Why Your Hospital Needs an Accessible Website

On a daily basis, we complete a variety of digital tasks in a matter of seconds or minutes without thinking twice about the complexity. Thoughtful design makes these experiences easy to navigate for the majority of the population. But, what about the 61 million Americans with disabilities? Do they have the same easy-to-use experiences for navigating digital? In this article, we’ll share why your hospital needs an accessible website as well as offer a complimentary, custom impact analysis of where your healthcare organization stands today.

What is accessibility for healthcare?

Digital accessibility is an inclusive act of removing barriers that prevent people with disabilities from engaging with healthcare digital tools and technologies.

An accessible hospital website could include customer experience functions such as:

  • The ability for a website to offer the same functionality when on a mobile device and in a landscape mode
  • A well-designed customer experience that allows users to navigate through features by using only a keyboard.
  • Thoughtful colors and contrasts for all design elements and copy.

The goal of launching an accessible tool is to create thoughtful digital products for ALL. Ultimately, these digital experiences should allow users to navigate essential features and functions without obstacles.

A couple of questions for your team to think about: 

  • Did your team properly implement ARIA labels in your site’s HTML?
  • Do you use color throughout any part of your website or mobile app to convey any visual messaging?
  • Do all forms have clear visual label tags so that screen readers can process them?

Why should my hospital have an accessible website?

Simply put, it’s the right thing to do. 

1 in every 4 adults in the U.S. has some type of functional disability. 

“Disability” is an umbrella term that describes four main groups of impairments which can be broken down into:

  1. Motor
  2. Cognitive
  3. Hearing
  4. Visual

It’s important to remember that some disabilities develop throughout a lifespan while others are present at birth. There is no discrimination against age, gender, or socioeconomic status. Therefore, when designing a website we have to be prepared to tackle all.

In addition, there is a slew of other benefits that are worthwhile to note. 

Social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is a critical factor that ties into the brand perspective. If you treat your customers right and fair they will continue to support you, but the relationship has to start on mutual grounds.

You’ve probably heard plenty of horror stories about how hospitals have been sued for compliance issues. In addition, there was a big out-of-industry case where Domino’s Pizza was sued for its inaccessible website that did not allow for online ordering for those with vision impairments.

In 2020 alone, approximately 11,000 ADA Title III lawsuits were filed in federal courts. While ADA Title III lawsuits have traditionally focused on physical accessibility elements (handicap parking, restroom accessibility, etc.), website and mobile applications are now a prime target for accessibility claims. 

Search engine optimization

This is a win-win! Not only does implementing superb search engine optimization practices help your customers with disabilities, but it also indirectly improves your quality score which will impact your ranking against competitors.

In short, by making your web pages more accessible you’re increasing your chances of being found on search engines.

Why is accessibility overlooked in healthcare?

For the majority of organizations, cost is the highest factor.

Surely, involving a separate quality assurance team to test all implementations takes time and possibly various iterations, but in the end, your team will save money by taking the necessary steps to ensure accessibility standards are met.

If your hospital is not preventative and checks accessibility prior to a new launch it could end up costing your team 2 to 3 times the original cost to fix the issues present.

In short, the time is now. Fix your issues before launching.

How does a hospital tackle website accessibility?

Thankfully there are standards that can help guide your hospital’s website or mobile app design and functionality. For example, our quality assurance team uses the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These guidelines provide criteria for content creators to help ensure all experiences are accessible.

*Tip: WCAG is updating to 2.2 guidelines which are launching in June of 2022!*

Is my hospital’s website accessible?

Is your team able to effectively describe in which ways your website offers a comparable experience to those with visual, auditory, or physical limitations? 

Are you able to answer any of the below?

  • Does my hospital’s mobile app allow for landscape orientation? 
  • Can a user navigate through features by using only the keyboard?
  • Does our team follow WCAG’s color contrast guidelines?

If you’re unable to answer one or any of these questions, it’s time your hospital revisits website accessibility.

Certainly, your team can run all the free accessibility “checkers” to get a pretty okay understanding of major red flags. But having a dedicated team to ensure that you’re covering all bases is much more reliable.

Have Modea complete a custom digital impact analysis to understand where your healthcare organization stands today and how to propel your customer experience for the future.

The 3 Most Common CMS for Healthcare Organizations

We live in a world of instant gratification that drives innovation and the adoption of new technology across healthcare. Consumers expect ease of use and zero lag time while accomplishing a goal in a few simple steps. When it works, it’s a wonderful thing, and when it doesn’t, it can ruin your day. Therefore, designing and building a beautiful and forward-thinking website is just half of the work. The other half is determining where it will all sit, digitally speaking. In this article, we will review three of the most common and widely used content management systems in healthcare

Content management systems for healthcare 

A CMS or content management system is a system that allows you to create, manage, build, and customize the digital experience for an end-user. There are a vast amount of options, however, we’ll focus on the three largest players in the healthcare space and hit a few important highlights and pitfalls of each. 

Picking the right content management systems for your healthcare system is incredibly important. Information needs to be secure, fast to obtain, and hospitals need the ability to manage a CMS with scale while having the confidence that it will not crash. The consequences of a poorly chosen or implemented CMS can be catastrophic to an organization, especially one in an industry as important as healthcare. Especially since we’ve seen a dramatic increase in cyberattacks over the years, in fact, incidents rose 42% in 2020 alone.

If you’re refreshing your consumer digital experience and looking to update your current CMS or move to a new one, this should help.

Open and closed source CMS

Before we go much further, we should talk about the differences between a “closed-source” and “open-source” CMS. With open-source you have a lot more flexibility in everything from pricing to coding. Open-source is “free” for anyone to use and comes with a large community of users and developers constantly working to create and improve the platform and the plugins that come with it. This can lead to a very powerful and robust solution (when done correctly) for almost any website but can also lead to security and vulnerability issues since there are so many moving parts and constant changes. 

All the above is the opposite of closed-source, which does not have an open community and coding options. With this comes increased security but also larger fees and pricing associated with implementing and managing this kind of CMS, since you’re relying heavily on the CMS creators. 

There are pros and cons to each. The main takeaway is that whichever route you choose when done right, will certainly have its benefits. 

So, with that, let’s get into three of the most popular content management systems for healthcare organizations out there. 

WordPress CMS

We will start with the largest and most recognized CMS; WordPress. WordPress holds a whopping 43% market share of all websites on the internet. Yeah, they’re big.

WordPress is an open-sourced CMS that started as a popular blogging platform but has quickly evolved into a leader in the space. Many small, medium, and large (enterprise) sized websites are hosted on WordPress. Its flexible and customizable features are a huge plus for this CMS.

With plugins, community and developer support, and plenty of use cases and documentation to support your needs, it is usually the first choice for a developer team. It’s customizable, SEO-friendly, flexible, scalable, and offers great levels of personalization. It can be very secure, but can often take a bit more leg work. 

Pros and cons of WordPress

In addition to the above, WordPress offers other benefits worthwhile mentioning:

  • It is pretty easy to set up and start working with. 
  • Has a lower cost of ownership and setup.
  • There are thousands of themes and plugins to choose from so that you find the perfect solution for your team’s needs.
  • It’s relatively easy to deploy your changes and enhancements as needed.
  • Is a powerful and modern editor experience when using Gutenberg.
  • There are options for automatic updates to help with plugin management.

While there are plenty of reasons why WordPress is ideal to use, there are a handful of “cons” with using this platform.

  • Security risks are heightened when using a large and open-source CMS. With so many features and plugins, it’s hard to always keep up with updates and minimize risk. For an enterprise site built on WordPress, this could be a full-time job. 
  • WordPress is typically not used on very high-traffic websites. Don’t get me wrong here, they still are to some degree, but we see this being used less and less on your enterprise-level architectures, mainly due to management and security needs. 
  • Finding the best modules for your implementation can be challenging and often the best ones are not free, so additional costs can add up.

Drupal CMS

Drupal is another very popular and robust option for websites of all sizes. It is another popular open-source platform that prides itself on having what they claim is the best experience of any CMS out there. It’s around 20 years old and the current newest version is Drupal 9. 

*Tip: If your team is still on Drupal 7, you’ll lose community support in November 2022. Learn why you should upgrade to Drupal 9 now.*

Drupal holds a much smaller market share of websites, but that shouldn’t deter an organization from migrating over. With its robust offerings, all geared at a great web experience, it’s easy to see why Drupal is chosen for many enterprise builds. It shares the same features as WordPress as well and most CMS’ we talk about all have those by default. Drupal also has some great aftermarket support from companies, like Acquia, and they are able to add a lot to an already-solid system, making it a great choice for large, heavily-trafficked websites

Pros and cons of Drupal

Drupal “pros:”

  • Offers custom content types/capabilities that are more flexible compared to other CMS like WordPress.
  • Comes with advanced security features out-of-the-box, which makes it a perfect choice for security-conscious businesses. 
  • Built with scalability and performance in mind. The platform is capable of handling massive traffic spikes. 
  • Drupal core comes with multilingual support out-of-the-box, and you do not need any additional integrations or modules for the same.
  • You can have more control over access and user permissions. Its built-in access control system allows you to create custom user roles with different permissions. This feature can be highly beneficial for enterprises where access control can be a major issue.
  • Many consider Drupal’s system to be more flexible than other CMS platforms. This makes the content organization much easier. You can group your content together in various configurations.

Drupal “cons:”

  • Setting up with Drupal is not as easy as WordPress and you will need to rely on a Drupal developer who understands the system and complexities to get it up and running smoothly while continuing to manage it.
  • Like WordPress, Drupal has plugins that will need to be updated and supported on a regular basis.
  • Finding the best modules for your implementation can be challenging and often the best ones are not free, so additional costs can come with a Drupal implementation.
  • With older versions of Drupal, like Drupal 7, not all of the newest and better features are available like what can be used with the latest version.

Sitecore CMS

Sitecore is a closed-source CMS that is used by enterprise-level organizations. It focuses on a solid all-around digital experience. With Sitecore you’ll likely be choosing between four main products (Sitecore Experience Commerce, Sitecore Experience Manager, Sitecore Experience Platform, and Sitecore Content Hub) to get your site up and running. Each of those products has its purpose based on your industry which means Sitecore can cater to many market segments. 

Sitecore has established itself as one of the more secure platforms since it is closed-source and doesn’t offer an open door for outside developers and companies to come in and create modules, features, plugins, etc. 

Pros and cons of Sitecore

Sitecore “pros:”

  • As stated above, Sitecore comes out of the box with a high level of security since it is locked down pretty tightly. 
  • The various product offerings of Sitecore make it scalable and customizable for organizations of various types.
  • Sitecore has a really strong content editing interface out of the box. 
  • Unlike some other open-source platforms, Sitecore comes with many sought after features by default, like personalization, analytics, segmentation, and more. 

Sitecore “cons:”

  • Being a custom closed-source platform, changes and enhancements will often take time and become costly. 
  • Speaking of costs, Sitecore is not a cheap CMS out of the gate and requires some steep licensing fees to get started. 
  • When managing your site and backend you will often have to rely on Sitecore’s team of developers to help, which can add time and additional costs. 

Modea’s take on healthcare CMS

When looking for a well-suited CMS, the process begins with taking a deep dive to fully understand the needs of your organization and what will be required to keep your website, and customers, happy. We often assist our clients in selecting a CMS based on many factors such as:

  • Size and capability of a team
  • Who will be managing the system 
  • Any specific, unique needs
  • How often the site will receive updates
  • Total traffic to the site

The above and so much more are included in what we call our “Discovery Phase” and it’s a crucial part of any digital transformation. You can’t build a house without a solid foundation, and a website and digital front piece are no different here. 

Google Analytics for Healthcare: 3 Helpful UX Reports

We work with a variety of healthcare clients who use a plethora of advanced tools to collect big data. Often times the goal is to get advanced analytics on their various digital platforms and campaigns. Hootsuite, Sprinkler, Google Campaign Manager, and of course, the big one: Google Analytics.

No tool is quite so ubiquitous, powerful, or anywhere near as intimidating as Google Analytics. But many users struggle to get as much out of this tool as it offers. In this article, we’ll share a few examples of how your healthcare organization can quickly get powerful insights out of Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is tricky, especially for healthcare

Google Analytics is free and easy to install via a Content Management System interface. The tool collects so much out of the box and therefore you’ll begin collecting helpful data off from the start.

So it’s just easy and low-risk enough that often the marketing department sets up a Google Analytics account. And the installer then becomes the resident “Google Analytics expert”. This is, usually, not a position they have signed up for. However, while the initial setup and installation of this tool are low in difficulty, the learning curve is high

The initial dashboard you’re presented with is easy to navigate.

Google Analytics dashboard

But doing anything deeper and clicking around, let’s say for a custom report is anything but clear

Custom report in Google Analytics

This can feel very complicated. The data itself isn’t always the most welcoming. For example, check out this report in Google Analytics.

Landing page report in Google Analytics

What do all these fields mean? How do I tell the difference between a page and a landing page? What about bounce rate and exit %? Are any of these metrics good or bad? 

Google Analytics does not offer us context for any of these metrics and is therefore very difficult to interpret.

We often see healthcare teams start with the reporting infrastructure but get lost, or worse, overwhelmed, and simply stop.

Google Analytics is incredibly powerful and easy to set up but is hard to utilize without proper context. In practical terms, many hospitals have Google Analytics but can only get a fraction of the insight that they should be able to get from it.

So, here are a few real-world examples of how to get this UX information and how to use it.

Helpful UX Google Analytics reports to pull for your healthcare organization

There are a wealth of ways you can cut and slice this data. If you’re overwhelmed, I have good news for you: there are a bunch of very simple ways to access and view this data without a ton of effort. Small wins can make the tool less overwhelming!

Below are three common scenarios that will be meaningful to a healthcare system like yours. In addition to quick-and-dirty data, you can pull to have a meaningful, data-informed conversation.

Scenario 1: Our health system’s homepage is super important and we must add this feature to it!

There’s a consistent theme that we run into when designing a website: somebody important (usually a VP or equivalent) comes to a meeting with an idea-request-demand. 

“Hey, we just got a big grant for our excellent cardiology research,” they say. “We should promote this and make cardiology more prominent on our website’s homepage!”

Now, your initial thought may be “Okay how can we add this feature or content? But I don’t want to disrupt the homepage”. Or even “No, we can’t just redesign the homepage to account for your whims.”

But there’s a deeper issue we need to unpack first.

The homepage isn’t your patients’ front door

The assumption is that the homepage is the place where most people will see that information is not accurate.

Here’s what I mean. Go to your Google Analytics account right now and see how many people ENTER the site on the homepage. You can do in Universal Analytics via this report:

Landing page report in Google Analytics

And the report you’ll look at will look something like this:

Page path report in Google Analytics

What do we see here? First of all, yes, there are a ton of entrances on the homepage. If we look at the helpful percentage beside the homepage indicator, we can see that it’s still less than a quarter of the total entrances.

Keep that in mind: roughly 8 out of 10 people enter healthcare sites on a page other than the homepage

We find this is broadly true across basically every client we work with in the healthcare space. Most consumers enter the site on a ‘detail’ page (provider, location, or service-line specific pages on your website).

Why does this matter for your conversation with your C-Suite person? How could or should we better use our data? 

Well, people often think of homepages as the front doors of the website, however, that’s wrong.

Google is the “front door” of your website, and it dumps users into the interior of your site with regularity. These detail pages like “www.hospital.com/doctors/your-doctor-name-md” or “www.hospital.com/service-line/cardiology.”

What report can I pull Google Analytics?

Healthcare websites often have simple, easy-to-filter URL strings that can be used to parse out content types like “locations/” or “/providers/”. A filter for those strings can give you a long, inclusive list of these granular types of content pages. This will allow you to see a clearer picture of exactly where people are arriving on your website.

Page report in Google Analytics

Even with these simple queries, we’ve shifted the conversation to a more interesting place: 12,000 visits began on provider detail pages! If we really want to increase the visibility of our cardiology research then we should increase visibility on the provider pages.

And while we’re at it, how can we increase the connective tissue on those provider, location, and service-line pages so that people can more easily navigate the site?

Looking at entrances and specific groups of URLs, can often be an easy way to figure out the real “front doors”. If it’s not what you expect, that can be a helpful way to redirect either strategy (how do we adjust to this new reality?) or spending (should we invest in better SEO performance for these areas that are underperforming?).

*Our recommendation*

We suggest that rather than add a feature to the homepage highlighting cardiology, we could instead add some content to both highlight the awesome research and make those provider profiles or location pages even better and more appealing. 

Scenario 2: Our online appointment tools aren’t working and we should scrap them!

Here’s another common example:

Southeastern Hospital put a bunch of time, money, and effort into building out online scheduling tools to allow its users to digitally book appointments. That’s great! But so far, it seems like the result is a paltry trickle of actual people coming in for appointments.

The first thing we should recognize is that the big call-to-action button on our website that allows users to “schedule an appointment online” is not the end of the user journey. Rather it’s just one step along the way from deciding I need care” to “physically present in a doctor’s office“.

Here’s how we often think about our digital tools:

User visits site –> user clicks on CTA = Conversion!

And that is, unfortunately, an oversimplification.

An actual user flow

An actual user flow will look something more like this:

  • User Googles “Doctor near me”.
  • Visits site on doctor profile page.
  • Browses 1-5 other pages.
  • Returns to doctor profile page.
  • Clicks on a CTA.
  • Kicked out to internal form on separate site.
  • Fills out a form.
  • Submits request appointment form.
  • Gets to thank you page.

It’s a much more complicated and multistep process. At every step, a user can abandon the process. Often, a surface-level look will simply tell us the end result of our user journey. Rather we need to focus the whittling down what occurs throughout the process.

  • 1000 users google “doctor near me”.
  • 400 visit site on doctor profile page.
  • 320 click on CTA.
  • 315 start filling out the form.
  • 50 submit the request appointment form.
  • 45 actually show up to an appointment.

In this equation, where is the dropoff? Where is the pain point? Is it the design and placement of the button? Or is it in the form that individuals are required to fill out online?

This is an important UX feature.

What report can I pull Google Analytics?

An easy way to find this in Google Analytics is the creative use of custom segments. When logged in to Google Analytics, pull up the segment builder to create a new segment:

Custom segment in Google Analytics

If you hit the ‘preview’ button, you can see exactly what percentage of users accomplished this task. When you update that segment with a subsequent step, you can see the preview changes:

Custom segment in Google Analytics

That’s a quick-and-dirty way to get some identification as to where there’s a bigger-than-expected dropoff in sessions or users, and use that to direct your efforts. You still have to be able to accurately identify the steps and for this, you’re going to want to use either events + pageviews if you have them, or URL string fragments if you don’t. 

*Our recommendation*

Think through what we can do better about that particular stage in the journey? Can…

  • A form be shortened or simplified?
  • Load time be increased?
  • Move elements to more visual prominence to facilitate the user’s journey?

And, if this step is difficult, is it even necessary?

Scenario 3: Our internal search tools aren’t working at all

This is another common issue we run into with our hospital clients: somebody comes storming in and says…

Our internal site search stinks! I’ve been searching my name/specialty/location and no relevant results pop up! We’ve got to reassess how our search results are ranked, it’s all wrong.”

Before we fully revamp our search weighting, let’s figure out a quick way to use Google Analytics to get an answer to that question. 

What do we mean by “successful”?

The first thing you should ask in this situation is not “is our internal search successful?” but rather, “what do we mean bysuccessful?’’

Maybe this is “select a relevant search result from the list displayed.” Maybe you want this to be “clicks on a specific CTA” after that search result. Maybe you want them to end up in a specific location or URL on the website. 

Most of the time, the simplest way to ascertain “success” for an internal search tool is “did the user find a relevant search result?” The good news is that there is a straightforward way of getting that information.

Almost all the time, your search information will be pushed into the URL in the form of parameters. They’ll look something like this, and populate when a user executes a search:

Query string from Google Analytics

This process makes it easy to trace a user through the search journey. It also is why we like using URL parameters rather than or in addition to Google Analytics’s native site search features: this allows us to get information on the filters used as well as the queries used, and most healthcare providers have internal find-a-doc or find-a-location tools that feature filters very heavily.

What report can I pull Google Analytics?

So what do we do here? We look for the search pages with a query parameter attached. The easiest way to do this is by content categorization. We’re looking for two specific steps here: 

  • A user who entered a query into our search tool.
  • A user who subsequently clicked on a relevant result.

In order to do this, we need to run a very simple report: We need to go to the “All Pages” report, located here in the GA interface: 

All pages report in Google Analytics

Once there, we are going to add a secondary dimension called “Previous Page Path” to the report.

Previous page path report in Google Analytics

The last piece of this puzzle is to add a custom filter to this report, where we filter the previous page path to only include URLs that include an entered query (that’s the “?” piece of this puzzle. And yes, I have chosen an example that is particularly clear-cut, if you want to choose a messy example well then you should use that in the blog you write). We also filter the page paths to include only those pages with a provider profile page as the next page.

Filter in Google Analytics

*Our recommendation*

So what we have here, then, is a helpful little dataset: we know what queries are entered, as well as what pages they subsequently ended up on. 

You can adjust the filter that you use to be more or less specific or more inclusive and see what specific filters or queries led to, or what specific results were clicked on. You could even use either the Google Sheets integration via API or an API call from R or Python and get even more detail there as well, but even without that, these steps would give you a pretty good first look at the data and let you feel more confident and familiar with moving forward! 

An ending note

I hope this has provided you with some helpful first steps towards actually getting MORE out of your Google Analytics implementation in a real, practical, tactical sense. These are all really common, simple versions of analyses and data diving that we do for our clients regularly. 

However, I also want to make a note here: each of these scenarios involves some strategic thinking as a preamble to their execution.

Example #1

We have to redirect from a poorly formed directive to a better research direction and question.

Example #2

First, we have to better identify and layout our user funnel and identify the steps involved.

Example #3

We have to identify and align on how we’re defining “success.”  That part of the puzzle is, of course, every bit as important as the analysis itself (I argue it’s more important, but this is a blog post trying to give you tactical stuff to do and get some cool use out of a tool you probably already have!).

We hope these tactics can be used to get some real use out of your free tools! Good luck, and don’t be afraid to break things.

What You Need to Know: Digital Front Door

The buzzword “digital front door” has been used in healthcare circles since 2017. The concept itself is by no means “new” and is actually the reason why Modea exists.

In this article, we will explain what a digital front door is, why it’s crucial for the future success of your healthcare organization, and 3 principles to get your team started.

What is a “digital front door”?

Over the years, we’ve seen retail giants pave the way for what user experience should look and feel like. As e-commerce grows and competition is at an all-time high, organizations must craft and launch award-winning, omnichannel experiences for consumers. Often with a goal of allowing the user to seamlessly engage with the brand through connected experiences

Healthcare should be no different. And good news! We’ve seen a huge shift in how healthcare providers are prioritizing digital investments over the past few years.

These investments are providing impactful forward movement. Unfortunately, much of this work in healthcare is siloed and can still create pain points for the consumer. If providers want to win more customers in today’s digital landscape, they need to stop seeing digital as a collection of features. Rather, see digital as the way to build a better and more connected customer experience.

“Digital front door” is a strategy that guides healthcare providers to do just this.

“Digital front door is a strategy that leverages the use of technology to create a better and more connected customer experience.”

Often, a digitally connected customer experience in healthcare will include tools such as:

  • Public websites that provide clear information, search tools, and easy access to scheduling.
  • Mobile apps that allow for easy access to the patient portal and provide tools such as symptom checkers or wayfinding.
  • A well-integrated patient portal that provides broad account management.
  • Well-designed and transparent appointment scheduling.
  • Access to scheduled or on-demand telehealth visits.
  • Digital service channels via live and AI-based chat.

To be clear, this strategy is not about spinning up new and confusing technologies. Instead, it’s taking the time to truly understand what your customers need most. Remember, you should be making it easier to interact with your brand on a daily basis across platforms. If that means creating something new, then great! Remember, having the right plan and roadmap is the next critical step you would need to take to be successful.

Why should my organization care?

It’s simple. If your healthcare organization doesn’t provide an easy-to-use omnichannel experience, from initial appointment scheduling through the final bill, your patients might go elsewhere, even if the care isn’t as good.

It’s never been easier for a consumer to:

If you don’t invest in the future of your healthcare system now and use your connected digital experiences as a differentiator, not only will your regional competition take away your customers, but so will disruptive new entrants.

3 principles for creating a strong digital front door

So, how should your healthcare system get started? Our team suggests following these 3 simple principles in order to create a strong digital front door.

#1 Connect your customer data and use it well

Every healthcare system has a lot of data, whether or not they are analyzing and consuming that data. A common issue is that data is inherently messy and often housed in silos. This makes it difficult to connect and use it to inform better personalization and digital optimization strategies.

Think about how your local grocery store chain uses your consumer data. They provide relevant and timely coupons based on previous purchases.

Healthcare should be no different

If a customer receives a CRM-generated email and clicks through to a website, the health system could already know plenty of marketing data about the patient. Such as recent searches, what appointments they’ve had, which vaccinations they’ve recently received, etc. If this type of data is being joined and consumed, then the customer can have a more rich, personalized experience.

If your healthcare system is not doing this yet, answering these questions can help your team understand where to start. 

  • Where and how are we capturing customer data?
  • Where and how are we connecting this data?
  • Is our team analyzing and consuming this data to drive initiatives?
  • Do we make data-based decisions?

Free resources:

#2 Create an omnichannel customer experience that works well across all touchpoints

Today you can book a room through Marriott’s mobile app in ways you never could before. When a guest walks into Marriott’s hotel the mobile app will prompt the guest to digitally check in. The guest can now use their phone as a digital key to get into their room and enjoy their stay. All is done without interacting with a single person or waiting in long lines. The experience is simple, easy to use, and leaves the guest happy. Overall, guests engage with the brand in the manner that is most comfortable for them. The key is that they have a unified, on-brand experience throughout each touchpoint.

This example provides inspiration for healthcare by showing how a digital front door strategy can infuse digital tools into an experience to provide frictionless access and thoughtful touchpoints.

The goal is to ensure that your organization creates experiences that make your customers’ lives easier and more convenient.

What does this look like for healthcare?

For healthcare, this could start with having a patient book an appointment online. When the patient arrives at the physical building the system’s mobile app sends a notification to check-in at a kiosk. The patient does so and is then prompted to sit and wait to be called by the physician. This would provide an experience that minimizes friction and maximizes convenience.

The problem is that historically healthcare has not been at the forefront of creating these beautiful, seamless experiences. We’ve seen healthcare systems spin up mobile apps without a purposeful strategy time and time again. The reasoning, more often than not is, “but our competitors have a mobile app”. 

This thought of “but they have it” is dangerous. Your organization needs to be focused on digitizing healthcare but it is critical to do so with purpose. Don’t fall into the trap of creating and building a bunch of products that are not integrated into your brand’s experience at large. This can even cause more frustration and confusion for your customers.

We suggest starting with a customer journey mapping exercise to find clarity on what’s most important. A journey map is an in-depth process that shows you and your organization how consumers are interacting with your brand. A journey map identifies gaps and opportunities and ultimately gives you a holistic view of what your organization needs.

#3 Honor your brand in the digital front door

With each touchpoint, your customer needs to know that the continuous experience is that of your brand. If your messaging is not consistent with your brand, mission, and values then you’ll be missing the opportunity to create meaningful brand loyalty with customers.

This suggestion may seem obvious, however, it’s essential to the success of your customer experience. All touchpoints need to have consistent messaging across the board. Whether that’s your mobile app, website, paid advertising, a kiosk, print mailers, etc. Moreso, your digital tools should reflect what makes you special as an organization.

Patagonia is the ideal example of this. The company’s mission statement is “we’re in business to save our home planet”. This statement is blatantly obvious to see, feel, hear whenever a consumer engages with their online content. Sees an ad (famously known for their “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign) or buys clothing from a retailer. Even their product pages reinforce that as a brand, Patagonia isn’t just trying to sell you stuff.  

Tip: Your organization should have a brand voice and kit to help guide consistency across all platforms.

Next Steps 

In summary, the time is now.  Start today by strategically improving every touchpoint along your customer experience. If you don’t, you could lose business to another hospital system. Or even worse one of the many non-traditional competitors out there who are now providing healthcare services.

If your team feels overwhelmed by the size of the initiative, start small. Complete a customer journey mapping exercise to learn more about your patients and what they need.

Interested in learning what your organization should be thinking about and planning for? 

We’re here to help

Contact us and we’ll set up a time to chat. We’re happy to share how our clients are connecting their patient experiences at large.

3 Tips for Building EHR-Integrated Mobile Apps

We recently stated in our “4 Lessons on Digital Transformation” article that mobile is the next critical platform. And although it is still early in the adoption curve, we see that many healthcare systems are taking control of their mobile patient experience, just like our clients at Ballad Health who recently built an EHR-integrated mobile app.

Our seasoned experience in the digital and mobile app space has allowed us to work with clients like UHS, Carilion Clinic, and Footmaxx to deliver apps used by thousands of users each day. Our data-driven approach and monitoring have allowed us to learn a great deal about what workedwhat can be improved, and mistakes to avoid; which we’ll cover today.

If your team is considering building an EHR-integrated mobile app these 3 tips will be essential to your success. Learn from us, cut down on your go-to-market timeline, and launch a stellar all-in-one mobile app for your patients!

Tip #1: Submit to the app stores early

Trust us, it’s not as easy as it sounds, but don’t be discouraged, with the right information on what to expect you’ll be able to launch your app in time for your deadline. 

#1 We suggest that ahead of time you become familiar with the requirements and process for submitting your app. This in itself is pretty simple.

#2 Apple can be challenging when trying to quickly get through the steps of approval. Meaning that they will most likely suggest recommendations for fixes before you can publish your app. We highly suggest adding buffer time to your launch and prepare for fixes. We did not have this same experience with Google, approval was simple.

#3 Communicate with your executive team (client-side) and provide education around what the approval process looks like. This way, everyone is on board with why Apple requires iterations prior to approval.

Pro-tip: your app does not have to be live before you submit it for a review with Apple.

Tip #2: Plan your measurement strategy

Pulling consumer data out of Apple or Google app stores is a hard and manual process. In addition, there are not many metrics that either store will provide, so do not expect to receive a cornucopia of consumer data without much work.

#1 Think about what data you’ll want in advance and create a strategy for how to obtain it. Do not wait until launch to think through your measurement plan.

Our Analytics team uses Firebase Analytics for many mobile apps and manually created events based on KPIs and specific questions we needed to answer post-launch. This takes time, so if you’d like to track higher-level metrics to explain engagement, do not wait until launch to create, test, and implement a plan.

Home page, physician profile, and location pages from Ballad Healths mobile app on mobile devices

Tip #3: Get aligned with MyChart

Part I: Authentication is complicated

Whether you’re using Epic MyChart, Cerner HealtheLife, or any other EMR with the corresponding patient portal, do as much testing as you can when leveraging authentication.

#1 Start testing as early as possible to mitigate crashes

There are many complexities with authentication and highly suggest that your team starts testing functionality as soon as possible. Do not assume that what you set up will work; test, test, and test again.

Part II: Be familiar with MyChart’s release cadence 

Before you start building the app, become very familiar with MyChart’s (or your EMR of choice) release cadence. Otherwise, you’ll be joyfully unaware of upcoming releases and there is a large possibility that your app’s features will break… resulting in more work for you and your team.

#1 Know if the features you’re leveraging will be updated and when

Save some time now and look at your EMR’s release calendar. Luckily Epic is very upfront about what they have in store so we could plan accordingly.

Want to learn more?

Check out the full recording from our recent webinar with Ballad: How to Build an EHR-Integrated Mobile App or download the quick and easy-to-read PDF version.

Why Hospitals Should Upgrade to Drupal 9 Now

What does upgrading your Drupal platform have to do with cybersecurity at your healthcare system

Everything

Nefarious actors like hackers are experts at exploiting weaknesses in unsupported content management systems.

Making sure you have the most up-to-date version of Drupal (or any other CMS) is one key step you can take to minimize security risks. Without security updates and support, your website is vulnerable.

This is especially true for healthcare organizations and health systems that use Drupal 7 or 8. This means you haven’t yet migrated to Drupal 9, which was released in June of 2020.

Here’s why this matters now: Drupal is ending community support for Drupal 7 in November 2022. Community support for Drupal 8 will end in November 2021.

Those looming dates might instill fear in healthcare organizations, especially considering the move from Drupal 7 requires a rebuild. But the benefits are worth it. 

Not only will you have access to the latest security updates and support, but Drupal 9’s new features can also make running your health organization’s website easier and smoother.

Make the Big Leap and upgrade from Drupal 7 to 8 or 9

Drupal calls the move away from 7the last big migration.” Drupal 8 was essentially a reinvention of Drupal, with fundamental changes in how your content is stored. 

This means that your content can’t just drop in, as it might with other updates. You have to set up a migration and map to the new way of doing things. The good news is that once your health system makes this last big migration, it will be far easier to make major updates in the future.

Two things to keep in mind:

  • If you’re coming from 7, you have options: Use 8 as a step to 9, or go right to 9. (We have a health system client currently on 7 that we’re moving to 9.)
  • If you’ve already rebuilt for 8, upgrading to 9 will be far less involved. (We have several clients on 8 who we’re moving to 9.)

What Healthcare Organizations Will Appreciate About Upgrading to Drupal 9

Drupal has incorporated some popular community modules into 9, which makes it even more out-of-the-box. That’s important for digital teams inside healthcare organizations who have a lot on their plate—especially right now in the era of COVID-19.

Compared to Drupal 7, Drupal 9 features the same structured content-based system that’s easy to work with. Here are a few things we’ve noticed about Drupal 9 that may be especially beneficial for healthcare organizations

A strong layout builder

Hospital websites have many types of pages, such as specialties, conditions, treatments, locations, and visitor information—all built around components that web teams need to be able to customize. Drupal 9 features a visual design tool that lets you easily build layouts, reuse blocks, and customize the different parts of the page.

Better media library

Video is an increasingly important content element for health systems. It provides a way to authentically communicate patient stories or explain conditions. With Drupal 9, you’ll have the ability to embed remote content such as YouTube and Vimeo videos. There’s also a Media Library module, so you can easily add media assets.

Better page view performance

There’s a strong correlation between page load time and bounce rate for healthcare organizations. The BigPipe module increases page view performance by sending the main “content” area of a page even if sidebars or other pieces of content are still being generated.

Front-end and back-end developer improvements

Drupal 9 has HTML5, additional helper libraries, accessibility enhancements, and enhanced base themes that front-end developers will appreciate. On the back end, there’s better integration with third-party services, which many health organizations rely on.

How Hospitals Can Prepare to Migrate to Drupal 8 or 9

Healthcare organizations still on 7 might be using modules that weren’t ported over to either 8 or 9. That’s one of the biggest watch-out areas we’ve encountered so far.

You’ll need to take an audit of every module your current website is using. For any modules you want to keep, make sure there is a compatible version for 8 and 9. If there isn’t, you’ll need to search for a replacement. 

We’ve found that this is a pain point for hospitals. But with the right planning, you can keep all the functionality you need—and usually gain functionality.

If you’re moving from 7, it’s a good opportunity to redesign, especially if you’re considering making informational architecture changes. You’re essentially re-platforming, so it makes sense to revisit the look and feel of your site, as well as how well it performs and meets users’ needs.

Healthcare is a rapidly evolving industry, and patients are increasingly consumer-minded. They value convenience, clarity, and transparency. They want their healthcare web experience to be as straightforward as booking on Airbnb. 

If your website is behind in meeting these expectations, the move to Drupal 8 or 9 is the perfect time to align with the latest best practices for healthcare website design.

What About Upgrading from Drupal 8 to 9?

Drupal calls moving from 8 to 9the easiest major upgrade in a decade” and we agree. Drupal 9 was mostly built in Drupal 8, so it will be very familiar.

You’ll still want to make sure that your hosting environment is compatible with what Drupal 9 requires. Also, make sure your codebase doesn’t use deprecated APIs. There are tools you can use to identify deprecated APIs in your codebase and fix them. 

Since support for 8 ends this year, it’s critical to make the move to 9 as soon as you’re able.

Modea is here to help healthcare organizations create the best web experience possible for consumers.

Have questions about upgrading or migrating to Drupal? We’re happy to help.