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Website Personalization: How Not To Be Creepy

by Sara Foster | Jan 03, 2019

This article was written by Jessica Levco, a healthcare writer who covered HCIC18 for Greystone.Net.

image of people thinking of things to buy

Andy Gradel, former system director of digital marketing at Main Line Health, knows he’s in a tough spot. He’s got five people on his marketing team. He’s competing with big names like Penn Medicine and Jefferson University Hospitals. But even with the pressure and limited resources, that hasn’t stopped him from turning his hospital’s website into something that speaks directly to each person visiting it. 

He’s tapped into the art of website personalization.

At the 22nd Annual Greystone.net Healthcare Internet Conference in Scottsdale, Gradel shared his tips and tricks for walking the fine line of how he’s made the website personal, but not creepy. He was joined by Jenn Blazejewski, chief strategy officer at Velir.

His founding principle is to be helpful — not invasive. And also, to protect patient privacy. From the get-go, any type of EMR data was off-limits. All data that’s tracked remains anonymous. With those foundations in place, he wants to help people find what they need, quicker and stress-free.

First, they needed to define their audience and figure out what they needed. Take a look at their homepage. You’ve got six choices to identify who you are (ranging from patient to researcher) and then, you’ve got eight choices to say what you’d like to do next (from making an appointment to finding parking). When you answer these two questions, your navigation choices are modified.

“If you know someone is looking for treatment, they might get some content that shows them where they can join a support group,” Gradel says. “Or you might show some bariatric information to someone who has been through your bariatric webinar.”

However, Gradel says it’s important to be thoughtful about the type of content you’re showing.

“For example, if someone is searching for breast cancer, but leave our site and come back, we don’t want every single page they see to be about breast cancer when they come back,” Gradel says. “If no one knows we’re doing personalization, we’ve done our job.”

And it looks like the team is doing their job.

Thanks to personalized callouts and role-based navigation options, 30.3% of users interacted with homepage content that was not located in the primary or footer navigation over the past two years. In addition, homepage interactions have increased more than 500%.

Plus, leaders across the hospital seem to be receptive to the project.

“It’s sexier than launching a website,” Gradel says. “We’re doing something cool. For some, it almost seems like sci-fi. Typically, we don’t think about personalization on a hospital website, but it’s everywhere — from Amazon to Netflix.”You can hear this HCIC18 concurrent session, complete with slides, in its entirety with Rewind! Rewind – audio recordings of all concurrent and keynote sessions, synced with the slide decks – is now available. Click here to sign up for Rewind.

  • HealthCare Marketing
  • HealthCare Digital Marketing
  • mainline health
  • Andy Gradel
  • website personalization
  • personalization
  • website redesign

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