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Health system boosts patient engagement for strong clinical, financial results

Attracting new business meant moving away from tried-and-true marketing initiatives and devising something more modern and personal.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Patient engagement efforts are a critical component to bringing new revenue into a health system, and, historically, hospitals and providers have relied on traditional marketing efforts to bring new patients through their doors. It's not a wholly ineffective strategy, but in a digital world characterized by convenience and personalization, efforts to engage new patients are starting to evolve beyond typical print and television ads.

AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, a health system based in Kansas City, believes it has found a better way, and it has the numbers to back it up.

In a HIMSS20 digital presentation, Kevin Weaver, AdventHealth's digital marketing strategist, said the system needed to find a way to build up its market share without outspending its competitors. The mission was simple: to move away from traditional marketing campaigns, build a program that would foster a more positive patient experience, and retain those patients by making them loyal to the brand.

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Thus, MyHealthKC.com was born.

The idea was to create an online platform that would act as a go-to resource for health-and-wellness content in the Kansas City area, and a central part of the strategy was patient matching, which allows for patients to browse provider profiles and videos in order to find the right match for them – sort of a Match.com for healthcare.

Weaver and Bob Waddell, cofounder and vice president of MD Matchup, which partnered with AdventHealth on the initiative, knew that several ducks had to be in a row before the system green-lit the site launch. The administration had to know what the expected return on investment would be, and physicians wanted to maintain their reputations, which can be made more challenging when patients are reviewing them online; that was to be a central component of the website.

"Physicians like to maintain a high level of control in their work, and reviews can take that control and throw it out the window," said Weaver. "So it was important for us to help them understand the value this would have to our consumers."

A team took the time to travel to each primary care practice in the network to meet with providers and explain the benefits. That was crucial, since the first phase of the website's launch focused on the goal of expanding the health system's primary care line.

"Our ultimate goal was to get new patients to fill up the schedules of the doctors in the primary care world," Waddell said. "We knew we'd be successful if the matching component worked the way it should. It creates patient loyalty, stickiness to the system, and gets them coming back and being more compliant."

For Phase I, the health system honed in on a very specific type of healthcare consumer: an educated, married woman about 40 years old with an average of two children. According to their research, such health consumers typically want preventative healthcare, alternative medicine, holistic wellness programs and access to adult education courses. C&B Solutions provided the requisite market research.

With that patient profile in mind, the website architects devised a 12-question survey based on a psychographic segmentation model that is 91.1% predictive of a healthcare consumer's learning style. The 12 questions identify a patient's "health personality." Providers fill out the same 12 questions, which provides the basis for the matching.

When a consumer accesses MyHealthKC.com, they fill out the survey and see a list of best matches. They then can access physician profile pages and introductory videos to engender a sense of comfort heading into their first appointment.

"From a design point of view, we looked at this as a mobile-first design, because that puts the user first," said Waddell. "We also wanted to give the brand platform a sense of authority."

The team did employ some traditional marketing tactics to make people aware of the website, including digital and print ads. But by and large, knowledge traveled by word of mouth.

For Phase II, the system sought to add a second specialty to the site's offerings, and settled on OB/GYN. The team created a dedicated landing page with OB-specific ads.

"That allowed us to be more targeted in our promotion, and resulted in more intentional engagement from users," Weaver said. For that target audience, the health system tailored content around educated, single, 27-year-old women who value self-reliance, flexibility, personal relationships and the environment.

The website also expanded its written offerings, with blogs written by physicians, food recipes, outreach, events and healthy living guides. It was set up to be more interactive in nature, and included step-by-step instructions for topics like fitness planners and at-home exercise programs.

The results speak for themselves. In the three years since the site has been live, it has attracted 1,329 new patients, and 906 lapsed patients have made appointments. Patients who found a provider through the site averaged three times more clinical encounters than other patients, and were four times more likely to start seeing an in-network primary care provider.

Revenue from new patients has topped $5 million, while lapsed patients who were brought back into the system netted $7 million in revenue. That includes downstream revenue as well. Providers also like the site, with 71% saying it's been an effective marketing and promotional tool.

The health system is currently eyeing Phase III, which will focus on population health and identifying care gaps.

"We believe a robust content strategy will help us to deliver on the promise of our platform being the health-and-wellness hub of all of Kansas City," Weaver said.

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Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com