Creating a Patient-Centered Online Appointment Scheduling Experience

The demand for self-service digital transactions is increasing, and healthcare organizations who provide that option are the more appealing choice for consumers. In fact, 68% of consumers tell us that they’re more likely to use a provider offering appointment scheduling online (Accenture, 2019).

But it’s not enough to provide the option for online scheduling. You need to create a cohesive user experience that delights your consumers. Appointment scheduling is the most crucial moment in the consumer journey, and failure to provide a good user experience could mean the difference between acquiring a new patient and losing them to a competitor.

Unfortunately, most online appointment scheduling experiences today aren’t easy to use. If there are multiple back-end systems involved, the journey is often fragmented, placing the burden on the consumer to connect the dots. This creates a difficult scheduling experience and a frustrated consumer. Potential new patients are often left behind, especially if the patient portal is the only scheduling option. In some cases, this can be the deciding factor in them remaining a potential patient or becoming a new patient.

The result is an experience that at best is on par with your competition—not markedly better. Closing the appointment scheduling gap is critical for driving business growth and improving your consumer experience.

Meeting Consumer Needs Through User-Centered Design

How do we create a digital experience that resonates with consumers and moves our business forward? It starts by focusing on the end user: your consumers.

Too often, software developers allow internal bias, our own assumptions, technology, and cost and time savings to drive our strategic direction and design. But with a user-centered design approach, we use UX research to make evidence-based decisions and create a solution that truly works for our end user. This allows us to go beyond our assumptions and get to the hearts and minds of our consumers so we can better meet their needs.

While this process is often skipped for the sake of cost or time, it’s an investment that pays off in the long run by eliminating risk and reducing downstream costs. Even more importantly, you’ll create an experience that is better for the consumer and improves your ROI.

Creating a Consumer-First Online Appointment Scheduling Experience

As Geonetric set out to re-imagine the online appointment scheduling experience, we created our solution through a user-centered design process. It was important that the solution be fully optimized based on deep UX research, design thinking and user testing, so that it would exceed consumers’ expectations and deliver results for healthcare organizations.

We gathered initial inspiration for the solution by evaluating online booking experiences across many industries—travel, e-commerce, food and beverage, ride-sharing apps, and more. This gave us a solid understanding of the kinds of functionality and experiences consumers were familiar with and expect to see.

After gathering ideas for potential solutions, we didn’t move directly into design and development. We conducted UX research through user testing to gather consumer feedback and validate our ideas. This would identify barriers or areas of confusion that we needed to refine. While this research took additional time up-front, it will pay off in the long term by creating a better, more streamlined user experience.

To conduct this research, we created a functional prototype and tested the solution with actual consumers using real-life scenarios. What we learned was invaluable.

Some insights we uncovered were:

  • The importance of insurance and how it affected consumers’ decision-making during the scheduling process
  • Validation of ideas for new features, such as the option to select an appointment time that is the soonest available
  • Areas of confusion in the user interface and functionality, such as the date selector, progress bar, and location filter
  • Adjustments we needed to make to wording to provide more clarity, such as “preventative care”
  • The desire for additional features, such as the ability to share appointment information with a family member after it was scheduled
  • Validation that overall solution was desirable and very easy to use

“I don’t see where it would drop down. I don’t like it. I don’t understand what it’s going to do.”

“I didn’t know that the bar would drag it down. I assumed that meant scroll.”

With UX research, we can put ourselves in our consumer’s shoes and see things from their perspective. Because we did the research, we knew where the holes were in our solution: what was confusing and what users might struggle with, possibly even causing them to abandon the scheduling process. We got valuable insights to adjust and strengthen the design.

Even more importantly, we validated that our end solution was valuable to consumers, and they were excited to see it and use it. Here is a sample of our feedback.

“My mom isn’t tech savvy and I feel like she could do this easily. Very easy to use.”

“I hope this is something we get to see and use soon!”

This validation from the end user ensures that our time and dollar investments in the design and development will produce good results. Because it’s only through the user-centered design process that we can guarantee we’re creating great, consumer-first experiences that drive business success.

Start with Geonetric

Have you been considering integrating online appointment scheduling into your digital experience? Contact us – we can help from strategy to implementation to reach your digital goals.

Time for a New Web Partner: Planning for Change

It’s a project most healthcare marketers will only encounter a few times in their career. With more than twenty years’ experience launching hundreds of healthcare websites, we’ve seen it all — from the emergency “lift-and-shift” to a “burn the house down” approach. And while there’s usually time to plan, sometimes that’s not the case.

Whether you’re planning to change platforms or partners this year — or you want to be prepared for the unexpected — this webinar will shine a light on common blind spots and provide guidance for a successful relaunch.

Is It Time for a Redesign?

What pushes most organizations into a redesign? It could be for internal reasons, like a brand change or an acquisition. Or, you’ve simply realized that your current site isn’t delivering value anymore.

Regardless of what is driving change, a website redesign offers your organization the opportunity to improve your online brand image, engage and connect with site visitors, and put them on a path to conversion. This popular guide, now in its second edition, will help you determine if it’s time to redesign your website and how to get started if a new CMS is in your future. Download it today, and learn:

  • Common redesign triggers of a full website redesign
  • Why an iterative approach to redesign might be the answer
  • How to better understand your website’s lifecycle
  • How to tell if you need to re-platform alongside your redesign
  • What to consider in a CMS beyond content management, including transactional, personalization, and optimization considerations


Download our White Paper

University Health Partners with Geonetric to Develop DXP Strategy

If your organization has goals to increase patient volume, build robust and relevant patient-first content, and develop more intuitive navigation this case study is for you. Geonetric worked with University Health to increase pageviews for service lines by 11%, organic entrances by 19%, and clicks on navigational elements by 29%.

In this case study, you’ll learn how Geonetric partnered with University Health to:

  • Develop a new content strategy taking a system-centric approach, bringing two microsites into the main site making it easier for site visitors to find information.
  • Make design enhancements, vetted by user testing, featuring large, custom photography and eye-catching calls-to-action.
  • Create six new personas to guide personalization and content marketing efforts, and 78 pages of new user-focused content elevating University Health’s brand and highlighting its academic ties.


Download our White Paper

Redesign Roundtable: When Should Your Organization Consider a Full Site Redesign?

It’s easy to see the benefits of a new site: a fresh look, new functionality, and a better UX. However, the key factors that lead to reimagining your site experience are not always as clear. Join us for a special redesign roundtable featuring experts in UX design, UX content strategy, search engine optimization and UX research as they discuss the signs that a website is no longer living up to its full user and business potential.

What Healthcare Marketers Need to Know about Google Analytics 4

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2021 when information on the timing of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) replacing Universal Analytics (UA) was limited. Google has since provided an expected transition date of July 1, 2023. After this date, UA properties will stop collecting new data. Beginning in January 2024, you may not be able to reference data from UA properties at all.

As a result, the move to GA4 should be a top priority for your team if you haven’t started. By making the change sooner rather than later, you ensure you have historical data available when you can no longer reference your existing UA properties. And in the words of the great philosopher Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast.” Similarly, exporting and saving needed historical data from UA should also be considered and prioritized. If you need help with this task or with safeguarding your data during the transition, please reach out for assistance. We don’t want anyone to lose access to information they’ve worked long and hard to create.

What is Google Analytics 4?

For eight years, the way you measure website traffic and behavior has remained largely unchanged. Google Analytics has been the broad standard, and while they’ve made changes and updates, the overall experience has been consistent since 2012.

Until now.

The version of the platform we all know and love was called Universal Analytics (UA) and was the third iteration of Google Analytics. Then, in October, Google rolled out a new update, GA4. Since then, the digital team at Geonetric has been testing the platform to understand how it affects healthcare websites and what impact it will have on your day-to-day data needs.

What has Google changed?

With this update, Google’s main goal was to make it easier to track users engaging with a website via both browser and app. However, there are changes to the platform—changes both beneficial and challenging—whether a website has a corresponding app or not.

Let’s look into the good and the bad – and what your next steps should be.

The good: Goodbye, bounce. Hello, engagement statistics.

Google is removing the concept of a bounce—a session that does not trigger a second action on the page—and bounce rate from its platform. Digital marketers often rely on that metric as a shorthand to measure user engagement with a given page, or even with a website as a whole, so it may seem like a loss. However, Google is using an Engaged Session and an Engagement Rate instead.

Engagement Rate is the percentage of Engaged Sessions vs. non-Engaged Sessions and the definition of an Engaged Session is any session that includes:

  1. The website or app in the foreground for at least 10 seconds
  2. A conversion event
  3. Two or more screen/page views

This change is particularly beneficial because you can now customize a conversion event to fit the on-page content and user experience. Whether or not there is a direct call to action present on the page, you now better understand how a page is performing.

Better understand your users with expanded event tracking

Additionally, Google is adding the number of data points available to digital marketers. When Geonetric launches a new website, we set up a robust amount of event tracking to ensure our clients have a more comprehensive picture of user behavior over a standard Google Analytics implementation. With the change to GA4, the amount of potential data points you can draw from our tracking has increased eightfold. This enhanced tracking requires set up to take advantage of, but is undoubtedly a great opportunity.

The bad: Missing features and historical data

Besides removing Bounce Rate and the additional set up necessary to take advantage of the new Event Tracking opportunities, there are a few additional challenges that come with GA4 as well.

First and foremost, it is still a new product, and there are a few areas—areas that we may currently rely on in UA—that are either not included or still in progress:

  • Filtering capabilities
  • View options
  • Internal reporting options

Sunsetting of UA

Further, as the future of Google Analytics, GA4 will be the standard. There is no set date for this change, though it will happen just as Universal Analytics supplanted Google Analytics 2. Currently, new Universal Analytics/UA properties can be both created and accessed. In the future, this will likely change, although no one knows exactly when.

Loss of historical data

The most considerable challenge is that data will not be contiguous between UA and GA4. The two iterations are so distant that GA4 does not carry over historical data from its predecessor. When you upgrade, the historical data continues to live in a legacy Universal Analytics property, while a new GA4 property collects information moving forward. This update will make comparing data month-over-month or year-over-year challenging until you have used GA4 long enough to have its own historical data.

Your next steps with GA4

Given the impending loss of historical data, the work needed to migrate event tracking into GA4 format, and the uncertain future of Universal Analytics, we recommend setting up a GA4 property and running it alongside your existing UA properties.

Doing this allows you to build up historical data and get your team and stakeholders used to the new platform, data, look, and feel before a hard switch becomes necessary.

If you’re looking for help, reach out to set up some time with one of our digital marketing experts to discuss the benefits and implications specific to your digital presence. We can go over the next steps necessary and get you started on migrating to the GA4 platform.

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.

Applying a Consumer-first Lens to Your Healthcare Brand Architecture White Paper

Download this whitepaper on the importance of a consumer-first silo-systemization strategy and the common challenges it can help solve for hospitals and health systems of all sizes. You’ll learn tips for how to present your primary brand, sub-brands, and everything else your organization offers, including locations, services, and providers.

You’ll learn:

  • Tactics to understand your target audiences so they can find your organization online and enjoy a positive experience during digital touchpoints
  • Guidance to create your strategy—including when content silos are the right choice to represent your brand(s) online
  • When you should tear silos down and apply your system strategy to promote your services and locations


Download our White Paper

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.

Balancing Local Care and System Strengths: Finding Success with a Unified UX

Most health systems have shifted to a UX strategy focused on a single, unified site. But for many, the ongoing challenges of balancing competing interests and responding to organizational changes threaten to derail the user experience.

How do you represent a complex organization on the web in a way that creates good user experiences and supports business goals? That’s no easy task and there’s no set playbook to follow. But there is a common path to arriving at your right answer: Your target audiences. When you put their expectations, preferences, and needs at the center of your strategy, you’ll create an effective, meaningful user experience that drives your organization forward.

Join a team user experience, content strategy and search engine optimization experts from Geonetric and learn the steps you can take to determine the best way to present your brand—and everything that lives within it—online.