How Do Healthcare Provider Websites Differentiate on Digital?

We baselined the digital experience of healthcare provider websites across five key criteria.

Healthcare companies’ approach to digital personalization has never been more important or scrutinized. All eyes are on the healthcare industry as the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe—this presents a unique opportunity for healthcare leaders to innovate and set a new standard for digital-first interactions and patient experiences through personalization.

As healthcare providers transform to meet this opportunity, we analyzed current provider offerings to set a baseline of digital experience excellence, across five key criteria: 

Evaluation Criteria: Utility

Are healthcare websites and digital experiences doing their job? Sort of. While most provider sites are useful and useable to users looking for provider information to help them make informed care decisions, many lack basic user journey tools for the patient. For example, not all provider sites offer to fill out and submit forms online prior to appointments or provide options to make, change or cancel an appointment online. These basic operational utilities can differentiate the experience during key “moments that matter” for the patient, and providers should focus on delivering basic content and information needed by patients before experimenting with rich content or attempting multi-segment digital marketing outreach. 

Pulse Check Grade: B-

Evaluation Criteria: Richness

The pandemic has people on screens more than ever before, but if content isn't engaging, it will be missed. The average daily time spent with digital media in 2020 was seven hours and 50 minutes, and is projected to increase to just under 8 hours in 2022. Acknowledging the digital-first mindset of patients, sites like ZocDoc, Mayo Clinic, and Cleveland Clinic highlight intuitive designs with personalized content paths to help users find the right information. However, many providers are still lacking user-friendly designs to guide patients to useful content. Further, many providers lack the content volume on site in order to effectively personalize. For example, many provider websites still provide generic overviews of specialties rather than use segment images, text and infographics, and video formats to set patient expectations and provide information to better place them in control of their overall health journey. 

Pulse Check Grade: B

Evaluation Criteria: Comprehensiveness

Patient experience is one of the most important factors to executing effective personalization. Healthcare providers should aim to have complete patient-provider relationship at the patients’ fingertips. Showcasing comprehensive healthcare data history, offering appointment reminders, sharing relevant content from partners as a result of prior visits, are all examples of how providers can succeed by offering value-added patient experience. Weill Cornell Medicine, Orlando Health, and Johns Hopkins Medicine are all sites that do this well and engage with patients effectively throughout the patient journey. However, most providers could learn to better connect the overall digital experience in order to gain patient satisfaction, loyalty, referrals, and ultimately, revenues. It’s time for provider websites to: integrate their appointment calendars; to have a seamless online bill payment offering; to trigger emails to ensure patients know their appointment times and are fully prepared in advance. System integration issues are minimal and addressing these issues instantly provides key experiential benefits for patients. 

Pulse Check Grade: C

Evaluation Criteria: Trustworthiness

First and foremost, all personalization efforts need to address key consumer pain points in a secure, trustworthy fashion. Great personalization requires knowledge through consumer-provided data. If consumers don’t feel their data is secure, they won’t provide it to companies. The vast majority of healthcare providers have addressed this need and continue to evolve security as needed. A recent HIMSS survey highlights cybersecurity, privacy, and security as top priorities among the U.S. health information and technology leaders surveyed, with a particularly high intensity from hospital respondents3. Providing critical information in a secure, trusted environment is an important, foundational building block to advanced personalization strategies. 

Pulse Check Grade: A

Evaluation Criteria: Surprise & Delight

Personalization done well makes even the most transactional encounters elegant. Younger patients, raised on Google, Amazon, and Kayak, have higher demands of digital experience. Provider website experiences are lagging, but websites of relatively new providers like One Medical and VillageMD are delivering real, integrated solutions personalized for patients and going above and beyond to provide services and support that patients might not have considered yet. These provider websites put the patient in control of their provider relationship with personalized tools and rich content – excelling at utility, richness, and comprehensiveness – in short, a ‘surprise & delight’ for the user. 

Pulse Check Grade: C-

Healthcare providers are primed to become leaders in digital patient experience through personalization. With the recent pandemic and accelerated shifts to virtual care and web-based health maintenance, providers are especially positioned to advance their personalization strategies. While providers have made recent strides, there is still a lot of potential for improved digital experience. AgencyQ will continue to monitor their progress from this ‘pandemic baseline’ for our provider clients, so they can plan to enhance their digital experiences to drive patient satisfaction and improved health outcomes. 

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