Staying Competitive: Web Features That Engage Users & Deliver Results

Implement web functionality that enhances user experience on your website and delivers measurable results.

Not sure what features to add to your site next? From physician ratings to appointment scheduling, from personalization to CRM integration, this on-demand webinar looks at what the leading healthcare organizations in the industry are implementing.

Afraid your healthcare website is falling behind? Learn the five key features that leading healthcare organizations are launching next.

Watch this webinar, and learn how to:

  • Create a road map of features to implement that will set your site up for success
  • Prioritize which features are a good fit for your digital strategy
  • Build momentum for your web efforts
  • And more…


[Transcript begins at 00:02:00] Are you afraid that your healthcare website is falling behind? Today, you’ll learn what you’ll need to enhance user experience and deliver measurable results. We’ll cover web features leading organizations are launching, which features are a good fit for your digital strategy, and how to build momentum for your web efforts. As I mentioned, I’m David Sturtz. I’m the digital strategy director here at Geonetric. And over the last 10 years, I have experience leading healthcare brands with their online marketing. Tackled digital marketing challenges from all sides, from consulting on digital strategy to designing user-friendly information architectures, to building the content management software that powers hundreds of websites.

As I mentioned, we’re in the process of tabulating the results from this year’s eHealth survey. And one of the things that we found in the early results was that a lot of healthcare organizations are starting to feel like they’re falling behind in terms of web features and functionality. And that’s why we really wanted to pull this webinar together today and talk about some of those leading trends out there in the industry, where people are headed, and how to maybe find some small wins or to get your momentum going and get you on the right track. As you know, in healthcare things are changing all the time, especially when you’re using healthcare with the internet.

Staying ahead of the organization across town, the people down the street, responding to acquisitions or changing alliances in your market, and just keeping up to date with technology and search algorithms, things like that. And not to mention, customer’s expectations can be a real challenge. So you’re maybe feeling a little bit like your website is kind of falling behind the pack. And so we’re gonna dig into some of those top features that are really leading the industry right now, where we’re seeing a lot of folks focusing and driving for it. And these areas are really around provider ratings and reviews. I talked about this in past webinars, and we’ll just take a quick pass through that just to let you know where things are at in that space today.

Appointment scheduling and virtual visits, I’m seeing a lot of traction there in some different areas. CRM, of course, is a really hot topic. Personalization and really tailoring the user experience on the web to an individual. And then we’re gonna talk about maintaining a solid web foundation. So even though you wanna push forward in all these different areas, under some technical and some just general web phase to keep in mind as you’re moving along. So we’re gonna start with one of the most visible areas on your website, and that really is digging into providers. And what I want you to keep in mind throughout this presentation, really, is that although we’re talking about technology, we’re talking about features and kind of software things.

At this point, I really don’t think technology is the roadblock. It’s not like we’re missing some piece of technology that you need in order to make this stuff happen. Really the biggest challenge is going to be organizational change, personal change, getting people on board with the direction that you need to go, and getting all of the pieces and processes and everything aligned in order to make this happen. And so, throughout we’re gonna sprinkle in some tips about, you know, where to look, where to decide how to focus your efforts. There’s no time in the day to do absolutely everything that you wanna be able to do. So we’re gonna help you have some criteria for picking out which of these might fit best for your organization. And then really how to start on that path to pushing ahead and making some change happen.

So provider rating reviews has been a hot topic for several years now, ever since University of Utah was one of the first to launch these back in late 2012. And we’ve really seen it take off over the last year as more and more organizations are really trying to compete in this space. The physician directory, of course, is one of the most highly visible areas of your website. We see up to 25% of traffic or more page views are going through. The physician directory, the physician profiles, it’s really a highly visible area of the site. For perspective patients, this is the really important task. It’s a complicated task trying to decide which physician you’re gonna choose and comparing them across, you know, multiple different organizations, multiple physicians, and really trying to understand who’s out there and who’s gonna be the best fit for you.

We know from the research, and this is from updated research from just this year, a survey that really aligns, it kind of bumps up the numbers that we’ve seen at previous surveys. We know that a huge number of people are looking at these. So 84% of patients report using online reviews to evaluate physicians. And almost half say that they would go out of networks. They were looking at a similarly qualified doctor who had better reviews. So whether they actually will do that at the end of the day, they definitely think that that’s gonna weight on them a little bit, and certainly, is gonna impact their overall satisfaction with the position that they go in. Decide to stay in that work but aren’t feeling really great about it, that will impact their overall satisfaction.

So a lot of the number that you see out there are from our general study that was back in 2014. Those had the numbers around 60%. So you can see in about two years that they bumped up quite a bit with the prevalence of review sites out there and more familiarity with reviews just across other industries as well. Patients who are really starting to rely on this. Something to keep in mind is that patients use online reviews throughout the process. So it’s not just for new patients, although those are just group 60% or so, saying that they looked at reviews ahead of choosing a physician. There’s also the other 40%. So 20% of those have maybe selected a physician, have, you know, booked out first appointment, and are just kind of checking out to see, “Did I make the right choice?”

Comparing what’s out there and trying to set their expectations on that initial appointment and things that they might be watching out for, kind of those red flags that really tell you about that physician’s bedside manner. And then you’ve got 20% of patients that maybe have had a couple of appointments and are evaluating their current doctor, trying to see how they stack up against other physicians that are out there. And maybe they’re thinking about making a switch. So this is important to keep in mind that, while we really focus on attracting new patients, if that’s not part of your strategy to, you know, you’ve got your physician saying, “We’re overbooked or full. We don’t need necessarily more patients.”

There’s also 40% of this that really is about retaining the patients that you think you have. And so, it’s something that you’d be considering even in those scenarios. The reason that reviews are so critical and so important for patients really comes back to what patients are looking for, why they’re choosing a doctor, and what patients view as being high quality. So first off of that, you can see here, the most important to that criteria is that they listen and that they’re attentive. So these are very qualitative things. This isn’t a particular board of certification or a particular university that they went to, a place that they did their residency. They wanna know those different bedside manner types of qualities. And one of the best ways to communicate that is through the experiences of other people.

And so you say, “Okay, we can do this three testimonials. We can, you know, use a lot of copyrighting in order to boost this up and talk about their bedside manner.” Really, nothing, you know, passes that through those filters as easily as hearing just that direct view from another person that’s been in that situation and hearing what their experience was. So that’s why review’s been really effective. We’re helping to communicate those qualitative features of a physician without having to go back and rely on kind of marketing speak to talk about how caring and attentive they are. One thing that you may experience and have kinda called out here in a Washington Post article. There’s a disconnect, a lot of times, between how physicians view how people choose physicians and how patients actually view that.

Physicians, a lot of times, are really focused on clinical results and outcomes on providing, you know, the right answer, having the right experience, and really looking at those quantitative measures. A lot of times it’s important to go back to this research and really say, “That’s great, I need that, obviously.” But really, a lot of what patients are concerned about is the experience that they’re gonna have, and that really needs to be able to hit both sides of them.

So earlier this year at Geonetric, we launched some ratings and reviews for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare. And this has just done a really great job for them. So they added physician ratings and reviews based off their Press Ganey data and the surveys that they were already putting in place, really wove this into their overall provider directory experience.

And just had record-breaking numbers of appointment requests coming through this. And a couple of good lessons out of this, one is they went into this process with a lot of the groundwork insights as far as having online appointment request, tracking that data month over month, and knowing what that baseline was and what kind of value the provider directory was already contributing to their organization. So that one day, they kinda went out on a limb, tried something new and a little bit risky. They were immediately able to see how those numbers shifted right off the bat within the first few weeks, seeing numbers that were just breaking records over previous months. This is something that you wanna hear a lot more about, Jamie and Gwendolyn will be speaking on this project at Healthcare Internet Conference this November.

So there’s a session that’s gonna be on that and really going into detail around what was involved from Wheaton Franciscan’s point of view and what was making this a success for them. Another Geonetric client, Bryan Health, launched a provider ratings and reviews as well. I did this just recently, and they’re actually using NRC as their patient satisfaction survey provider. So that has been integrated into their provider profiles, and you can see they’ve created a design that really showcases that star rating and really highlights the schedule appointment request that appointment online, and a lot of the multimedia and other information about that provider. So just another little take on that. But something that we’re seeing people progressing through, I know we got another client launching and I’m gonna be here with provider ratings and reviews as well.

So the question you might be asking yourself, is this a fit for your organization? And what I’m trying to call out, as we go through each of these section, is what are some of the organizational strategies? A lot of healthcare organizations use something like a pillars type of strategy, having some different areas that they’re really focused on. So try to call out maybe where those might fit in some of those common colors that we see out there. So if you’re really focused on things like quality, service, transparency, and leadership in the industry, those might be indicators that you can align some of these ratings and reviews work with those organizational strategies. I think the key piece is really what is your overall physician strategy?

What does this look like? How are you engaging with physicians? Are you employing a lot of physicians, or are you relying on a lot of other organizations to refer into your network? Take a look at the review landscape that you have today. If you’ve got reviews out there on Google, on Yelp, and different spaces, Healthgrades Vitals, what do those reviews look like? What are you competing against? You know, is it really important for you to get your own message out there? A lot of times what we see are the reviews, a few reviews that are out there on something like Healthgrades, maybe more negative than what you’re seeing in your patient satisfaction surveys. So this is an opportunity for you to leverage that in terms of information, and to really tell your own story and a more complete story.

You know, if you’ve got hundreds of reviews of a physician, that really can outweigh those four or five disgruntled people on Yelp. You know, if you need to get out there and tell your own story, that’s gonna kinda shift how important this is for your organization. And then, one of the key things that we find is having that top-level buy-in. This is really about having your organizational leaders, especially your physician leaders, engaged. And the organizations that we see that have been really successful and are really pushing forward with physician ratings and reviews, it’s really coming, a lot of ways, from the top down. Somebody in the upper levels that really is pushing this ahead is the champion for this and is giving everybody else on board. And so, if that’s happening in your organization, you know, run with that and really take advantage with that.

If you don’t see that happening, that may be a red flag that you really need to go find some alliances and form some alliances if you feel it could be a real beneficial strategy for your organization. So if you’re trying to make this happen, you’re trying to push forward and build some momentum for this project, one of the things that you’re gonna wanna do is get familiar with the surveys that you have in place today. You may have multiple survey providers, you know, you may have multiple surveys across different parts of the organization. As I’ve talked with clients and other folks out there in the industry, different people have varying levels of familiarity, but let their organization is doing today.

So find that person that is really managing this process, or that group, and start to understand what’s out there today. One of the things that you’ll want to do early on if you’re planning to use those surveys to publish them in some way online, whether that’s the open-ended comments or just the numbers around them. It’s just kinda do a legal review, a legal check, and make sure that you’ve got the groundwork that you need in place to be able to use that information the way that you want to. So even if you think this is a year off, two years off, the further ahead of it you can get with the legal fees, the more the data you can get out of it at launch that you can actually put out on this site.

Like I mentioned, you’re really gonna want to identify those champions from your physicians and your leadership, and they can help you make the case across the organization and really help to drive this forward. And as I mentioned in Wheaton’s example, you know, establishing those baselines, really knowing where your physician profiles sit today and understanding what that financial impact is. What’s the value of getting an appointment request form and as that carries through your system. If you can boost that number, if you can boost the visibility and the traffic and the appointments that are being generated, what does that mean in terms of the bottom line for your organization?

And then, early on, you can even start to draft up what maybe some guidelines and review processes, so if there are disputes about a particular review or, you know, interest in what is gonna be published, how it’s gonna be published, which things are going to be acceptable and not acceptable. You can start in on those guidelines early and start to help everybody understand what that process is going to look like.

The next area that we wanted to talk about was appointment scheduling, both appointment scheduling and virtual visits. And this feels like something that we’ve been talking about for a really long time. You know, I think probably over the whole last 10 years that I’ve been working with Geonetric, throughout that whole experience, we’ve constantly been hearing from the patient’s side, “I just wanna be able to book this online.” And, you know, from a marketing perspective, it’s really great to be able to see…close that loop on the appointment process and really see the whole transaction happen. But obviously, scheduling is a very complex area of the organization, and it’s been a little bit challenging for everybody to get in and make that happen.

So just from some survey results, we know that everybody, you know, patients really want to be able to do this. This is a number from back in 2011, so this is just a few years ago, 81% of patients, according to an internet health survey, said that they would schedule online, and 48% of those suggested they would consider switching providers if one were offering online scheduling. This is just a few years ago. Within the last couple of years, Accenture has put out some projections, and they’re looking at where online scheduling is going to be for health systems at the end of 2019, so just a few years from now. And they’re projecting that 66% of health systems will offer self-scheduling. And out of that, they’re saying that 100% of the top 100 health systems will be doing that, they’re on 55% of others will be doing that.

So, you know, basically half of the systems, you look at your competitors and kinda think about who’s gonna be out there doing this. They’re also projecting that about 38% of appointments will not be self-scheduled. So this is quite a bit higher than what we’ve seen in the past, and so they’re projecting a lot more engagement, a lot more availability of these features over the next few years. One of the areas that we’ve seen this pop up first is looking at the current patients. And so, this is an example from Bronson Healthcare where they’ve really beefed up their provider profiles. They’ve done a great job of designing these to call out many of the calls to action, making them very clear. You’ve got two options here, calling the provider to make a new patient appointment. They clearly says that this provider is accepting new patients.

And then there’s a button here as well for your current patients, allowing them to go online and schedule through my chart. And so, many of you may have, I think, into my chart patient portal. Other patient portals are similar in that they support scheduling and appointment processes for existing patients already. And so, one of the first steps may be to look at what you have available within those patient portals and really start to connect the dots to your website for those current patients that have scheduling available. And also, it does a great job of letting prospective patients to know that once they are patients, they’re gonna have some new features available to them, they’re gonna be able to do these things online.

It’s kinda going back to those numbers, so folks that may be willing to switch just to be able to do some online scheduling. What we see folks doing from there is really looking at new patient scheduling. So this is an example from Stamford Health, they’re using Zocdoc for booking appointments online, that kind of real-time booking. And doing this not just for existing patients, but pulling in new patients as well into this process. So there’s a number of different solutions out there for this, Zocdoc being one of those, Health Posts being another one that we’ve worked with. And obviously, there’s a lot of talk right now about Epic and the open scheduling processes that they are adding to their offering. And a lot of folks talking about moving forward, which we’re kinda starting to see, maybe some of those first ones go live as they work out some of the internal things around that.

But this can be a really great option, especially if you’re in a competitive market. If a lot of the other organizations in your market are out there, you know, on sites like Zocdoc, offering appointments, it’s a good way to get in there and get that visibility, both from their sites and from your own site, to being able to go ahead and just take action when you’re out there on the site. Another added benefit that we’ve seen from things like Zocdoc, they’ve gotten some early access to features through Google to actually allow you to put some extra metadata in there in the listings. So when the list position shows up in the search results, you can actually continue booking them, make an appointment right through the Google search results page.

So this is kind of up and coming features from Google, something that Zocdoc has been able to take advantage of, not generally available at this point, but something that we’re definitely watching closely as how that is going to play out for other folks out there. Wanted to focus on looking at the urgent care and emergency space. So taking a look at, you know, waiting lists or online kind of pre-registration, getting yourself scheduled in for things like emergency walk-in care, solutions like that. So it’s another area to kind of look at and see where your priorities lie as an organization. The space being a little bit more competitive to get your voice out there, what are your competitors doing out there?

What does the retail or walk-in space look like in your area? Quite a bit different in different areas of the country. So really understanding, you know, your market and where you’re at, and looking at some of the solutions in that space as well. Seeing more and more organizations opening up to virtual visits as well. So over 30 states nowadays have passed laws that bring telemedicine into play and get those reimbursement rates going. And along with that, then we see, you know, virtual visits becoming an option for different situations, that can be a really great option. And again, it’s a matter of looking at what’s going on in your overall strategy, and then your market, and making sure that you’re staying up with some of those trends.

So trying to decide if this is an area that is fit for you, really boosting up online scheduling and different features that way. Again, look at each organizational strategy. If you’re looking at service or kind of the service to your patients, looking at your overall financial health and profitability. Is there something that can streamline some of your operations? Or if it’s a growth strategy, you need to be competitive, you need to be able to pull in more appointments. Those can all be things that can help support this overall strategy and bring some focus there. As I mentioned, you’re gonna want to look at your physician workload, see if the provider is already overbooked. Keep in mind, again, this is something that can help retain some of these patients, but there’s, you know, you’re gonna run into trouble if you’re trying to push a more, you know, into a already overfull system.

Looking at efficiency gains. So if there’s a lot of struggle right now, either offering, you know, phone support during the different times of day that people actually are trying to get through, or just overall trying to make that process more streamlined. That can be a great place to look at boosting online scheduling. Thinking as well about your overall physician strategy and how you’re working with employed physician versus referring physicians, and what that looks like for your organization. These things can all help to really determine whether this is a fit for you and is something that you want to spend your time focusing on.

If it is, really, to build some momentum here, one of the first places I would advise looking is really understanding what is the technology and the functionality that you have available today through the various patient portals and different systems that you have in place. Really understanding what’s out there, what does that look like, and even mapping that, you know, end-to-end. From a patient’s perspective, what are the different paths that they may go down? What does that look like? What is the experience like? And how can you integrate that in a better way into your overall digital presence? Simply taking some of the things that may be available today, starting to connect them in may help to really provide a case for going further with this down the road.

So if you’ve got, you know, patient scheduling available for some existing patients today, making sure that that is connected into those provider listings and other touch points on your website so that it’s understood as the clear benefit, and that the pathway to doing that is really clear for the patients. And then starting to build up, tracking those metrics, understanding where the baseline is at, so that you can really build a case for moving forward in a broader sense with that. I’m gonna talk a little bit about CRM and personalization as well. I’ve kind of lumped these two together, they really play off of each other in interesting ways.

CRM is a huge topic right now, and if you’re at the SHSMD Conference in Chicago, something that we heard a lot about there. And it’s really around understanding your audience, really knowing more about who the patients are that are engaging with your organization. What kind of value they’re bringing, and all of the different behavioral and predictive pieces that you can bring into play there. One of the things that’s been particularly interesting, and as I’ve said, we’re still crunching some of the data from this year’s survey. But really, it looks like it’s trending along some of the same lines. This data is from our 2014 survey, showing that about 21% of healthcare organizations were reporting that they had CRM integrated with the website.

More recent survey from Greystone last year showed only a slight increase, while 50% of folks reported having a CRM, only about 25% said that they had it integrated with the website. And as I’ve said, we’re seeing kind of the similar numbers this year. So it’s kind of a disconnect going on, I think, between the healthcare CRM side of things and the web, and a little bit into the marketing space and how those pieces tie together. And so, this is what I kind of call the kind of closing the loop. And so, what you see a lot of times is the CRM system has a lot of data in it. It’s a lot of accounting data, and charge data, a lot of, you know, market information as well, and really crunching a lot of sort of big data in metrics and analytics about what’s going on inside of the organization.

And that can be used to funnel out some really great stuff. Direct mail, email, social media, digital advertising, all kinds of things. A lot of that is going to point back to your website, and that’s where things start to get a little bit tricky. So all of the time that it’s not necessarily connecting up with what’s going on the website, and meanwhile, you have other things pointing at the website as well. Things like organic traffic, direct visits to a site. Some of those campaigns, you know, may be doing some things on social, maybe doing some advertising or even email, but is not funneling through that CRM system. They may not be getting connecting altogether.

And then, as that gets pushed back to the CRM system, a lot of times that is predominantly through form capture. So conversion points like those appointment requests, event registrations, another areas on the site. And less often it…actually tracking some online behavioral data, you know, people who actually, you know, click through and visit particular pages or a series of pages. And so, in healthcare, there’s just a little bit of a difference in how that all comes together, and that’s where we see a lot of value in taking a look at all of these processes. Making sure that you’re engaged with the folks that are working with the CRM system and really understanding how to tighten up this loop and connect things to get a little bit better.

Because what it’s going to lead to is better ability to zero in on particular individuals and really focus those efforts in your marketing. So out of all the possible people that you could be talking to about any given offering, you know, who should you be talking to? What are your best bets? Where can you really focus your time and energy in communicating as effectively as possible? That plays out in a number of different ways when it comes to the website. Not all of these are necessarily reliant on the CRM, or a lot of fancy technology hidden behind the scenes to make them happen. But a lot of the trend right now is pushing towards making that experience on the site to feel more tailored and more personalized to the individual that’s visiting.

One of the areas that we’re really familiar with from retail and is really starting to make its way across into healthcare, especially as systems have acquired and opened so many different systems in such broad geographic areas, tailoring that experience a little bit more to the geographic area that a particular user is looking at. So we’re familiar from, you know, I’ve got some examples here from sites like Staples, or from Lowe’s or Home Depot, where, you know, you wanna find whether an item is available at that store down the block from you. They really tailor a lot of the offers and a lot of the information to that particular local store that is in your neighborhood. Same thing, absolutely true, in healthcare as well, especially as we’re competing in more and more of the retail type of environment.

The other piece of personalization is really around delivering contextually relevant content. And what I mean by that is making sure that the content that is featured within the page is more relevant to the user based on what we know about them. And that can be a number of different levels of what we know. It can be as simple as campaign targeting. So if they come in from a particular campaign, we’re gonna show them different content that relates more tightly to that campaign that they came in from. It could be things like simple visitor demographics. Again, knowing the area that they’re coming from, or knowing the, you know, the time of day, the type of machine they’re on, all kinds of information that gets shared in that process.

And then building up as we learn things about that user that may influence the type of content that we’re going to recommend. As we get a little bit more sophisticated, we like to look at the behaviors that they’re taking on the site. So if they are on the site and they’re clicking around three or four pages, we may want to prompt some relevant content, whether that’s health content, whether that’s a live chat, something like that, that may engage them or may relate to the type of information that they’re clicking through and the types of actions that they’re taking on the site. And then where things get a little bit more sophisticated is actually taking all of that, lumping that together, and providing some predictive algorithms on top of that.

So that’s where things get a little bit more complicated, and you can see more value coming out of knowing what’s going on and pulling things together in a more dynamic way. To think about this for your organization, some of the things that you may be wanting to consider as you think about both CRM and personalization, again, thinking about this organizational strategy. So if you’re looking at kind of financial health and efficiency, really understanding, again, where you’re investing, who you’re being successful with today, how you’re gonna grow that in the future. That can really help both that financial security strategy as well as growth. And then, the idea that this supports service as well.

So if you’re trying to improve service to your patients, create a better customer experience, having that more tailored experience throughout your communications, both from the CRM perspective and kind of online presentation really helps to support that overall strategy. One of the biggest pieces we see here is getting alignment to happen among some of the key players. So what we hear a lot of times is there’s, you know, one particular individual in the organization that is the CRM person, and they may or may not be in the marketing team. They may or may not be close to web or digital efforts. So really figuring out who those key players are, making sure that you’re thinking about that loop, closing that loop in a really concrete way and really collaborative way amongst all of those different efforts.

And so, thinking about launching this out, where can you start with this? You know, as I’ve said, really figuring out where you’re at today, you know, understanding what CRM systems you may have in place, what the future holds for those, and what capabilities that you have access to today. And who’s involved with that, how you can connect a lot of those processes throughout the loop, making sure they do, closing that loop around the existing programs. So if you’re launching a campaign, making sure that that is only connected throughout the CRM system that you may have in place today.

One of the areas around personalization that you can really start is to experiment with some A/B testing. This is just a really simple way to help to test out different ways of tailoring content based on different criteria. There’s a lot of different A/B testing tools out there today. And actually, just this morning, Google has announced that they’re kind of relaunching. They had an A/B testing tool out there number of years ago, they kind of pulled that back and have turned it more towards a paid tool that they’ve just launched, a beta invite list for what they’re calling Google Optimize. Or you can go out and sign up to the participant non-beta for A/B testing tool where you can really start to play around and see how tailoring that messaging based on some different criteria can help your site to be more effective, to feel more personal and connect users.

It’s really kind of way to dip your toe in the water of that personalization. Content is that there’s the fourth item here. So if you’re gonna be going down the path of really tailoring that information to each individual user, that’s gonna take a lot of content. And they’re really thinking about that, how you’re gonna support all of the content that may be needed, and making sure that you’ve got content well-aligned with things that you’re trying to do, the areas that you’re trying to push on, and how you’re going to keep that up-to-date. It’s something to be considering, starting to get the ball rolling in that area that can help to move the whole project forward.

So while we’re really pushing out there and thinking about all of these new directions, different ways to engage users and make things, you know, overall, the theme has been a lot of making them more consumer-driven, you know, more similar to a lot of retail sites and things out there that people are familiar with, interacting with. You wanna think about that foundation as well. And so, we know that, you know, over the past few years responsive has been a huge trend, and a lot of people have gone through those redesigns, and their site has gone responsive. It’s maybe been a few years since you’ve done that. And where things have really gone there. Obviously, nobody sits still in the web space.

The devices keep changing, you know, you think about the iPhone 7 that was just launched and that screen size compared to the device that we all had a few years ago. I ran across my Blackberry a couple of weeks ago and just kind of thinking about how short a time it’s been since I was using that every day. And now I’ve got this giant shiny screen of an iPhone that I look at. So thinking about those changes in devices, just the tweaks that need to be made, the advances in technology ongoing, revisions to browsers, they’re just constant. And making sure that we’ve got, really, a mobile-first foundation there. So making sure that things are going to load well on mobile, that they’re supporting current browsers, current resolutions at the right breakpoints, and keeping that mobile customer experience top-of-mind.

This can really make a big difference in a number of different ways. So the first is realizing that consumers are spending a lot of time on their devices. So this is looking at the digital media time spent across the past couple of years, starting in 2013. And in the 2014, you can really see that trend where a desktop down there in the bottom in red has stayed fairly steady across the past few years, where smartphone and tablet traffic has grown enormously. The amount of time that people are spending on those devices has just skyrocketed. I think there’s some indication this is starting to level off, that people only have so much time to be on devices, even when they’re on multiple devices at the same time.

But you can see, really, the importance of targeting those mobile devices and having an effective user experience when you’re there. We know as well that Google is paying attention to this. The turn estimates are around maybe 58% of searches on Google are performed on a mobile device, that’s kind of from a search engine study. Google has stated last year that it has definitely exceeded 50%. They’re a little bit tight with releasing some of those numbers, but we know that it’s a huge number of users that are searching out on mobile devices. And Google is really incorporating the usability of the site, the experience of the users can have when they get to that site into the search rankings.

So really optimizing for mobile and making sure that it is a fast-loading site and that everything is working for these mobile browsers, it’s going to help and factor into some of those algorithms that Google has done a real leg out. Some of these they ruled out just this past May, and we’ve seen some shifts already in the rankings from some of those sites that just were not as mobile-friendly as they should be. What I also want to think about is really about foundation, building for SEO. So we think a lot with SEO about content and metadata that we’ve place on the page, but there are a lot of things fundamentally under the covers that need to be there, need to be escorted in order to make sure that we’re really optimizing for SEO.

Some things that we’ve been talking about a lot are things like schema. So when we think about semantic SEO and we think about, what we’re thinking about is how do we tell Google about the people, places, and things that this content is about, the real world, people, places, and things. And so, really looking at incorporating schema markup, really structured data markup into the pages, and helping Google to understand that this page is really representing a real physician in the real world. And they have a specialty and they have a location, a physical location that they practice at, and they’re connected in this way to these different sort of sites. Google is just going really rapidly on trying to understand all of this, pulling this into its knowledge graph.

And the more that your site is able to help with that, the more tightly integrated all of that becomes at the overall visibility of your own information that you’re pushing out there just increases. Open graph is another area. So if you, you know, redesigned a few years ago this may not have been incorporated into the thinking at that point in time, something that’s really grown along with social media. So on the left here, you can see an example of a page. You know, we get the question every once in a while. You know, somebody goes to share a page on Facebook or on Twitter and some random image shows up or things just don’t patch up with what’s actually on the page. One of the ways to control that and really influence what shows up when things get shared on social is using open graph metadata.

So on the left-hand side, you see an example of just kind of a straight out page. It’s pulling the page title, pulling the description, and the URL of the page into that Facebook post. When you use open graph tags and place those on the page, you can actually have some control over things like that description, the images, the URL, and how those are shared on social media. So you can see we’ve chosen a featured image from that post. We’ve modified the title to be a little bit more descriptive. It can be a little bit longer than you might usually use in an HTML page title. And then we can really tweak some of those descriptions and the way the URL is presented in order to just better fit that social media platform.

So something to consider if you look at your sites, just checking to see if it has the capability to support some of this and if that information is actually populated for your content. A lot of times the feature may be there, but you need to go back and actually do the work of writing that content and placing it out there so that it can get picked up. The web accessibility has really become a hot topic, especially over the summer as, you know, the ACA 1557 was put out in the middle of May. And really kind of started to loop into some of the ACA language the idea of web accessibility. So this is a…I predicate this by saying this is not legal advice at all.

This is something probably you should be talking with your lawyers about. But really, bringing more focus onto web accessibility for healthcare websites if your site falls within…your organization falls within the kind of the criteria of this rule. Something to be considering how accessible your website is if you’re taking a look at auditing accessibility on your site and making some efforts to improve what’s going on there. Another area that has been undergoing a lot of content change, new different standards and capabilities that are out there to address assisted technologies and different ways of doing that have emerged over the last few years. So even if the site was accessible, you know, three or four years ago, something that you want to take a look at, kind of an ongoing thing that needs some attention.

So just thinking about that website foundation, where that fits in, if this is something that you wanna focus time and energy on. Again, going back to this organizational strategy, thinking about, you know, your financial side of things, some of the efficiencies and the value that you can drive there. A lot of organizations have continuous improvements as part of their overall strategy. That’s a great place to really think about how are we continuing to build on the foundation we have out there? Are we keeping our technology stack up to date? And making sure that we have the best possible kind of foundations for things that maybe coming down the road.

And then, if you have a growth focus, service focus of providing that great patient service, those are all areas that improving and making sure that things are really up to current standards and, you know, mobile-friendly, the top visibility for search can tie in. If you had changes to your brand, your organizational structure, your overall strategy as far as, you know, how prevalent some of your service lines are, things like that. That then also indicates the kind of a red flag that maybe we wanna go back and take a look at the way things are structured on the web, the way things are presented, and how all of it ties together just to make sure that we’re staying in line where the organization has gone.

Definitely keep an eye on your overall analytics. Know what they’re telling you about engagement with your sites. Are people, you know, bouncing to it quickly? Are mobile users bouncing more than maybe they should be? Are they landing on certain pages? All of these sort of things that can indicate that there might be a problem on the site, things that could be improved in order to improve that overall user experience. And I think knowing what’s coming down the road. So if you know there’s a big initiative coming out maybe not till next year, maybe a new building that’s going up, things like that. Things that are gonna be expected to support through digital marketing, through the website. Being prepared for that and knowing that you’ve got that foundation in place to build upon as those projects come up.

To build some momentum for projects in this area, you can take a look at a lot of tools that Google provides. If you’re not familiar with Search Console, I highly, highly encourage you to get your site set up in Search Console, really take advantage of that free tool for understanding how your site’s appearing in search results, what kind of structured data Google is finding on your site, and where there might be problems going on from a search standpoint. You can get your access to what some of those queries that people are using to find your site? Just a lot of good stuff inside of Search Console.

To speak specifically about that structured content, as you’re looking in Search Console, you really, at this point in time, wanna see some structured content showing up on your site. That’s something that you can continue to tweak and modify, but you really wanna get some structured content going out there. Just at a minimum, describing your site, and ideally marking up some of those things, your locations, your providers, some of those different areas of the site that really represent real-world entities and that you really want to get found in search, in knowledge graph, and in some of those areas of search. The Search Console is also gonna tell you if your site shows up as mobile-friendly.

If it’s not showing up as mobile-friendly inside of Google or inside Google’s mobile-friendly test tool, you can go and search for that and put your URLs in and see if Google thinks that your site is mobile-friendly. That’s probably something that you wanna take immediate action on and really understand what needs to happen for Google to see your site as being mobile-friendly. That’s become just a stronger and stronger ranking factor. If you’re concerned about SEO at all, that’s something that you definitely should be on top of. And then, as you’re working with that structured data, there’s a structured data testing tool, that’s all that I wanted to call now.

You wanna look at your mobile visit data as well. So thinking about your mobile visitors and kind of slicing that out, taking a look at those specifically, you know, breaking out some of those different devices, and understanding the analytics. You’re kind of using it as the usability analytics tool. To understand what things are going on with your users when they’re on a mobile device. What times of day are they engaging with the site? You know, like I said, what are some of the bounce rates? Really understanding if that’s working for you, or if there maybe some problem areas that need to be looked at again. And again, to get that momentum, tracking those results.

If you’re going in, you’re adding maybe some structured content around your brand and the site you’re trying to, you know, work as a publisher and get your visibility up there that way. Knowing what that baseline was, and after you do a little bit of tweaking in there, what those search results…and it’s looking like it can help to build the case for bigger and bigger changes down the road.

So to kind of wrap things up here, it’s always good to remember that the web is always under construction. So it may seem a little bit overwhelming, but this is the fun world that we live in, that there’s always some kind of challenge in front of us and we got to play around with all these fun new tools. And to really figure out how to make them work for our organizations and be successful with them. So, you know, whether you’re looking at provider ratings and reviews, whether you’re looking at appointment scheduling, those kinds of things, into the personalization. And just making sure that you’ve got the SEO and the web foundations in place, knowing that things are gonna change.

If you go and watch that schema markup, schema is a constantly evolving thing right now. It may change in a few weeks, and being ready for that is pretty important. I wanna pull together some of the themes as well. So, you know, really, with all that change going on, some of the organizational challenges that we run into inside of healthcare organizations, you can really feel like you get stuck a lot. And so, thinking about how to get some momentum going, I think connecting as much data together as possible, different data sources. Whether that’s web analytics and your CRM knowing all of the search tools and getting all of that so that it’s all integrated and talking to each other so you really know as complete a picture as you can about what’s going on with your website, with your digital marketing efforts, with your users, and understanding how all of these things align.

Setting some baselines, knowing that you have some things in place so that, as things change, you’ve got a clear picture of what’s going on, and you’re able to really tell the story about those changes, those experiments that you’re doing, and testing things now, and seeing the impacts that they’re having. So it’s, you know, a lot easier to run a small test, show some success and build from there. And then, I think a lot of what we’ve talked about today is really, you know, looking at features that you may already have in place.

Somewhere in the building, somebody has this tool that’s out there. It may not be being effectively used today, it may not be integrated in the overall user experience. Patients may not know if they’re actually able to schedule those appointments themselves in different ways. So creating that integrated user experience, making sure that you’re going through and really mapping things together. And understanding from that patient’s perspective, from that user’s perspective, what does this entire process look like? How can we streamline that? How can we make it a little bit more friendly and connect the dots for people?

So with that, I’d like to turn it over for some questions. And I’m just gonna take a look here of kind of what maybe came in from the Q&A. If you do have a question, you can type that in the questions box on the screen, the ask a questions box, and that will post through. Sounds like maybe we’ve got a little issue with audio quality today. We’re doing things a little bit out of the norm with kind of a new platform, but if you heard on the news this morning that Cedar Rapids has flooded, we’re kind of all distributed around and relying on the cloud and not missing a beat here when the team spread out to participate in the webinar today. A question about the structured data testing tool, that’s literally what it’s called.

So if you search for the Google it’s called Google Structured Data Testing Tool, and it will just allow you to put a URL into the box, and then it will pull out the source code of that page, kind of on the left-hand side, on the right-hand side, you’ll see any structured data items that it finds on the page. So maybe things like publisher markup and maybe kind of page level metadata, and maybe things about a physician or a location that should be structured. If you go to, the website is, you can explore a lot of the structures that you may want to be using on your site and kind of understand, you know, how those different entities all play together and how they connect together.

It can get a little bit technical on there, but it’s pretty interesting to try to understand how you’re actually mapping those things together. Another great question, tons of opportunities go with limited staffing, how would you prioritize? I think, you know, going back to those key strategies for your organization, understanding which of these really best aligns with, you know, whether it’s pillars or whatever you call those key strategies. Which are the things that are really going to best support in kind of a really effective way? Those strategies where your organizations had an understanding things like your physician strategy and the ways that you can best support that.

I think that that helps you to make some of these tradeoffs, understanding which efforts can really best align with the overall strategy. Also understanding, like I mentioned, knowing where some of those investments have already been paid. What tools are already out there? Where are some of those low-hanging fruits? If we just connected the dots for a user, we can help to really take advantage of things that have already been put in place a lot of effort that has already been used. But at the end of the day, it always comes back to saying no to something. And so, really being able to, you know, maybe saying no, or say, you know, “Not now.” That’s something that way we wanna look at down the road, maybe putting some of those foundations in place.

Like I mentioned around physician rating, if they can show that kind of the groundwork is there, but it may not be something you’re going to invest a lot of time in at this point. I think as you go through that process, if you do some of that experimentation and you’re really testing out, tracking the numbers, you can start to see which of those experiments is really taking off? Which of those is getting traction both inside and outside the organization? Which of those smaller experiments is producing the kind of result that are really gonna drive value for your organization and, you know, keep you ahead down the road?

So if you had a question and it didn’t get answered today, we’ll definitely follow-up with you after the webinar. I wanted to mention as well that this webinar has been recorded and will be posted out to later this week. And I wanted to remind you as well, we have a webinar coming up in October. So October 26th at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. We’re gonna be talking about “Growing Digital: Reaching Health Consumers Online”. So things like which targeting techniques we’re seeing would be really effective. We’re going to go a little bit deeper on SEO and where that fits in. You know, the spoiler alert there, it fits in everywhere.

Thinking about content creation and a lot of those great questions around how do we know where to focus our efforts. We’ll be here time and time again. People don’t feel they have enough time or enough budget to do everything. What’s gonna get us the most bang for our buck, most return of our investment of time? So that’s really what we’ll be digging into next month as well. So thank you for attending, and hope to see you next month as well.

Staying Competitive: Web Features That Engage Users & Deliver Results