Perks of using medical website personalization

Wrong Medical Website PersonalizationFew relations are more personal than those between patients and their doctors. Still, a lot of medical websites tend to fail to offer content personalization to strengthen and extend these bonds. Content personalization is a tool of influence that can deliver meaningful information such as geo-targeted clinic search and a ‘recently visited’ section with pages and services from visitors’ previous entries.

Why personalize?

Should an urgent situation arise,

A patient doesn’t have enough time to browse through the website and search for answers.

They need a straightforward way to have their injured knee or heart disease examined and treated, putting irrelevant information aside. However, many medical websites don’t answer this need right. They don’t distinguish between visitors, referring them to all-for-one promotions, say, for prostate check discount (imagine how irrelevant such offer would be for a pregnant woman), show all services at once, or give a map with all the clinics locations around several states.

Although these personalization gaps don’t seem to have any obvious implications for customer service / experience, every piece of irrelevant information delays a patient's visit to their physician and postpones an emergency call. As a result, some patients might switch their attention to other providers, if their medical websites designed to offer a direct access to sought-out functions.

How to personalize: problems and solutions

To keep the client base safe and to outrun the competition, healthcare organizations should decide on either building a new website (in case of outdated resources), or optimizing their current medical website design. Looking for a skilled vendor is tricky, and there is a chance the new resource might turn out to be worse than it was before. Here is why: a lot of vendors claim to create websites “for doctors by doctors.”

This catchphrase might seem appealing for caregivers, because physicians trust each other’s expertise. However,

The target goal for a medical website is to engage patients, not doctors.

If developers build a resource tailored for doctors, they won’t be able to personalize the content to answer patients’ needs. As development and customization of a new medical website design requires substantial investments, a vendor’s wrong approach will cost their customer health organization a fortune with no promise of a decent ROI.

To help caregivers select the right vendor to deliver proper content personalization services, we suggest focusing on patients, namely on the following consecutive stages of the customer lifecycle:

  • Patient acquisition
  • Patient retention

Patient Acquisition

Patient acquisition

Personalization can be triggered based on a few pages a visitor has browsed – say, health education materials, interactive video lectures or service descriptions. The website personalization module quickly learns a visitor's interests and starts to offer relevant information.

For example, if a person has viewed some details about MRI on a website, during the next visit he or she can continue where they left off. Once a visitor re-opens the medical resource, he or she is automatically redirected to the Recently Visited section with, for example, the types of MRI offered by that health organization (Brain, Cardiac, Abdomen, Spine, MRA, etc.). This section can also offer associated services such as specialist consultation (perhaps, at a discount).

This approach helps to retain a visitor on the resource and increases the odds of further engagement, be it a question in the “Ask Us” section or a call to schedule a physician’s appointment.

Patient Retention

Patient retention

To engage registered patients, a medical website can partially use the data from their EHR / EMR records and tailor the content accordingly. While a major part of personalization is implemented through a private patient portal module, there is a way to communicate with individuals more personally via a publicly accessed part of the website.

Although the HIPAA restricts using protected health information for marketing purposes, the privacy rules under this Act allow medical resources to implement personalization features that offer ‘treatment advices’ to patients, for example:

  • Shortcuts for the pages with new or updated health plans according to patients' current health plans
  • Redirection to the pages with new services according to patients' health data
  • Discounts and / or promotions relevant to patients’ recent checks and procedures
  • Shortcuts for the pages with a follow-up or overall tests to offer patients free samples of prescription drugs

Guiding patients to better health via personal approach

Content personalization rethinks the very concept of a website, from it being an informative brochure chaotically browsed by a visitor to a careful guide that proactively suggests relevant information to patients.

This type of web-resource optimization serves a single goal – to communicate with patients in the way they need it.

Personalization allows caregivers to convert visitors into patients through individual sets of services and pages, as well as to keep current patients tuned via specific EHR / EMR data use.  

About the Author: Vadzim Belski

Head of Web Development Department at ScienceSoft, a software development and consulting company headquartered in McKinney, Texas. With over 13 years of experience, he has been taking part in web projects with a primary focus on large-scale IT engagements, such as Viber (an instant messaging and VoIP app with 700 mln active users), Globus VPN Browser and others.