’t perform as expected?

Do the Research

Combine data that are quantitative (numerical) and qualitative (nonnumerical, such as attitudes and experiences) to get the clearest possible picture. Plan to conduct research activities on an ongoing basis, setting benchmarks and comparing findings to understand market evolution.
There are various tactics to gather data. Here are a few examples of activities that could answer specific questions relevant to your strategy.


Example Tactic(s)

Gather attitudes, opinions, and experiences on a brand, product, or service
Focus groups, patient and family advisory council input
Understand how a user engages with a product or service
Online user testing and surveys, website analytics, social media engagement
Understand the demographic makeup of your target consumers and their health concerns and abilities
Community health needs assessment, U.S. Census demographic data, health literacy statistics, etc.
Understand the interests and terminology used by target consumers
Keyword research


Take the Next Step

Knowing your audience is essential to optimizing your website for users. Learn more by attending Geonetric’s upcoming webinar on applying a consumer-first lens to your healthcare brand architecture, downloading our new white paper, or contacting our team.

Content Governance: How to Get Control of Your Healthcare Web Content

Your website is constantly evolving, and that’s why having a governance framework is essential. Healthcare organizations like yours seek guidance on how to establish internal accountability, define roles, and assign decision-making authority. Content governance can help avoid confusion, keep your content current, get internal buy-in, and improve your digital experience.

Signs you need help

It’s common to feel that your content is in a constant state of chaos, but you don’t have to. Your organization would benefit from content governance if you:

  • Don’t have a consistent voice and tone throughout your website
  • Don’t know what content exists on your website
  • Struggle to maintain existing content
  • Experience delays in getting content published because of inefficient content development, editing, and review processes
  • Are unclear who approves the final content
  • Have pages that haven’t had an update in years
  • Have duplicate content
  • Grapple with too many urgent, high-priority content requests
  • Struggle to find content assets in your digital asset manager (DAM)

What is content governance?

Content governance is a plan to achieve your internal content strategy. It’s the framework that helps your team keep track of all the moving parts and determine how content gets created, reviewed, and published.

Benefits of governance

Maintaining good content on your website is vital to the user experience and your brand. It produces better results – for both end-users and your organization.

Internal benefits

Having a practical governance framework in place helps you:

  • Align content with overall strategic direction, brand voice, and goals
  • Increase productivity, accountability, and collaboration
  • Resolve conflicts and questions more quickly because you can refer to  agreed-upon procedures and direction
  • Build a scalable and repeatable content operation process  for current and future content contributors
  • Protect your content from internal requests that don’t meet the priorities of your target audiences
  • Reduce risk to reputation and legal status
  • Enhance brand with consistent, high-quality experiences across digital properties

Audience benefits

Governance helps you create a better user experience. When you implement a solid content governance plan, your website visitors may find it easier to:

  • Accomplish their top tasks
  • Get to know your brand
  • Know what to expect when they engage with your organization online
  • Find relevant, up-to-date information

Governance framework

The main components of content governance include people, process, documentation, and training. Let’s look at each more closely.

Cotent Governance Chart


The first element of the framework is the people. It:

  • Defines “who” and “what”
  • Establishes roles, responsibilities, and decision-making authority
  • Considers your core team, content contributors, and stakeholders


Processes will get your team on the path to creating high-quality content with fewer delays, misunderstandings, and frustrations. Process:

  • Defines “when,” “where,” and “how” to get content moving through your organization efficiently
  • Establishes workflows related to planning, creating, publishing, and maintaining content


Documents can pave the road for consistency and quality at your organization. Documentation:

  • Defines “why” and “how”
  • Establishes standards, policies, guidelines, and tools to encourage consistent, quality content
  • Serves as a “single source of truth” to resolve confusion or conflicts

Content documentation examples include:


Training makes sure everyone has the information they need to put your governance plan into action. This piece of governance can include different types and levels of training depending on roles and responsibilities.

Training examples:

Where to start

In an ideal world, content governance starts early – before you begin writing content, designing layouts, uploading media, and publishing pages. However, your organization can benefit from moving forward with improving your governance anytime. Governance may fit seamlessly in your project timeline if you:

  • Are ready for a redesign
  • Hire a new team member
  • Have changes in your organization or brand
  • Have new content needs
  • Hear concerns or complaints from stakeholders
  • Implement new technology or features

Content governance tips

How to get started

As your website evolves, your governance plan should too. The key to getting started on developing or maturing your governance plan is to start by understanding where your team or organization is at today.

Contact us before you create your governance plan. Geonetric’s experts can facilitate discussions, share examples of approaches that have worked for other healthcare organizations, and help teams move governance documentation forward while still accomplishing day-to-day work.

How Topic Clusters Improve SEO & UX

Topic clusters provide an excellent opportunity to empower your healthcare search engine optimization (SEO) efforts with targeted, local keywords and content that feel personable and customized. Plus, you don’t always have to redesign your entire site to take advantage.

Your prospective patients will feel like they’re experiencing a personalized journey rather than a narrow corridor leading them to a conversion point or an aimless path toward a possible destination. Even if the main goal is still to bring the user to your conversion point, making it a smoother process will leave a fantastic impression, increasing the chance they’ll commit once they reach that point.

However, do not mistake this relatively new strategy as an SEO vanity project. Search engine algorithms now favor robust topic structures above other forms of content.

What are topic clusters?

In many ways, topic clusters are an extension of building a content matrix tailored to a modern user experience. Topic clusters gather individual pieces of a complex subject and provide an organized, digestible content structure for humans and machines alike. This process starts with identifying pillar pages—pages that provide an overview of a specific topic covered on your website. Each pillar page then connects with subpages that expand upon that topic.

The end goal of topic clustering is to collect all content surrounding subjects into one interconnected section on the site. This has unique benefits for healthcare systems, as well.

What are the benefits of topic clusters?

While the main goal focuses on backend site structure, topic clustering also provides users with a clear path toward the content they’re seeking, without fear of becoming lost in the wrong section. By creating an internal linking strategy that only connects internal topics and their pillar, someone learning about your oncology services won’t stumble into pediatric primary care without intent.

Implementing a topic cluster strategy provides:

  • A streamlined user experience
  • A navigation structure that’s easier for bots and users to understand
  • Improved content visibility, improving user comprehension without overwhelming them
  • Increased content depth, allowing for high-level information as well as in-depth explanations of complex services, procedures and more without cluttering single pages

As with all digital endeavors, it’s important to remember that the user is most important. If the overall user experience has not been considered, it’s possible that their journey through your site takes them through multiple sections, microsites and forms before they arrive at what they’re looking for. This can disenfranchise the user and reduce the chances of them becoming a patient.

Looking to the future, starting the process of a site restructure in 2022 also puts you ahead of the competition as agencies and internal marketing teams adapt to a new methodology.

When considering these advantages, we must first understand why search engine optimization prefer topic clustering.

Understanding intention-focused search algorithms

A new era of search algorithms continues to evolve, starting with Google’s rollout of Hummingbird in 2013, RankBrain in 2015, BERT in 2019, and MUM’s announcement in 2021. These algorithm updates rely heavily on artificial intelligence and machine learning to bridge the gap between a searcher’s intent and search results.

Modern algorithms seek to determine which sites and pages provide the best value for resources or services through context and intent within pages and across site sections.

By connecting content around pillar pages, your site makes a stronger intent-based argument. When Google, Bing, and other search engines send their robots through your site, they understand the metadata, on-page content, structured data, and site layout better than ever without the need for handholding. A site will risk penalties and lose valuable conversions if its structure resembles a bowl of spaghetti.

How do you create a topic cluster?

The steps to creating topic clusters are relatively straightforward.

  1. Understand the current content and structure of your site
  2. Identify your pillar content (the broadest topics)
  3. Pinpoint content that belongs attached to each pillar (subtopics of the pillars)
  4. Map subtopics to the pillar pages

In healthcare, your journey into clustering could start within a content audit of a service line. Let’s take breast cancer as a pillar page. You then outline subtopics that fall within its reach. Some subtopics might include:

  • Prevention & Detection
    • Mammograms
    • Screenings
  • Breast Cancer Diagnosis
  • Breast Cancer Care/Treatment
  • The Breast Care Team
  • Coping with Side Effects
  • Survivorship Care
  • Clinical Trials

screenshot of PIH Health's cancer care section

With this list created, build your new navigation and linking structure to have each item stem from the main Breast Cancer page. From this, map how to link between the cancer types to create sturdy connections between each subsection and subpage, forming a clearer intent for search algorithms.

The goal is to have dense clusters surrounding each pillar with calculated connections to other pillars. This method is built for search engines and users, but also becomes beneficial to identifying any missing subtopics that you might create in the future for each pillar, thus increasing topic depth even more. As you begin to think about all of the different pillars your site might have, the possibilities become endless and possibly overwhelming.

Long-term benefits

Topic clusters provide an opportunity to visualize your current content governance strategy in a new way, as well. Creating a navigation system utilizing this method reduces the possibility of internal debate over where particular pages reside within a framework since it is built for adding new content with ease.

Ask these questions when adding new content to your site:

  • Is this broad enough to be a pillar topic?
  • Which pages are most important for internal crosslinking?
  • Should this be a single page or spread out for deeper exploration of the subject matter?
  • How would the subject fit into our overall site navigation?

By asking these types of questions, you remain focused on creating a lasting structure that pleases prospects and increases conversions.

Kickstart your topic clustering strategy with Geonetric

Check out how we used topic clustering for PIH Health on their new award-winning cancer care content that follows the patient journey through prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care – and then contact us to see how we can help you use topic clustering to improve your user experience.

The Healthcare Loyalty Crisis

The problem is, there is a loyalty crisis in healthcare. It’s never been as strong as many organizations would have liked – and loyalty has only declined through the pandemic.

According to Klein and Partners’ 2020 Wave IV Omnibus Study (December 2020), only 18% of consumers are unwilling to consider switching providers. This is down from 41% of consumers in Wave II of the study (May 2020). That’s a 56% decrease in loyalty in just the last six months of 2020.

This is a continuation of what we’ve been seeing over the last few years, with the pandemic accelerating the erosion of loyalty.

What’s causing the shift in loyalty?

For years, broader macro-trends have been impacting the healthcare space. There are more players than ever before, from concierge medical practices to Walmart’s rapidly expanding Care Clinics to new telehealth offerings through employers or insurers.

But the emergence of new players and increased choice isn’t the only issue. Health systems also have had a hand in loyalty erosion. Primary care has become more transactional than ever before. In most markets, it’s tough to see your primary care provider (PCP) on short notice. Health systems have been steering their patients increasingly to urgent care instead of their PCP or to a mid-tier provider instead of the PCP. Sometimes, patients are just going to a same-day care option because they can’t get in to see their PCP.

The trouble is that the patient relationship has always been with the PCP. We’ve broken that relationship to a large extent and haven’t been particularly effective in replacing it with a new relationship with the health system.

Pandemic accelerated shifting access options

Over the last 18 months, there were numerous times different services opened and closed, which led to cancellations and rescheduling that was often a suboptimal experience.

Many consumers tried other care delivery alternatives out of necessity, whether at a traditional competitor or a high-convenience alternative like Walgreens or CVS. These other options also became key players for getting vaccines and testing into the community. Consumers tried these options, and for many their experiences were good.

Competition in healthcare is fierce

With such tough, growing competition, how do you compete?

  • Quality: There are some situations where healthcare systems can compete on quality or the availability of specific services, but overall, most services are available from multiple competitors, all with an assumed level of clinical competency.
  • Communication: Electronic health record (EHR) vendors’ patient portals aren’t going to get you there, either, with many health systems in any given market often running the same EHR, some of which make it easier for consumers to share their records between provider organizations.
  • Price: There are a few situations where we can compete on price.  Most services are negotiated with insurers or, in some cases, are regulated by the state.  Consumer-paid services provide some opportunities here, but they seem to be utilized primarily for low-dollar options such as urgent care.
  • Convenience: Easy access to care and consumer experience are the places with the best opportunities for increasing competitiveness. When you can make obtaining services easier and faster, your brand can gain preference.

Addressing the convenience and the consumer experience

There are several strategies for addressing consumer experience.

To date, improving convenience and consumer experience has focused on putting offices closer to consumers, offering better parking, training staff to make the experience better, offering extended hours and improving the availability of appointments.

But what’s next? The new frontier for this experience will take place digitally. What many are referring to as the digital front door:

  • Better information and education
  • Easy tools to find care options
  • Simple and intuitive scheduling experiences
  • Easy online care delivery through telehealth

Learn more about the digital trends driving healthcare in the coming year. Check out our recent webinar on Top Trends in Reimaging the Healthcare Digital Experience. We cover how healthcare organizations use digital to create new competitive differentiation and drive loyalty. Also, check out our latest eBook on building a digital front door and beyond for more tips on supporting consumers in a personal, seamless way that enables self-service.

3 Examples of Award-Winning Healthcare Web Content

Effective healthcare content explains the complexities of a healthcare system, generates traffic, and makes conversions. Web copy can be difficult to structure and develop. But when done correctly, your website benefits from being user-focused, optimized for search and easy for site visitors to take the next step.

What does it take to be award-winning?

Writing effective web content is as much art as science, and our popular guide on Web Writing for Healthcare takes an excellent in-depth look at what it takes to create content your users want. At a high-level, great content:

  • Adheres to best practices for readability and accessibility
  • Cross-links strategically
  • Focuses on the user, particularly your unique personas
  • Follows search engine optimization best practices
  • Follows the patient journey
  • Leverages the right call to action
  • Uses the right voice, tone and style

Check out these recent award-winning medical websites that put those best practices to work and received recognition for developing and delivering engaging content.

2021 award-winning healthcare web content

The 2021 content healthcare award winners have all invested in comprehensive web content strategies and development to strengthen their brand and top their competition. Read on for more details.

University Health

As an academic medical center, University Health, in San Antonio and Bexar County, Texas, used personas to guide personalization and content marketing efforts, earning them a Platinum MarCom award for Web Content.

With the redesign goal of making their website more system-centric and easier for site visitors to find the information they need quickly, University Health used:

  • Crosslinking strategies to connect services, providers, and locations sitewide
  • Strategic drop-down menus in the main navigation
  • Sophisticated taxonomy to help users get helpful site search results
  • Links in its expanded footer to address secondary audience needs

University Health's Device Family

The new content used personas, created from consumer research and web analytics, to write compelling content for service lines, campaigns and content marketing hub articles. These comprehensive, patient-first pages showcase University Health as an understanding, expert academic health system. This approach aligns with the organizational goal to enhance its brand in the community and highlight its alignment with UT Health San Antonio.

To keep the content user-focus, University Health worked with Geonetric to:

  • Create content for University Children’s Health pediatric transplant program and pediatric cancer services
  • Develop 78 pages of content for four service lines
  • Restructure and write new content to bring the Transplant microsite into the new University Health website
University Health Pediatric Cancer Center Page
Image of University Children’s Health pediatric cancer services


PIH Health

PIH Health’s new website uses web copy to differentiate their growing health system from their competition across Southern California, earning recognition as a finalist for Ragan’s PR Daily Awards, Patient-Focused Content.

Watch this video (8:33) on how PIH Health makes their content accessible.

PIH Health’s investment in content integrates content from two websites for new, search-optimized cancer and heart web copy that follows the patient journey, web writing best practices and PIH Health’s brand guidelines.

PIH Health Family of Devices

Each section has pages on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up care. This approach follows the patient journey so users can find information relevant to them.

screenshot of PIH Health's cancer care section
Image of PIH Health’s Cancer Care content

The new content highlights the many reasons patients benefit when they choose PIH Health for care and makes it intuitive for users to take the next step with prominent, easy-to-understand calls to action.

screenshot of PIH Health's heart and vascular page
Image of PIH Health’s Heart & Vascular Care content

Montage Health

Montage Health, in Monterey, California, developed user-centric copy for its new website, earning them an Honorable Mention MarCom award for Web Writing.

To boost traffic and engagement, Montage Health’s content:

  • Adheres to proven web writing best practices
  • Answers users’ top questions
  • Follows the patient journey
  • Uses cross-linking strategy

montage health family of devices

Montage Health has 420 pages of new content throughout their new site, including:

  • 48 service line sections (217 pages total)
  • 55 location profiles
  • About us section
  • Accessibility statement
  • For healthcare and professionals section
  • Montage Health Foundation section
  • Patient and family resources section

In addition to new content, Montage Health took advantage of content governance training and recommendations related to their video and classes and events calendar categorization strategies.

Image of Montage Health’s accessibility statement
Image of Montage Health’s accessibility statement

Put the user first, and the accolades will follow

None of these healthcare organizations set out to win healthcare content awards. They approached their web content with the users in mind – enlisting user research, building on personas and following key web writing best practices to tell their story and differentiate themselves from the competition. They also all enlisted the help of an outside content expert – their digital experience agency Geonetric.

Whether you’re re-examining your web content as part of a redesign or as part of an iterative approach to improving your site, depending on the expertise of healthcare copywriters can make the process more effective. Contact us today for a free consult, to sign up for a writing workshop or to outsource your healthcare writing project to our copywriting professionals.

Why User Experience Research is Key to Optimizing Healthcare Websites

Advantages of UX research

UX research serves many purposes throughout the design process. It helps identify and prove or disprove assumptions, find commonalities across target audience members, and recognize their needs, goals and mental models.

When you bring your consumer data into the conversation through implementing UX research early and often, your health system will:

  • Save money by getting your design strategy right the first time
  • Build brand loyalty by giving web users what they want
  • Save time by optimizing solutions before launch
  • Increase conversions by helping consumers find what they need
  • Improve your search engine optimization (SEO) through user-engagement metrics like time spent on page

Types of research methods

As healthcare marketers, we rely on Google Analytics (GA) to help determine if our website is effective for our users. However, GA doesn’t always explain how to fix the problems to make it more user-friendly. That’s where UX research comes in, to help drive optimized solutions. User research methods include:

  • Quantitative data, which are numerical measurements and observations
  • Qualitative data, which are subjective motivations and desires (the “why”)

Why UX research works

Quantitative and qualitative data informs you of your web visitors’ behavior online and what they think about their digital experience. UX research brings valuable insight during each phase of UX strategy and UX design, such as:

  • Planning – Drives strategy and design with up-front research that helps you understand your users
  • Building – Tests strategy and design to give you direction on what’s working well and what to iterate
  • Launching – Brings validation to your strategy and design to help you maximize your efforts
  • Ongoing – Continues to test solutions in real-time, post-launch to keep your site optimized for consumers

Eliminate expense & save time

It costs your organization money when you don’t get things correct the first time, especially when you don’t meet the demands and expectations of your website visitors. This is called UX debt and can happen when you skip user testing, design by committee, or disregard brand and style guides. According to experts in research-based UX, the Nielson Norman Group, UX debt can pile up over time and, if left unaddressed, leads to compounding user problems and costly cleanup.

UX debt you can avoid

It costs your organization money and time if you have to:

  • Redesign and recode
  • Fix elements to meet accessibility requirements
  • Rewrite content for clarity
  • Rework your information architecture
  • Recreate the customer journey

When done correctly, UX research can save you money and eliminate future expenses by getting your website to hit the mark for your target audience and organization before launch.

Build brand loyalty with a competitive advantage

It’s no surprise that since the pandemic, consumers have been more digitally focused. Even people who weren’t tech-savvy before became tech-savvy through frequent online transactions like online shopping and grocery order pickups. Because of this, your website consumers have new, higher expectations of an easy-to-use, intuitive digital experience.

To gain a competitive advantage and give people a site they love, you need to create an experience that gets at the heart and minds of your consumers.

The path to putting you ahead is UX research because it will tell you:

  • What consumers think about your brand or a competitor’s brand
  • Past experiences that lend insight into the patient journey and decision-making, both online and offline
  • Consumers’ first impressions of your website’s design (imagery, colors, layout) and how it reflects on your brand
  • How consumers currently find care online, and how consumers prefer to find care online
  • Which parts of the user journey are the most difficult or confusing to consumers
  • Barriers to the user journey along the most critical conversion paths
  • How the website does or doesn’t meet the user’s expectations
  • Where to invest your dollars based on real consumer feedback

At its core, UX research helps you uncover problems early and capitalize on them as design opportunities.

Improve SEO

UX research drives a robust UX relevant to your users and provides them with a positive digital experience. These custom experiences won’t go unnoticed by search engines.

SEO now factors in the user-friendliness of your website when ranking searches for users. User-friendliness through the lens of SEO looks at factors such as:

  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Core Web Vitals (loading, interactivity, and visual stability)
  • Safe browsing
  • No intrusive interstitials or pop-ups
  • Page load speed
  • UX metrics (dwell time, bounce rate)

When more people can find your healthcare system’s website in organic (non-paid) search results, you’ll increase overall site engagement and continue to make a favorable impact on your users.

Drive conversions and revenue

Once search engines and your consumers see you as a trusted source of information and your website provides a good UX that helps meet their needs and solves their problems, you’ll see an increase in online conversions.

Your website will leave an impression after each initial visit. That’s because consumers are looking to connect with a website that’s easy to use. Once they find one, they’re likely to return even if they don’t convert the first time.

What’s more, if you’re dedicated to iterative optimizations even after site launch, you’ll see a continuous improvement that will help you drive revenue and impact your bottom line.

Hit the mark the first time

Ready to dive into the behavior and minds of your consumers? Contact us – we can tell you how your users behave and how they feel about your services with real-time UX research. You’ll get the chance to be involved in the whole process and benefit from working with a partner who knows what to look for, pitfalls to avoid, and how to translate the results into an optimized digital experience.

A Holiday Message from Geonetric

Shine bright this holiday season. From your friends at Geonetric. Linda Barnes, Ben Dillon, Chris Hartman

5 Reasons WordPress Won’t Support Your Hospital Website Long-term

Hunting for a digital platform

Exploring different digital CMSs is expected when you want to elevate your brand, site security and user experience. When comparing your options, it’s vital to consider your unique needs now and in the future for:

  • Content structure
  • Distinctive design
  • Administration ease of use
  • Evolving functionality features
  • HIPPA compliance
  • Navigation
  • Search engine optimization
  • Security
  • Technical support

The fact is, no two platforms perform the same on all these criteria. One of the most popular platforms in the globally is WordPress, with 37% of all existing websites on it. That’s because WordPress is a good fit for smaller agencies, bloggers and freelancers. What draws the majority to WordPress are the same reasons it can result in a downfall, especially when meeting healthcare system and consumer needs. Let’s take a look at five risks that come with using WordPress and how to avoid them.

#1: Plug-ins cause security vulnerabilities

Healthcare organizations are held to a higher standard than other industries when protecting web and user data. Even the most prolific web CMS out there, WordPress, is the number one target for hackers and virus developers because of outdated plugins.

There are over 54,000 WordPress plugins that allow you to customize and supplement your site. Plugins offer convenient enhancements to your site’s functionality but can be overwhelming and come with risks of technical problems and data breaches, especially if they’re not up-to-date.

With all of the plugin and theme providers compatible with WordPress, it’s becoming harder to be confident of where your organization’s and visitor’s data is going. That’s because many of the plugins don’t have compliance on their radar since they aren’t industry-specific. Because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), it’s worth investing in a platform with established processes and audits around changes and upgrades.

Get healthcare-level security for your website CMS that:

  • Meets HIPPA compliance standards
  • Automatically encrypts sensitive information
  • Has security that controls access to content
  • Has a role-based security permission
  • Receives routine scans for vulnerabilities
  • Can easily create, manage and deploy inclusive, accessible online forms that meet the AAA standards for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
  • Enable workflows that follow HIPAA-compliant form submissions best practices

#2: Common design themes

While WordPress offers thousands of themes to choose from that are easy to use when you want a modern, responsive site fast. The downfall is these convenient themes may make your site look like everyone else’s and not effectively tell your brand’s story.

Don’t limit your design capabilities because of a quick start-up option. Web design is a way to effectively bring your brand to life and connect with your community. Some organizations can take an off-the-shelf WordPress theme and still customize it to their unique needs or find a healthcare-specific CMS that offers fast-to-launch design options built on healthcare user best practices.

If your team doesn’t have a deep bench of designers, you want to partner with industry-leading designers and developers that have experience:

  • Building designs that respond to new technologies and mobile devices
  • Helping visitors complete their top tasks with a responsive design
  • Improving their bottom line by acquiring new patients
  • Keeping user experience top of mind while still executing award-winning and eye-catching designs
  • Reflecting organization’s brand online by showing what makes them unique in the market

#3: Poor content & SEO management

When it comes to small-scale content needs such as a blog or a retail shop with a few pages, WordPress is a well-suited fit because there is no real need for content structure. However, organizations that use WordPress and have a high volume of pages often over tag categories for their content. Google flags these pages as duplicate content, which significantly affects a site’s ranking in search.

Don’t let your CMS hold you back. If you’re like most hospitals, your website has hundreds of pages, and you’d benefit from a CMS that supports real content strategy. That’s because your content strategy serves as your playbook on how content will be developed, created and maintained to make sure your site visitors can quickly find the information they need. It will also dictate how your site connects with your other digital efforts like microsites, portals and blogs.

Look for a CMS that offers an intuitive content structure, so you and your team can easily manage the hundreds of pages of content your website has without any complex issues. Your team’s investment for content management should include:

  • Comprehensive site search and findability
  • Content versioning and rollback
  • Dynamic content and taxonomy
  • Flexible page layouts
  • Intuitive page authoring
  • Governance tools
  • Media library and the file management
  • Multi-site and microsites capabilities
  • Publishing approval workflow
  • Redirect management
  • Reusable content panels
  • Scheduled content publishing and removal
  • Separate development, staging and live environments with role-based permissions
  • Site navigation

#4: Page builders result in poor UX

Organizations on WordPress enjoy the freedom to build interior designs with page builder tools that are flexible and easy to use. Unfortunately, the downside of page builders is that they make it all too easy to create busy, inconsistent experiences for your users. Page Builders have a larger learning curve than you’d expect and often still require some coding knowledge to execute properly. Plus, they don’t always play well with the selected themes. Unless you have a team of web designers and web developers, WordPress page builders can easily negatively affect design and content, two essential elements that make a good website.

Another area organizations struggle with when using page builders is that web administrators often don’t set up their content types in advance. Content types are a critical consideration when you’re developing multiple pages of similar content. As your team expands and technologies change, consistent page templates become an efficient tool for building compelling, expected experiences for your users. Content strategy and user experience (UX) design can help your team determine the best-case scenario for each type of interior page and build recommendations for use cases, layouts and optimal user journeys.

For example, developing content types in WordPress to create individual page templates for different categories — such as blogs, service lines, and locations — ensures each content type has its own look and feel while staying consistent in the experience.

In summary, the cost of a page builder’s simplicity comes with the risk of:

  • Complicated, dense code
  • Limited content, design and functionality
  • No control of usability nor accessibility
  • Not fitting your long-term needs
  • Poor search engine optimization
  • Slow site speed

#5: Code chaos

If you only have one member on your team who understands how your website’s code works, you may have trouble keeping up—and potentially fall behind if that person leaves. When you don’t know how to access your website’s code or understand code, you lose control over design, source and database files, security and functionality. Not knowing code will result in you being inefficient when using page builders. That’s because updates you could do all at once will have to do one by one, like redirects or editing an element that exists on several pages throughout your website.

Any time saved at the beginning from WordPress likely results in more time in the future. If you’re using a WordPress theme, you have to be sure and avoid making changes to the code through the theme editor. Changes to code in the theme editor can introduce problems and risks into ongoing maintenance down the road.

When you use a production or staging environment, you can manipulate code or functionality before pushing it to your live site. It’s essential to have people on your team who know code or partner with a digital agency that does. Then you can be sure there’s a code review process in place to pick apart things that might go wrong while testing your production site in as many browsers and devices as possible.

There’s a better way

The good news is, there is a better CMS option designed specifically for hospital websites. Our popular VitalSite web CMS can help your healthcare brand thrive with a distinguished website that supports your current and long-term digital strategy.

When you build a site for where you’re going, you’ll stay on track and on-trend. Start by knowing your budget, strategy, resources and team’s skillset. Then ask yourself:

  • What are your organization’s goals for the coming year?
  • What are your most important marketing initiatives?
  • How can the website support patient experience initiatives?

Asking and answering these questions with stakeholders and your C-suite will help your team know what your site should be – and what platform you need to get there.

See how healthcare organizations of all sizes have built result-driven healthcare websites on VitalSite, some even coming from WordPress:

Grow with Geonetric

Want to learn more about VitalSite and how to pick the right digital platform for your organization? Contact us – or ask for a VitalSite demo. We can help you create the right-size website to house your content and how to select the tools to keep your website current, flourishing and secure.

And the Winner is: Digital Strategy

Where Leaders Outperform: Digital Strategy

This year marks the 11th survey – with the last three being in partnership with eHealthcare Strategy & Trends – that Geonetric has performed an online survey of digital marketing trends that gets healthcare marketers insightful data.

As part of the survey, respondents are asked to rank their performance relative to competitors in 22 functional areas, from digital advertising and social media to web design and user experience. The responses were then scored and organizations significantly outperforming their peers became leaders, those significantly underperforming laggards and those in the middle are average.

Digital strategy was tied as the third top area for digital leaders and was the second-highest area where leaders outperform everyone else, edged out by content marketing with leaders scoring their digital strategy capabilities almost two full points higher on a -2 to +2 scale!

Agency Perspective: Digital Strategy Has a Long Way to Go

Despite this strong showing from digital leaders, the industry has a long way to go. When we asked agency or other partner respondents for their thoughts on where healthcare is furthest behind other industries, digital strategy took the top spot. Provider respondents put this more in the middle of the pack at number eight (out of 22). This gap illustrates that although provider organizations think they are doing digital strategy well, agencies, who sometimes have a broader view, disagree.

Top Area for Investment: Digital Strategy

Investment in digital strategy continues. In fact, it’s the #1 hot job in healthcare digital marketing for the coming year. Respondents were asked – if you could hire up to three FTEs in the coming year, what roles would you hire, and in what order? Digital strategy received almost two-thirds more votes than the next hot job, which was content development.

Factors Increasing the Focus on Digital Strategy

In summary, the survey results indicate digital strategy is one of the big differentiators of digital leaders, it’s also identified as an area of weakness within digital in healthcare by agencies and consultants, and it’s a top area where health systems are investing in greater capabilities.

Which begs questions like – what’s driving this increased importance on digital strategy and why are we seeing it right now? Here are the top three reasons digital strategy is so important at this moment in time:

#1: The COVID-19 pandemic

Consumer expectations were already evolving pre-pandemic, and the pandemic accelerated that movement at an incredible pace. Healthcare consumers are working more and more often with brands digitally, and those interactions are creating new expectations in healthcare.
Consumers are more comfortable than ever with self-service – but they expect transparency. A person can see every step in the process when they order an item – when it’s shipped, as it travels, and when it’s out for delivery. You can see if the pizza that you just ordered is in the oven yet. Why can’t a consumer see if their doctor’s office is behind before they leave for their appointment?

#2: The redesigned the healthcare experience

Sure, much of the recently redesigned healthcare experience happened out of necessity with the pandemic rather than inspiration, but it happened and it’s continuing to happen. Health consumers don’t want to hang out in the waiting room waiting for their turn – and healthcare providers don’t want them there either!
Making appointments, changing appointments, filling out the pre-visit paperwork, collecting co-pays, even the visit itself – the last 18 months forced many organizations to rethink all the touchpoints of an encounter and ask:

  • What could patients do from home?
  • Could people wait in their cars when they arrive until we have rooms available?
  • Could they text us to let us know they’re here?
  • Could we have them pay co-pays while they’re waiting?

So many of the operational elements that seemed so set in stone just two short years ago have evolved. The answers arrived at during the heat of the moment weren’t perfect, but organizations can continue to iterate because they’re also not going back to where they started.

#3: Competition is tighter than ever before

Just before the pandemic hit, there was a lot of discussion about healthcare competition from new sources – from startups to retail giants to tech firms. That chatter receded to background noise during the constant crisis communications blitz of the past two years, but that doesn’t mean that they went away or stopped developing and innovating.

Competition from traditional players is heating up as well. Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in healthcare are a new normal. A recent Kaufmann Hall report noted 79 M&A deals in 2020, down from 2019’s 92 M&A transactions but still high considering the pandemic. And the pandemic is likely to fuel even more partnerships across healthcare. M&A activity, plus organic growth through new facilities and telehealth outreach, means competitors are entering previously untapped geographic markets.

And through all of this, patient loyalty to individual healthcare brands is at an all-time low as consumers were forced through appointment cancellations, delays, inability to access services, and experimentation with other care options. According to Klein and Partners 2020 Wave IV Omnibus Study (December, 2020), only 18% of consumers are unwilling to consider switching providers. This is down from 41% of consumers in Wave II of the study (May, 2020).

The result is that more consumers are being courted by more healthcare providers than ever before – and consumers are more willing to try something new and different. Increasingly, they’re selecting based on convenience.

The Solution: Digital Strategy

Each of these reasons alone indicates the need to invest in digital strategy. The three converging at the same time mean healthcare marketers are facing a new set of challenges, never seen before – challenges that can only be solved with new thinking.

Health systems can’t just look around at what everyone else is doing and see dozens of examples of exactly what they need to do to compete. They need to develop something new. Moreover, the strategies that they’re developing have more operational implications than ever before. In fact, this year’s survey noted lack of operational support for digital initiatives is now a top barrier for almost all healthcare organizations, not just the cutting-edge leaders as in previous years.

This means all healthcare organizations – from leaders to average to laggards – and working with internal stakeholders to figure out where they go from here. And the only path forward involves strategy development.

Download your copy of the 2021 Healthcare Digital Marketing Trends Survey results and see what big takeaways you uncover!

Integrated Content Marketing Hub Connects and Engages

Silver Cross Hospital is a rarity in the competitive Chicago healthcare market: they are an independent hospital, and they’ve remained that way for the past 126 years. While they are generally considered a community hospital, they compete at a much higher level since they partner with leading Chicago academic institutions for neurology, cancer, pediatrics and rehabilitation. They are home to the most extensive robotic surgery program in the Chicago area. And they are known as the “baby hospital,” with 3,000 births a year and opening their county’s first Level 3 NICU in early 2022.

In 2019, Silver Cross partnered with digital experience agency, Geonetric, to redesign their website with VitalSite content management system (CMS) to take advantage of VitalSite’s integrated content marketing hub was a top priority.

Investing in content marketing

Silver Cross saw the potential of delivering timely content to high-value community members, and in 2012 started IMatter, a site for women who joined the hospital’s loyalty program. The program rewarded women for taking an active role in their health through screenings and scans by giving them discounts at dozens of local businesses that were IMatter partners.

The IMatter website was separate from the main Silver Cross website and offered a blog covering health topics and news stories. The site was a great first step in content marketing but didn’t attract enough traffic or conversions to deliver real value.

When Silver Cross began working with Geonetric on the main site redesign, the team decided to integrate IMatter into the overarching content strategy and give the blog a prominent home on the main site to expand their reach.

Connecting the content marketing hub to organizational goals

As the planning got underway for the new content marketing hub, the primary goals were increasing patient engagement and retention, improving brand awareness and helping with population health initiatives by sharing wellness content. Soon after launching, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and sharing educational content about safety measures also became a top priority for the organization and the new content marketing hub.

Launching Stay Well

The new content marketing hub is known as Stay Well and features a custom design with a large hero image. To improve user experience, Stay Well has filtering to allow users to search by topic or service. Silver Cross’ custom design includes a modern card layout to highlight a featured article and display other content. Stay Well’s integration into the main site has the bonus of displaying related articles on services pages and connected to provider profiles. In addition, Silver Cross’ marketing team can easily share any article on social media.

Silver Cross Hospital Stay Well Marketing Hub

Creating the content

Silver Cross was able to bring timely content over from the former blog to the new content marketing hub. The team adds new stories and videos on topics like upcoming health observances and key service lines. The Silver Cross team incorporates a mix of authors on the hub, including:

  • Doctors who need added promotion or exposure
  • Internal writers
  • Freelancers
  • Patients who share their personal story

Enjoying the results

Since its launch, the content marketing hub has delivered impressive results. When looking at Stay Well landing page entrances for the first eight months:

  • 13% increase in organic search traffic, bringing in an additional 126 sessions
  • 56% increase in social media traffic, bringing in an additional 539 sessions
  • 26% increase in direct traffic, bringing in an additional 251 sessions
  • 5% increase in referral traffic, bringing in an additional 50 sessions

In addition, the team is seeing a lot of success re-using content from the blog on social media. One article that featured a video of a prominent Silver Cross OB-GYN discussing the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy received more than 1,500 views on Facebook.