We believe that successfully 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. In the United States alone, 96% of hospitals have switched from paper records to online portals to aid doctors track testing, imaging and visits, then offer patients access to their health information. All that means obtaining data.
However, in a tightly regulated sector such as healthcare, protecting and responsibly handling sensitive data must always come first. Once you have all the necessary safeguards and compliance practices in place, you can use the gathered information to help your customers and medical care providers.
In previous posts we’ve described the advantages of using reliable web analytics in healthcare addressing legal and technical aspects you need to consider. The details are here:
- You don’t have to sign a BAA with your web analytics vendor to be HIPAA-compliant
- Is Google Analytics HIPAA-compliant?
Here we’ll go one step further and show you how to employ data to enhance the patient experience across digital platforms of hospitals and clinics. We’ll walk you through use cases involving Piwik PRO Analytics Suite and personalization methods, so you can offer a better patient experience while saving money.
How do technology and marketing tactics cut it in healthcare?
With web analytics delivering valuable insights about the way patients interact with your app, website or platform, even in post-login areas, personalization gives you the power to make your data actionable.
Technology combined with personalization methods allow you to segment your visitors and then display customized messages on your website or mobile app. Although there are endless possibilities for using these tactics, several areas lend themselves more easily to them:
- Product & content recommendations: e.g., articles about the treatment of certain medical conditions, dietary recommendations, annual checkup reminders
- Cross-promotion: e.g., information on additional services or different health plans
If you want to read about these methods in more detail, take a look at our blog post:
Keep your visitors coming back for more with dynamic website personalization
A marketing arsenal equipped with web analytics, customer data platform and personalization functionalities means you can tailor the experience of speciﬁed user groups, providing them with easy access to information and services that are relevant to their needs.
It’s no wonder that organizations across the whole sector are investing in software – it lets doctors tailor treatment options and regimens to individual patients’ condition. And by increasing engagement across digital channels, care providers can upgrade treatment services and lower their costs.
Using marketing tools in a privacy-demanding field such as healthcare requires extensive security measures. Make sure your vendor lets you work in line with all relevant regulations.
With Piwik PRO Analytics Suite you can be sure that whether you deploy on premises or in the cloud, you will get complete HIPAA compliance, including top-level data protection. For more details about sectoral data privacy obligations you should meet, we advise you to visit this page.
Is your analytics project HIPAA-compliant?
Download the checklist covering 7 key areas and 32 questions about HIPAA requirements
What are the benefits of applying analytics in healthcare?
Customers’ growing demands and expectations are something the medical care industry can’t ignore. Traditional hospitals and clinics are facing the challenge of providing top-class services for their patients.
Fortunately, digitization brings us measurable data and technology that can deliver considerable benefits. Here’s what you can achieve:
- Lower patient readmission rates and costs of hospitalization – With data about patients’ visits and treatment, medical care providers can effectively handle and plan follow-ups, post-discharge treatment and cut costs of in-patient treatment.
- Consistent care delivery – Hospitals and clinics gain a full overview of the patient’s interactions with their services, offers and products by integrating online and offline data. Then, they can apply this information to deliver a smooth experience to their customers.
- Enhanced customer satisfaction – Analysis of patient feedback, onsite and in-app behavioral data allows hospitals and clinics to optimize their services. Then, by supplying the information individuals look for, we boost patient satisfaction by enabling them to track and monitor their health without unnecessary trips to healthcare facilities.
- Efficient allocation of costs – Tracking the adoption rate of your digital products or features helps you reshape your services to patients and care providers, ultimately providing optimal allocation of development funds.
- Increased care coordination – Data silos caused by information scattered across different clinic departments, IT infrastructure and systems can cause serious delays, mistakes or other problems potentially troublesome to patients. With proper digitization, you can connect all data collections and master every data element in one place. The next step is to facilitate communication and ensure easy information flow within your organization.
- Improved evaluation of patients’ health needs – By merging different kinds of data on lifestyle, medical history or hospitalization, healthcare institutions can better understand patients and their needs.
To get more information on solving data silos problems involving sensitive data, check out our post:
4 burning questions about onboarding personal data and personally identifiable information (PII) to your analytics platform
How to make it work
Now that we’ve grasped the theory, it’s time for some action. We want to show you in detail some practical use cases of analytics data employed in healthcare personalization. Our focus will be on a patient-facing platform available only for logged-in users, but will also incorporate the possibilities offered by a website, email and even phone.
Why focus our attention there? First, because patient portals are the place where your clients spend the most time and perform the most activities on your platform. That’s why it’s so important to design them to ﬁt your patients’ needs and expectations. Second, because it’s more challenging. These kinds of platforms are ﬁlled with sensitive data and should be handled with extreme care.
So, let’s move on to the key scenarios.
Case #1 Using segments to target people with chronic illnesses and provide them with valuable treatment recommendations
Let’s say you want to improve online care for patients with chronic illnesses, such as 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.
Doing so means you will 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:
- You import the chronic illness data of your patients into Piwik PRO Customer Data Platform 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:…).
- Next, you use the audiences in a personalization campaign. You promote content on customized banners and other placements inside your portal that are relevant to patients with certain health conditions (e.g., personalized care instructions and dietary recommendations for patients who suﬀer from diabetes, or stretches to fix pain management for patients with arthritis).
The result: Your patients are more informed about the nature of their conditions and they take steps to improve treatment outcomes 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 enhance their chronic disease management strategies.
Case #2 Personalized messaging to automate reminders and increase vaccination rates
Let’s say you’re a product manager for a major health insurance company trying to improve the sign-up rate for flu vaccines. You want to minimize all the surrounding medical issues and associated costs for members and for you, the insurer.
It is recommended that everyone over the age of 65 gets the flu shot, as the lack of preventive care can lead to serious complications. Currently, you have over 2 million registered members over the age of 65, but only 20% of them get vaccinated every year.
This leads to numerous health complications, driving up healthcare costs for both your members and your company. Your data shows that of the 2 million members aged 65+, around 500,000 of them regularly log into your online health insurance platform.
What you do in this case is:
- Instead of a generic website banner and a broadcast email sent to all members, you launch a tailored campaign. You import the data into the customer data platform, then use the personalization functionalities to create a pop-up prompting your members to register for the flu vaccine online.
- You personalize the pop-up so everyone over the age of 65 sees it every time they log into your health platform (before and during the flu season). Your messages inform them about protecting their own health and preventing complications.
- For audiences under the age of 65, you display notifications about protecting the health of their relatives and friends.
- In case of users eligible for vaccination who haven’t done it yet, you make phone calls as a last reminder.
- You’re able to monitor your users’ interactions with the campaign. You observe how many of those that were shown the pop-up subsequently signed up for the vaccination program.
The result: Vaccination rates increase from 20% to 26% following the personalization campaign for 500,000 online members ages 65+. You’ve just helped over 30,000 additional people get vaccinated and prevent possible health complications.
In case of patients under 65, the rate grew less dramatically and you need further optimization. Flu-related claims went down, as did phone calls asking for vaccine information, presumably because members were better informed.
All in all, in the process both your patients and your company save on the cost of much more expensive flu symptom treatment. You also gather more precise data that you’ll use to improve the next campaign with more detailed segmentation and better targeting based on what worked so far.
Case #3 Increasing patient engagement via tailored recommendations
You lead a team assigned to a project with the primary objective of increasing patient engagement with your e-health platform. The concrete target is to cut the number of phone calls asking for information that is easily accessible online.
What you do in this case:
With feedback from your customer service department on the most frequently asked questions, you set up the following marketing campaigns:
- A pop-up reminding patients about their yearly checkups. You import the data containing the latest appointment dates into the CDP, where you define audiences and use them to configure the campaign using Tag Manager’s personalization engine.
- A second pop-up reminder about an upcoming visit or video consultation with the physician whenever patients log into the platform.
- Recommendations of other services offered by your hospital or clinic based on patient records and previously consumed content.
The result: Your tailored campaigns result in 30% fewer phone calls, higher engagement with your website and in-app content, and a 20% increase in the number of services being upsold and cross-sold via your platform.
What else you can achieve with analytics in the healthcare
We’ve covered more complex examples of analytics data employed in medical care realms, but the list doesn’t end here.
You can use analytics for enhancing your patients digital journey as well as for:
- Improving usability of patient portals, apps and websites
- Optimizing all digital channels your patients use
- Increasing consumer engagement
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 a signed consent. 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.
A line you shouldn’t cross
Personalization in healthcare is no longer a nice-to-have feature. It has become a strategic imperative for every business operating in this industry.
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 health 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% of respondents claimed they felt uncomfortable with the idea that businesses and organizations know the information required to serve them personalized ads.
The quality of care you offer depends on many factors, but the key ones are knowing and understanding the individuals you serve. With the right technology, you can gain such insights, but it takes a lot of work on the data. We hope this will come smoother more easily after today’s post. But we can’t stress enough the necessity of safe and compliant use of the information you collect. The rest depends on your precise business goals and a pinch of creativity.
We know this is a complex area, so if you have any questions about our article, products, or anything else, feel free to drop us a line. Our experts will be happy to help you out!