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How to Use On-site Personalization to Enhance the Customer Experience in Healthcare

Healthcare Personalization

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Published October 4, 2017 · Updated May 23, 2024

How to Use On-site Personalization to Enhance the Customer Experience in Healthcare

We believe that success in enhancing patients’ digital journey depends on understanding their preferences. That’s why it’s crucial to base your digital strategy on reliable statistics and measurable data.

This is why in previous posts we’ve described the benefits of using reliable web analytics in healthcare. We’ve covered topics such as:

But now it’s time to go one step further and introduce the second-most valuable marketing technology that, when used wisely, is a very powerful asset in your digital marketing arsenal. We’re talking about content personalization in healthcare.

Although web analytics is a handy tool that delivers valuable insights about the way patients interact with your platform, personalization is what gives you the power make your data actionable.

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Hold your horses – what are you talking about?

We’re aware that this technology is quite new and requires further introduction. So let us explain what it’s all about.

To put it concisely, personalization tools allow you to segment your visitors and then display customized messages on your website or mobile app. Although the possibilities for using personalization are endless, several areas lend themselves more easily to its use:

  • Product & content recommendations (e.g: articles about the treatment of certain medical conditions, dietary recommendations, annual checkup reminders, and more)
  • Cross-promotion (e.g: information on additional services or different health plans)

With this tool at your fingertips you can tailor the experience of specified user groups, providing them with easy access to information and services that are relevant to their needs.

We know that the definition presented above is rather short and some of our readers probably want to read about it in more detail. If you’re one such reader, check out these blog posts:

They’ll give you a thorough overview of the issue. Now, let’s go back to our main subject.

Why should I use content personalization?

The answer to this question is simple – because personalized content and offers are really effective. A recent study found that customized promotional e-mails produce six times more revenue than those that weren’t personalized. Moreover, another study showed that personalized promotional content gets three times more clicks than standard offers.

Adding even more weight to the argument, results of a survey by Janrain & Harris Interactive showed that nearly 75 percent of internet users get annoyed when content displayed on the websites they’re visiting is not relevant to them.

The same goes for healthcare. When a patient visits the doctor for the first time they expect an initial background interview. But when they come back for another visit, they don’t want to repeat everything they said during the first appointment. Otherwise, they’ll feel their doctor isn’t paying enough attention to them.

Your online visitors expect your digital platform to do the same thing. Last year’s “Health plans: What matters most to the health care consumer. Deloitte’s 2016 Consumer Priorities in Health Care Survey” revealed that personalized experiences are considered the most important types of interactions with healthcare providers. Consumers find them three times more relevant than any other set of interactions, including in the following areas:

  • economically rational coverage and care choices,
  • convenience-driven use of care, and
  • digitally connected to manage health care.

This means that personalization in healthcare is no longer a nice-to-have feature. It has became a strategic imperative for every business operating in this sector.

A line you shouldn’t cross

All that said, keep in mind that the line between making your patients comfortable and being intrusive is quite thin. This is especially true in healthcare marketing where privacy is a paramount concern. On one hand, people want to find information that’s relevant to them and their specific healthcare needs. But on the other hand, this can’t be at the cost of patients feeling uneasy about the amount of information strangers (in this case – marketers!) have about their health conditions.

A survey conducted in 2015 showed that consumers are concerned about the way companies use their data. Nearly 96 percent of respondents claimed that the idea that businesses and organizations know the information required to serve them personalized ads makes them feel uncomfortable.

Content personalization in healthcare – restrictions to keep in mind

Customer preferences are not the only demands you should pay attention to. Sector restrictions prohibit the use of an individual’s PHI (protected health information) for marketing purposes without an authorization being signed. These requirements are set out in HIPAA and the HITECH Act. However, the most recent law — known as The Mega-Rule (HIPAA Omnibus Rule) — excludes certain activities from the definition of marketing. These include:

  • treatment of an individual by a healthcare provider,
  • describing a health-related product or service,
  • information about a company being part of a healthcare provider network or health plan network,
  • health-related products or services that add value to a health plan, but are not part of it,
  • case management or care coordination, when providers contact individuals with information about treatment alternatives, and related functions.

As you can see, although the list is not extensive, it still leaves a lot of room for promotional activities compliant with regulations and which don’t require consent from your patients.

Important note! Using marketing tools in a privacy-demanding sector like healthcare requires the application of additional security measures. For more information about the sectoral data-privacy requirements you should meet, we advise you to visit this page.

How to make it work

We know that talking about purely theoretical concepts is not particularly helpful. That’s why we now want to show you a practical use case of content personalization in healthcare. We’ll do it using the example of a patient-facing platform available only for logged-in users.

Why focus our attention there? First, because it’s more challenging. These kinds of platforms are filled with sensitive data and should be handled with due diligence. Second, because patient-facing modules are the place where your clients spend the most time and perform the most activities on the platform. That’s why it’s so important to design them to fit your patients’ needs and expectations.

So, let’s proceed to the use case of utilizing personalization without putting your patient data at risk. For your convenience, we’ll explain it with an example from the Piwik PRO Analytics Suite.

Sample use case: Using segments to target people with chronic illnesses and provide them with valuable recommendations regarding their treatment

Let’s say you want to improve online medical care for patients afflicted with chronic illnesses, like diabetes, hepatitis or arthritis. You want the patient-facing platform to display relevant health recommendations regarding particular illnesses, including recommended dietary plans, exercises, supplements and more. That way, you’ll help your patients improve the quality of their lives despite their illness, while boosting their level of satisfaction with your services.

What you do in this case is:

  • You import the chronic illness data of your patients into Piwik PRO Data Management to create enriched client profiles. You then build audiences to count and segment sufferers of chronic conditions (e.g. audience #1: users with arthritis, audience #2: users with diabetes, audience #3: users with hepatitis, audience #4:…).
  • Then you use the audiences in a personalization campaign. You promote content on customized banners and other placements that is relevant to patients with certain health conditions (e.g. personalized care instructions and dietary recommendations for patients who suffer from diabetes, or stretches to improve pain management for patients suffering from arthritis).

The result: Your patients are more informed about the nature of their conditions, and they take steps to improve the results of their treatment by changing their lifestyle choices. The cost of treating patients decreases while their quality of life increases. They actively prevent complications from their diseases and improve their chronic disease management strategies.

How to improve the digital journey in healthcare with web analytics & personalization – final thoughts

As you can see, personalization can be a very valuable tool for marketers trying to meet the expectations of today’s patients. However, we’re aware that all the information presented above is just the tip of the iceberg. That’s why we’ve decided to put together an exhaustive guide on leveraging personalization to improve the customer experience in healthcare.

Our guide is called “How to improve the digital journey in healthcare with web analytics & personalization”. In it you’ll find:

  • an overview of the most important data privacy regulations and their impact on the industry,
  • a list of the most popular myths slowing down the digitization of healthcare, and most importantly,
  • three more use cases for content personalization in healthcare.

Click here to download it for free!

Free Ebook: How to improve the digital journey in healthcare with web analytics

Learn all the important aspects of optimizing the customer experience on your patient-facing platforms, stay in line with data privacy and security regulations (including GDPR & HIPAA).

Download FREE Ebook

If you have any questions about our guide, products, or anything else, feel free to contact us anytime. Our experts will be happy to help you out!


Karolina Lubowicka

Senior Content Marketer and Social Media Specialist

An experienced copywriter who takes complex topics of data privacy & GDPR and makes them understandable for all. LinkedIn Profile

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