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Mini-Case Study: A Website Makeover for Billings Clinic

by Laura Clemons | Jan 20, 2017

There’s more livestock than people who live in Montana (3:1, to be exact).

But even though the state has a tiny population, Billings Clinic wanted to pay more attention to the people visiting its website.

During “Patient Experience and Brand Perception from the Perspective of Your Digital Audience,” Lynne Pinnick, Web Marketing Coordinator, explained how her team made this transformation happen. She was joined by Mike Schneider, EVP and Principal of Greystone and Rob Klein, Founder & CEO of Klein & Partners.

But the changes to the hospital’s website didn’t happen overnight. It happened over a lot of nights.

“We had three different marketing directors within a five-year period,” Pinnick says. “But when we hired a former lobbyist to be our marketing director, that’s when everything changed.”

Schneider echoed that point.

“Their lobbyist was really key to making sure the leadership understood why having a new hospital website was so important,” Schneider says.

In addition, the former lobbyist nabbed funding for its e-health strategy (such as the employee and consumer portal) and later, they were able to get money for the website re-design. They also included 40 key leaders in different departments to help the process along.

To build the website, Billings Clinic hired a third party vendor (Greystone) and a healthcare content firm (Geonetric).

Having outside experts really helped us sell the re-design,” Pinnick says.

Schneider said what really helped “sell” the C-suite was having a vision.

“The vision needs to drive the whole project,” Schneider says. “What are you trying to accomplish in your organization? Sure, you could just say you want to ‘be more digital,’ but digital is just one tool. You’ve got to start with your vision and goals; figure out where your organization is; and then, do strategy and tactics.”

First, the team did a lot of research to get started. Here’s a look at what they did:

  1. Internal interviews with senior leadership and physicians
  2. Web site evaluation by the consumer and employee team
  3. Evaluation of best practice websites
  4. Online survey on our public and employee websites

The team also had a list of goals it wanted to achieve with the new website. Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Be “the primary resource” for health care information, education and services in the region
  2. Drive business to Billings Clinic services and physicians
  3. Position Billings Clinic as an organization that strives for convenience and access
  4. Be easily accessible to all users from any device
  5. Position Billings Clinic as the employer of choice in the region

Next, the team surveyed patients to find out what they wanted on the new site. Some of the requests included: More social media, maps, a place for patient/family feedback and the ability to schedule online appointments.

“These goals matched up to what Billings Clinic wanted to do,” Klein says. “There was harmony. Your website has a big impact on how people feel about your brand. You can’t forget that.”

Pinnick says the work on the website isn’t 100 percent over and the team continues to add more features, piece-by-piece.

“It’s a journey, not a destination,” Pinnick says. “We still want to do online scheduling, responsive job postings and content. In addition, we really want to make sure that patient feedback is part of our annual Internet investment.”

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