Corporate Insight recently attended the 2023 Healthcare Internet Conference (HCIC), a premier event for healthcare marketers and strategists to learn about the latest trends and best practices in digital marketing, website design, social media and patient engagement. One of the key themes from the conference was how hospitals and health systems are using digital solutions to attract and retain new patients. The conference showcased the different digital approaches that health systems are using to reach consumers, promote health management and build brand awareness. Below are some of the key takeaways from conference sessions.

Health Systems Unveil New Provider Locator and Appointment Scheduling Tools

Many of the conference sessions focused on new Find a Doctor and appointment scheduling tools on health system’s public sites. Patients should be able to find the right healthcare provider for their needs and schedule appointments conveniently without needing to call an office or doctor. Comprehensive online tools save time, promote preventive care and empower patients to take control of their healthcare journey.

Houston Methodist, in its session, presented on the journey of implementing its new public site tool. The organization aimed to acquire new patients and improve consumer satisfaction by removing friction points in searching and scheduling. The final tool has several new features, including abilities to compare physician availability, to sort by first available, to see times and to schedule online. The Find a Doctor tool’s result page shows availability for both in-person and video, denoted by blue and green colors respectively, rather than requiring users to navigate to the provider profile pages. Houston Methodist saw an immediate 51% increase of appointment volume scheduled online through the Find a Doctor tool. UChicago Medicine and Hackensack Meridian Health also shared similar stories and engagement statistics about their new provider locator and scheduling tools.

A screenshot from Houston Methodist's presentation from the 2023 HCIC
Houston Methodist Presentation
A screenshot showing Houston Methodist's find a doctor tool's results page
Houston Methodist Find a Doctor Tool – Results

Corporate Insight’s recently published a Health System Monitor report looking at 23 organizations’ public site provider search tools. Our report found that best-in-class experiences feature an all-in-one tool with as much provider information and capabilities needed to make a confident choice in care. Tools should provide seamless findability, sufficient provider details, patient reviews and the ability to schedule an appointment online. Notable best practices include:

  • Equip initial search with both simple and advanced options
  • Offer extensive filter and sorting options that are well understood
  • Offer an alternate method to provider search through virtual assistant chatbots

Organizations should offer strategies for users to conduct simple as well as more advanced initial searches, if needed. UCLA Health features quick search options for LGTBQ-champion providers while Scripps Health features past searched providers for returning users. Sutter Health’s advanced search allows users to include additional criteria, such as physician specialties, practice-focus areas or online services offered. Atrium and UCLA Health tools consider both clinical and non-clinical terms with their search fields, accepting “knee surgery” as well as “arthroscopic surgery.”

A screenshot showing UCLA Health's knee surgery search results page
UCLA Health Knee Surgery Search

Health Systems Use “Influencer Marketing” to Attract Patients

With the increasing reliance on digital platforms and social media for information, health systems are adapting to meet consumers where they are—online. Influencer marketing is a way to adapt to these changing trends in communication and engagement. Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that involves collaborating with individuals who have a large and engaged following on social media or other online platforms. These influencers have established credibility and trust with their audience, making them effective at promoting products, services or brands to their followers. This can help health systems build brand awareness and reach a wider audience, establishing themselves as trusted providers of healthcare services.

During a session, Ochsner Health shared its recent success story working with influencers. The organization launched a Healthy State campaign aimed to promote healthy eating and exercise to build a healthier community in Louisiana. Ochsner shared a stat that one in five Americans trust health influences more than medical professionals in their community. To address this, the organization decided to partner with four influencers to get their message out to a broader range of potential patients and drive behavioral changes. These influencers posted about healthy lifestyle choices and local community events. One of the main messages from Ochsner Health is that authenticity is key. Organizations to need to ensure that influencers stay true to their brand, use their voice and make the topic or post relatable. Ochsner Health saw positive results in terms of increased engagement, site traffic and campaign reach, with over 200K users.

A screenshot from Ochsner Health's presentation at HCIC 2023
Ochsner Health Presentation

Corporate Insight recently conducted soon-to-be-released research on Gen Z and social media to gain a better understanding of how younger generations are using these platforms to disseminate health information and make medical decisions. One of the key findings was that Gen Zers find social media content to be easy to understand, interactive and relatable, which was echoed within the Ochsner Health presentation. (CI subscribers will have first-access to these survey results.)

Survey findings from CI's 2024 report on social media use among Gen Z and healthcare
Gen Z Social Media Survey Findings

Our healthcare research team looks forward to seeing how payors and providers continue to improve their digital experiences across web and mobile. Learn more about CI’s health system research services. And for more on the latest trends across the healthcare industry, check out our Insights section.