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We focused Part 1 of this series on the first two of six steps we follow to achieve personalization goals in healthcare, while adhering to the industry’s complex privacy and compliance standards:

  1. Start with Strategy
  2. Define Audiences and Their Needs

In this second post, we focus on the subsequent steps and rationale for this sequence and process. 

  1. Outline Personalization Options
  2. Develop a Roadmap
  3. Obtain Internal Buy-In
  4. Implement, Measure, and Optimize

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Outline Personalization Options

We completed the first two steps to define why personalization is important to the organization, so next we'll delve into how we create a personalization plan.

This begins with outlining the personalization options available, considering not only the business and audience needs (as defined in our first two steps), but also:

  • The data available to the organization
  • The technologies the organization has today and would need in the future
  • The size and bandwidth of the team

Consider the Data Available to You

Personalization approaches are categorized based on the data used and how that data is obtained.

Implicit personalization uses information gathered about a user based on what they do. It can be broken down further into two subcategories: 

a.    Contextual personalization is based on current data like the page a user is on, IP address, device type, etc. 
b.    Behavioral personalization is based on past actions a user has taken, such as frequenting certain pages, depth of interaction with certain content, previous clicks, etc. 

Explicit personalization uses information that the user has directly offered, such as a custom profile selection for a preferred hospital. Explicit personalization may be a more desirable option for healthcare systems because the healthcare space requires more trust-building with patients and caretakers, who might be hesitant to provide personal information. Being transparent on the site that information users volunteer is being used to personalize content and enhance the experience, is one way to build trust with patients. 

Consider Technologies the Organization Has Today and Needs in the Future

There is a lot that goes into determining which technologies will make the most sense for implementing personalization for a healthcare system. This is a shortlist of the things we explore and consider with our clients when determining their tech stack:

  1. Limitations/gaps between the technology and the goals
  2. Data storage including access to and from other systems
  3. Analytics and tracking capabilities
  4. Ease of use for the team
  5. Price
  6. Effort relative to the size of the client’s team
  7. The existing skills of that team
  8. Partner skills available for implementation and training 

Consider the Size and Bandwidth of the Team 

It's important to note that technologies need to be considered within the bandwidth of the team and the data available. Not considering the team/resource limitations early on will be costly if what is implemented can't be managed. Not thinking about the detail of the data systems in play will greatly increase implementation time. We urge our clients to think about the personalization they want to see in two to three years, mapping out what’s realistic for their team and technology budget over this time period. 

Develop a Roadmap

Keeping in mind the technology gaps we need to fill, we then develop a roadmap. A roadmap should articulate a future personalization vision and settle on a sequence of implementations that considers all resource and technical dependencies. We highly recommend a “crawl-walk-run” approach when it comes to personalization roadmaps, understanding that some implementations are far more complex than others and that it’s best to start with small, manageable implementations. For instance, you may choose to start with one personalized component on the Homepage and optimize/iterate on this component before tackling more. 

Obtain Internal Buy-In

Overall, we recommend over-communicating internally. It’s important not only to identify the concerns that stakeholders or other departments may have but also to address those concerns upfront. For example, getting approval for personalization from the legal team can be difficult, but you’ll have much less trouble if you assure the team that all data will be anonymized to meet HIPAA requirements. 

Implement, Measure, and Optimize

Personalization is an optimization tactic that should be measured and refined over time. At Velir, we create a measurement strategy, which includes a measurement plan and learning agenda that details measurable KPIs in alignment with business and audience goals. The measurement strategy holds all tactical implementations to the same standard in order to continually assess whether or not your personalization is actually effective.  

Following the steps outlined here has help us lead healthcare organizations to success that can be measured effectively. As presented by Andy Gradel at the Healthcare Internet Conference, our client Main Line Health was able to measure and achieve the following:

  • 30.3% of users interacting with homepage content outside the header and footer
  • A 500% increase in homepage interactions
  • A 119% increase in provider profile views
  • A 99% increase in blog post and patient stories consumption

These may not be the exact goals of your healthcare system, but this approach allows you to define and measure your own organization’s goals, whatever they may be. Following these steps will allow you to avoid common pitfalls in the implementation of personalization.  

Are you thinking about implementing personalization for your healthcare organization's website? Reach out to us at [email protected] or tweet @Velir to learn more about how we can help!


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