As hospital marketers, we often think that the most important content on our website is about US… how great our services are, all the awards we’ve won, why we’re the best at everything. (I know that’s a bit of hyperbole, but anyone who’s ever worked with a world-renown physician knows that’s sometimes all you get: “I’m the best at this.”)
While differentiating content about your services and physicians is vital, it’s not the most frequently visited content on your website. Let’s take a look at what is.
While you may not be surprised to learn that the most frequently visited pages are those with location information – including phone numbers, addresses and parking information – now you need to consider HOW your users are finding that information on your website. Recent statistics show that mobile usage has increased by at least 70 percent over the past three years. So what does that mean for you?
Your website needs to be mobile friendly, whether you have a mobile-first strategy in place (or in planning) or are using responsive design. No matter your approach, if you want to create a good user experience, you need to make sure that maps and directions are fewer than three clicks away on a mobile device, enabling users to quickly navigate to the hospital campus while en route.
Writing for mobile is different than writing for the web. While there are numerous resources available online to help you get started (this is a good one), it also helps to have a partner with expertise in writing for mobile. And as you might expect, WriterGirl excels at this.
Find a Doctor
Whether a patient is seeking a new doctor, or simply trying to locate their current doctor, your Find a Doctor information is key to driving revenue. As with location information, your Find a Doctor information needs to be easily accessible from a mobile device. Since this information should be housed on a database, proper programming is key to a good user experience. In addition, physician contact information – especially telephone numbers – needs to be handled in a mobile-friendly manner so users can simply click the number and call.
Consistent physician bios are a part of any good Find a Doctor information. While creating those consistent bios can be a daunting task, once you get it done the first time, it becomes a matter of updating it with new physicians and new information.
Forms/ What to Bring
Most organizations encourage their patients to save time by completing forms prior to an appointment or hospital procedure. Since most patients will visit this section of your site when directed to do so, it’s important that it be user-friendly and easy to navigate. (This is one place where – as of this writing – a mobile strategy takes a back seat.)
While the goal of this page is to get patients to complete forms in advance, it also offers an opportunity to promote other services in which your patients may have interest. This page should include general information on what to bring for a hospital stay and what to expect upon arrival, as well as general information about outpatient procedures. Since patients will arrive at this page in order to complete a variety of forms for numerous office and hospital visits, the information should be general, but can point patients towards more specific information via helpful links.
Your website consists of dozens, if not hundreds, of pages of content, all of which is relevant to some part of your audience. So while these three areas are vital to most of your users, they’re only a small part of a much larger content strategy.
Posted by Christy Schlake, President & CEO
Your digital presence, or the way that your organization is represented online, is already bigger than you think. But it might not be the presence you were hoping for. Mobile devices give patients and caregivers unlimited access to online resources such as rating sites that often take the place of word-of-mouth referrals. Ratings can be overwhelmingly good, or can teeter on the side of terrible.
Take Healthgrades, for example. Healthgrades is an online rating site that allows consumers, physicians, and hospitals to find out information about each other. Patients can log on and take a survey to rate physicians and hospitals on service aspects like ease of scheduling appointments, total wait times and friendliness of staff. Physicians and hospitals can update information on the Healthgrades site to have more control over their profiles. But do they?
The truth is, many organizations are just awakening to the impact of these rating sites. If your rating site profile has incorrect information or someone gives you a bad rating, your organization could be negatively impacted. Broadening your marketing focus to include monitoring rating site reputation will help ensure positive feedback.
What to do? Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Update your organization’s information on Google Places
- Make sure any local listings for your organization showcase the services you provide and any other information you want to share
- Research review sites and ensure all of your information is updated and correct
- Respond to negative patient reviews
- Create your own online community
- Ask your patients to share their exceptional experiences with you online
According to the Pew Internet survey The Social Life of Health Information, “as broadband and mobile access spreads, more people have the ability – and increasingly, the habit – of sharing what they are doing and thinking. In healthcare, this translates to people tracking their workout routines, posting reviews of their medical treatments and raising awareness about certain health conditions.”
Information is power. Own yours.
Written by WriterGirl & Associates
Posted by Reba Thompson, Director of Business Development
Let’s face it: hospital websites blur together. They all offer the same stuff.
What makes a hospital stand-out isn’t the pretty design or easy navigation. What keeps me going back to a hospital website is meaningful content. Here are three that offer the patient something different:
Going to a hospital for the first time can be downright scary. That’s why Cleveland Clinic decided to offer virtual tours of all its major buildings. You can zoom-in and zoom-out of the pictures and take a 360 view of what each place offers. By the time a patient gets to Cleveland Clinic, they’ll know what to expect.
Advocate Health Care
Advocate Health Care became its own news source. Partnering with Ragan Communications, the team created healthenews, a website that defines “brand journalism.” The website is centered on wellness news and tips for patients. It doesn’t churn out press releases for journalists. Instead, they give journalists what they want: stories that they can actually use. In fact, this one has been picked up by CNN.
Boston Children’s Hospital
Thriving is a blog that is all about the families that come to the hospital. The stories here can make you laugh or cry, depending on the entry. What makes this a robust blog is that it isn’t just written by healthcare communicators. There’s a variety of voices: doctors, patients and parents who all contribute. When you read it, you don’t feel like you’re being “marketed” to. You just feel like you’re reading great stories.
Posted by Jessica Levco, WG Associate
Every year in September, WriterGirl attends The Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development annual conference. The Society, known affectionately as SHSMD (pronounced, “shush-med”), is a resource and networking organization for healthcare professionals. Its affiliation with the American Hospital Association credentials the Society as one of the leading resources for those brave many who make healthcare their business.
Although WriterGirl attends the conference as an exhibitor, we do have the opportunity to sit in on many of the presentations. One General Session stands out in all of our minds:
Blue Zones: Communities that Live Longer, Healthier and Happier
As healthcare reform pushes the industry to move away from a reactive “sick care” model toward a proactive “preventive care” model, new ways of thinking about “health” care are emerging. Enter Dan Buettner, a man whose Twitter account (@BlueZones) proclaims him a “New York Times bestselling author, bicycling world record holder and National Geographic Fellow.”
As we conference attendees munched on quiche and an assortment of pastries, Dan opened the floor to his presentation with a health questionnaire of sorts. Via show of hands, we responded to requests such as “raise your hand if you eat at least three vegetables a day” and “raise your hand if you attend church or some other faith-based community at least four times a month.” One question in particular got a little personal, but we all laughed about it and hesitantly raised our hands … or didn’t. Regardless, we were all intrigued. What did vegetables and yoga have to do with blue zones? And what are blue zones anyway?
The Blue Zones® and the Power9®
Dan and his team of researchers have identified five areas of the world where people not only live longer, but also enjoy health and vitality throughout the continuum of their lives. Dan has coined the areas in which these groups of people live as “The Blue Zones.” Even more compelling, individuals living in the Blue Zones share nine common behaviors. Coined the Power9®, these behaviors include such things as “Move Naturally” and “Wine @ 5.” Can I get a whoop whoop?!
After studying these groups of people (believe it or not, one group actually lives in the United States), Dan and his team took their research a step further. Through an inspiring initiative, they are engaging and encouraging U.S. cities to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice in their community. The pilot program started in Albert Lea, Minnesota in 2009 with much success.
Of course, there’s so much more to it than this brief synopsis, but you’re welcome to visit Blue Zones® and learn more. I did as soon as I got home from the conference.
The Windy City of Chicago was an apt setting for the conference, given its concurrence with the government shutdown. Despite the political turmoil brewing in the background, the SHSMD community shined with this year’s theme: Connections.
Dan Buettner inspires healthy connections by championing his Blue Zones initiatives. As our healthcare clients face the challenging prospect of rebranding their systems, it will be more and more important for us at WriterGirl to be aware of iconoclasts such as Dan Buettner, who is changing the way we all think about “health” care.
Posted by Kris Martin, Vice President of Operations
The best way to think about marketing your doctors to your community is to think about what you would want as a patient. And what patients want is simple – they want help. When you’re marketing your doctors, ask yourself if the content you’re providing is helping your patients.
Here are some ways your marketing efforts can help your community, your doctors and you:
- Back-to-school vaccines and flu shots are here. Have you thought about a YouTube video featuring your doctor talking about why parents need to immunize their children?
- Do your doctors see patients with the same or similar conditions (diabetes, obesity, depression)? Many doctors engage in community-wide health groups to educate about prevention and wellness around specific conditions.
- It’s 2013. Now is the time to get your doctor online with unconventional physician bios. These days, it’s so important for your physicians to be visible, accessible and connected. Credentials and publications are definitely a must, but striking an emotional connection brings even more value to your patients and community. Including information such as the physician’s care philosophy, their reason for entering into medicine, their weekend hobbies and interesting news about their families allows potential patients to engage with the human side of the physician at the moment of decision-making. Effective physician bios can be a tipping point.
- Is your doctor speaking publicly about the Affordable Health Care Act? As October comes around, reporters will be looking for doctors to give them quotes. Let the media know your doctors are available to chat.
Posted by Jessica Levco, WG Associate
Guest Post: Today’s Post is provided by Carmen Krupar, President, Cybervise
Google+ is not just another social network. It is the only social network that is directly tied into your ability to rank higher in search results. If you are serious about working on Search Engine Optimization this year, Google+ is a requirement. Since this is a social indicator, this isn’t something you can totally do alone. Getting your team involved in Google+ will help give a boost to your SEO efforts and the resulting website traffic will make the resource investment worth it.
Here is how Google+ is influencing your website’s search performance:
- Links posted to Google+ are instantly indexed by Google. So instead of having to wait for Google to find the content on your website, Google+ gives you the opportunity to get listed right away.
- Part of the Google formula in use in 2013 is “Social Signals”. Things like +1’s, Likes, Retweets and Pins are done by real people. Google pays attention to what people are sharing and using that to score your content. All reports from Google and other search engines is that Social Signals will only increase in importance in the years to come. You can assume since Google+ is part of Google, those +1s get the most attention.
- You may have noticed that Google has reformatted their pages of search results so content that has been “+1” by your circles or by you or has a lot of +1s gets bumped to the top.
Using Your Team to Help Your SEO Efforts
There is an opportunity here for your company to use all of your team’s online resources to influence Search results and drive more traffic to your company website as a result of increased search performance. Here is what you need to do:
- Prepare your website – You need to make your content easy to +1 and make sure you get credit for the +1 too. First, you need a +1 button on the webpage you want shared. Second, you need to connect your Google+ page to your website or “Validate” your website with Google+. Here is a great YouTube video to talk you through the technical part.
- Get everyone on Google+ – Anyone who has a gmail account, automatically has a Google+ page. It has been reported that Google gives more credibility to profile pages that are complete. Here is a post you can share to help people complete their profile. Any gmail account will work, it does not have to be related to a company email address. Suggest adding the company website to their list of links, but there is no permanent link to an employee’s personal page and the company page or website.
- Follow your company Google+ page – Suggest that everyone goes to the Company Google+ page and follows or +1’s the page. This will put the company posts in the feed on their personal page and make the content easy to follow. To help people get there, send them to the badge you setup on your website. (See step 1).
- Post Content to Google+ – To make website content easy to share, you will want to create updates on your company Google+ page and link them to the content on your website. If you want to train your team to help out on a regular basis, it will be crucial to regularly post to Google+ so new content is always available. For example, you may only have time for new content once per week, that’s fine, just make sure that if you tell your team it will be posted by Noon on Monday, keep to the schedule.
- Ask your Team to +1 content – To get the boost that you are looking for, you need your team members to +1 your website content. They can either use the +1 button on your website pages or blog posts or go directly to the company Google+ page and use the +1 on your posts.
If you have members of your team that are responsible for sales, I personally believe they should be the number one spreaders of website content in your company. Especially, if they are tasked with following-up on leads from the website. Their job performance and commissions directly benefit from increased website traffic generated by better search performance.
So what if you have a small budget and don’t have an internal team to help? Think about ways you can encourage customers to use those +1’s. I see a lot of customers really concerned about the number of “likes” they are collecting, but Facebook likes don’t have the power to instantly change your search performance. Consider using some of the offers you have used for Likes for +1′s instead.
Posted by Carmen Krupar
Reba Thompson, our Director of Business Development, recently came across a great blog post. It’s about applying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to content development, and it made a lot of sense to me. Maslow was a psychologist, and in my opinion, all writing involves an element of psychology; you’re trying to get inside your readers’ heads, to tell a story, convince them to do something or share information.
So when Reba shared this blog post with me, I was intrigued. As with Maslow’s Hierarchy, Hillary Marsh has created five hierarchies for content. Essentially, as you’re writing, you ask yourself if the content is:
Hillary does a great job of explaining this, and you can read her entire blog post here:
Posted by Christy Schlake, President & CEO
You work hard to earn high rankings with US News & World Report. But how do you effectively communicate the importance of those rankings in a way that gets your target patient audience to care? Here are few ideas for marketing your rankings.
- Create a website/microsite of patient stories specific to each recognized service line. Patient stories are a great way to demonstrate your expertise and make emotional connections.
- Create a social media campaign around your rankings. Social media is the perfect tool for communicating timely information like USNWR rankings. You can highlight and share tidbits of information about each of your recognized service lines, focusing on things relevant to how you can help your patients and how you stand out in a particular area.
- Use the recognition as an opportunity to acknowledge your integrated care team. It’s nice to lift up others, rather than to appear to be bragging. And your internal team will love the recognition!
- Create video testimonials from both patients and physicians. You can post these in social media outlets, and use them in the patient stories sections of your website.
- Avoid bragging. While it’s tempting to brag about your rankings, (they are hard-earned, after all!), your target audience will be more receptive and interested if you can show them why you earned those rankings. Explain how USNWR ranks hospitals and services, then talk about how you met or exceeded those parameters.
- Promote the rankings internally. Send out a “thank you” to your employees for embracing your mission/vision and providing such quality care, taking time to single out those people who directly contribute to the rankings.
The world of healthcare is changing so rapidly that consumers have an even harder time than you do staying on top of it. The USNWR rankings are a nice way to communicate some positive information about your organization to your target audience. Don’t miss the opportunity to do so successfully!
Posted by Christy Schlake, President & CEO
Here’s the news (and it’s kind of old news, now): Your patients are mobile.
While they may, in truth, be the opposite of mobile in terms of their physical health and/or movement ability, most patients now have some sort of mobile device that they use to find the information they need. And that means you’re going to need a plan for reaching patients on those devices.
Writing for mobile differs from writing for the web in a number of ways, but beware the common misperception that mobile content must be brief. Not true. Neither platform has any restrictions in terms of length of content; however, where the term “bread crumb trail” is commonly used in web content, it has no place in mobile. Rather, mobile content is a collection of experiences, not a website per se.
Here are some things to keep in mind when crafting your mobile content strategy:
- Studies show:
- More mobile devices are sold every day than babies are born
- Mobile is critical to massive future growth
- Billions of dollars are being spent in mobile transactions
- It’s not about creating a website anymore; it’s about creating a collection of experiences. Think of content as many parts that come together to form a powerful experience.
- A mobile site is not simply a condensed version of a website. In many instances, people are looking for answers to health questions, rather than for information about a specific hospital or health system.
- When writing for mobile, ask yourself if the information you’re including is important to the user at this moment? For example, if you’re writing about depression, the user might be wondering if s/he is depressed, not how to find the hospital.
So as you’re thinking about and planning your digital strategy for the coming year, it might be worth getting on the mobile bandwagon – sooner rather than later. It’s the fastest growing segment of the digital world, and it’s the best place to reach your target market.
Posted by Christy Schlake, President & CEO
During my five-year career, I’ve attended quite a few conferences. To be exact, it’s been about 30 conferences, which isn’t bad for a 29 year old.
Along the way I’ve attended some fabulous – and some not-so-fabulous – presentations. Based on my experience, I can safely say that the sessions offered at the Healthcare Marketing Summit in Scottsdale were world class. There were so many relevant and interesting sessions that even with three WriterGirl team members, we STILL couldn’t attend all the breakout sessions we wanted. Our solution was to buy the DVD recording of all the sessions, and we can’t wait to get it. This was a first for me. I’ve never been so inspired to purchase the entire three-day collection until now.
Because of this, it would be remiss not to share my top three key learnings with you, especially if you weren’t able to attend. So here goes:
- It’s all about the system. With mergers and acquisitions running rampant across the United States, how are we as marketers meeting the needs of all our entities? Try building one strong, unified brand at the system level. This builds brand recognition in a cost-effective manner. Only after building this strong brand do you drill down to highlight accessibility for the community at the location level.
- Wellness, wellness, wellness! Wellness is the key ingredient in this new value-based healthcare world. As a health institution, you’re being asked to flip your focus to population health management. What kinds of tools do you have in place to meet the wellness and prevention needs of your communities? One way to address this is by creating a second website focusing only on health and wellness. You can also use your social media channels to push wellness content to your patients. Be sure you have strong community outreach programs in place that know and understand the health needs of your particular community.
- Patients live online. Since patients live online, it’s imperative to meet them there. It’s important to look beyond branded platforms and determine where content lives outside of your website. Be relevant and engage in the online conversations or you’ll miss huge opportunities to educate, empower and gain customers.
There’s so much more that I gleaned from this conference, but my best advice to everyone would be to attend next year’s Healthcare Marketing Summit in Las Vegas.
Posted by Reba Thompson, Director of Business Development