Healthcare Personalization: Starter Tactics You've Been Looking For

November 5, 2018 | John Berndt & Mara Low

Personalization can be daunting but we can help

With competition in the health industry on the rise and more options available for care than ever before, strategic personalization tactics can enable your healthcare organization to better satisfy its constituents and set itself apart in the market. Getting started with personalization can be daunting, but patients and referring health professionals alike expect online experiences with hospitals and health systems to be as convenient and seamless as eCommerce experiences. Unfortunately, healthcare websites try to meet so many use cases that the majority of healthcare organizations fail to deliver on these expectations, trailing behind the customer expectations set by eCommerce sites and sites in other sectors. For healthcare, personalization is the key to unlocking greater relevance in what the user sees—and driving greater conversion, customer satisfaction, and successful visit logistics.  

Here are five tried-and-true, relatively easy to implement personalization tactics that you can use to deliver relevant personalized experiences in real-time to drive value for your healthcare organization:   

  1. Feature Convenient Locations  
    Leverage geo-IP detection (a standard feature with Sitecore) to programmatically provide information about the locations or physicians that address a service line or treatment option based on proximity to the user's location. A "locations that treat X condition near you..." or "specialists near you..." feature both helps users find care close to them and shows that your organization values its patients and their time.   

    Achieving this type of personalization requires:

    • Reliable mappings of specialists, locations, treatments, etc., where this technique is going to be used  

    • Structured address information that can be the basis of the proximity calculations using a 3rd party service

    • A mechanism to identify a subset of locations or providers that should be featured in these sorts of components

    • Custom programming to show the closest location that is tagged for the subject at hand

      We insert locations nearest the user in this component for CHRISTUS health.

  2. Reinforce What Visitors Have Already Been Viewing
    Deepen engagement and drive conversions with experiences that are relevant to a user’s interests and their position in the patient journey funnel. How do we know what specialty or treatment a user is interested in - even without a CRM integration? Implementing a content scoring and user profiling framework enables you to identify users that spend a concentration of time on pages about particular service lines or treatments—or who have done related site searches. After 3-5 pageviews of that topic, it becomes clear that the service line or treatment is a focus for the user at the moment.  

    At this point, use personalization to show them reinforcing information about the specialty or treatment through 3rd party validation, or internally produced validation such as patient success stories for the associated treatment/service line.  

    You won’t want to do this for every case; focus your efforts on a set of high-value, strategic instances that have justifying traffic and scale over time.

    We replaced the content on this page with information about Proton Therapy when we determined that a user would be interested in that treatment.

  3. Identify and personalize for referring physicians
    Physician referrals are key to driving patient volume, and the adoption of a single new referring physician who is active can drive major revenue. However, many physicians are engaged with a variety of institutions, so there is competition among those institutions for the attention and affection of those doctors.  

    Personalization can play a significant role in engaging and building relationships with this important audience, marketing and in better enabling them to engage with the institution. Without explicit user identification, you can creatively identify your referring physicians based on the specific pages they visit, external links clicked, or traffic source, such as a portal or newsletter sent to referring physicians.  

    Once a visitor is identified as a potential referring physician, you might more prominently feature a “Refer Your Patient” calls to action; or promote special tools, education and articles that are relevant to physicians to build community with your brand and it their preferred place to refer.  

    Personlization can help direct referring physicians

  4. Reinforce advertising campaigns to improve conversion rates.
    We know that most people turn to the internet when making their healthcare decisions, and that their journey commonly begins with search. You, like many of our healthcare clients, may already be making significant investments in SEM and pay-per-click advertising to help drive valuable search traffic. But, without carrying that experience on-site through personalization, you're not maximizing the ROI on your campaigns.

    For example, if someone searches for “joint pain” and clicks on a related Google ad, we can assume this user’s intention and relative urgency with a high degree of certainty and use this information to drive deeper engagement. In addition to identifying which campaign the user is associated with, we can track if the user achieves the primary goal for that campaign. On any return visits the user makes to your site, you can reinforce the campaign message and call to action for those who did not convert, and use featured content areas to showcase authority and expertise in diagnosing and treating joint pain for the whole audience, regardless of conversion.  

    We reinforced campaigns with supporting content once a user clicks through to the site.

  5. Re-engage users who have abandoned forms before completion.
    Let’s say a user lands on a request for call back form or a newsletter sign up page but does not complete the form. There are many reasons why this may happen—perhaps the user was not ready to commit to the action, or maybe he or she ran into difficulty using the form. Regardless, you can use personalization to re-engage this user by displaying custom calls to action that reinforce the initial decision to begin the form, or by offering an alternate means to complete the transaction.  

    Using personalization as part of a larger conversion funnel optimization strategy is a tried-and-true tactic (especially in eCommerce), and one that has potential to drive great value for healthcare organizations in terms of increasing appointment requests and acquisition rates. When engaging with this tactic, be sure to avoid topical personalization based on a “specialty” input on the form, since this could be considered private health information or PHI, while simply targeting the user based on their abandonment of the form is not.

A note on PHI and HIPAA: You need to be make sure that the data that is driving personalization is not Protected Health Information (PHI)—read our informative blog post on the topic HERE.  

Getting started is hard, but these techniques are evergreen and can give great initial value as you build your personalization practice. These are just a few relatively simple ways that personalization can support your digital healthcare marketing strategies and objectives. Each of the tactics above are great as “pilot” personalization initiatives that you can realize using out-of-the-box features in Sitecore. They are extremely safe from privacy and legal perspectives since they target anonymous users based on their behaviors and do not rely on protected health information (PHI) or personally identifiable information (PII).  

As always, if you’d like to discuss building the personalization or Sitecore practice for your healthcare organization, please contact us. We’d love to talk to you.  

TBG can help you plan an actionable roadmap to get you on the path to personalization with personalization pilots that are designed to deliver immediate results while also helping you build a foundation to grow your personalization practice over time. Contact us today.

About the Authors

JB-avatar
John Berndt

I'm CEO of TBG and I've been thinking about the Web in creative ways since the year it began.

Mara
Mara Low

I am the Manager of Digital Strategy & Optimization with TBG. When I’m not crafting user experiences, you’ll  likely find me fire hula hooping, hiking, or creating up-cycled art.

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