Empowering Patients with Customized Portals: A New Level of Personalized Healthcare
If you had acute shoulder pain or heaviness in your chest, would you seek medical advice from a doctor or from an anonymous person on the internet?
Hospitals, providers and other healthcare organizations are banking that you’d choose the former and get advice from a qualified medical professional.
But with countless websites distilling health information online, it can be difficult to know where to turn for accurate, peer-reviewed, medically researched facts. And more and more consumers are going online to get health advice. Sixty-two percent of consumers searched for information online about prescription drugs, 58 percent searched online to diagnose themselves based on their symptoms and 52 percent did an online search to find treatment options, according to Rock Health consumer survey data.
Consumers are going digital, which means physicians, hospitals, and healthcare providers must align their messaging and delivery methods to provide patients accurate and timely information in an instant and at their convenience.
“There is an accepted fact that healthcare companies are digital laggards for a variety of reasons — including the regulatory environment in which they operate. They haven’t had to change until consumers started to demand digital engagement,” says Tom Swanson, head of healthcare industry strategy at Adobe.
But many healthcare organizations are beginning to adapt. To fill consumers’ need for digital health information, organizations are launching customized healthcare portals. Within these patient-centered portals, healthcare companies use analytics tools to gather information on their members and offer targeted content that aligns with their interests.
For example, when a customer logs in, their portal will show relevant information around weight loss or pregnancy — all without ever touching protected health information (PHI). Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health are among some of the health systems leveraging this approach. Traditional marketing channels have lost effectiveness, so these companies are using content to reach and educate the public, facilitate interactions between providers and patients, and build their brand authority and consumer trust. They’re skillfully navigating healthcare’s digital transformation, while also providing an invaluable service that will improve public health.
Increased demand for customized portals
Consumer demand for customized portals is upending many industries, from marketing and advertising to healthcare.
“Many people are getting more and more comfortable providing their information in a way that could be helpful to their own personal care, or perhaps the personal care of someone else they’re taking care of,” says Rahki Patel, a senior product marketing manager at Adobe.
Consumers are becoming more open to using online platforms and new tools to interact with providers and are more willing to share data if it drives value or benefit for them. In fact, eighty-three percent are willing to share data if it helps with treatment and
73 percent are willing to share data if it helps to diagnose and treat others, especially loved ones.
But healthcare companies have a unique challenge because their industry is so heavily regulated. They must strike a delicate balance between information sharing and privacy, especially because of HIPAA concerns.
That’s where customized healthcare portals are so beneficial, because they don’t rely on PHI or individually identifiable health information — but rather information based on authenticated user behavioral data from a website or data a consumer who has visited the platform has willingly provided.
Customized healthcare portals at work
Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health have expanded their digital footprint to foster better connections with patients.
“Health and education systems are investing in their digital presence to deal with dramatic changes in the industry,” says Neil Gomes, vice president of technology innovation and consumer experience at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health. “Many are turning to niche platforms developed for their industries, but they can all look the same. With our mission, one of our focus areas is to differentiate ourselves from other organizations. Instead of just looking at what’s being done in healthcare or education, we also see the value in learning from other industries like retail, hospitality, and travel to give our customers entirely new experiences when seeking out healthcare, education and research information.”
To accomplish this, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health launched an effort to consolidate all of their 16,000 pages of content and 6,000 assets onto a single platform to help the organization efficiently create content and communicate updates to patients. Leveraging analytics from users’ on-site behavior, including pages they visited and their searches, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health has been able to enhance users’ digital experience, and plans to provide targeted recommendations based on the information users have accessed on the site. For example, if a patient searches for information about a particular disease or condition, using targeting technology, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health can add links or content about that particular disease to other pages the person may navigate to on the site.
Capitalizing on these digital strategies helps the organization better serve the nearly three million people who visit its health network every year, and allows Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health to empower patients to be better advocates for their own health and to access health information on a secure website from a trusted source.
Creating user-friendly custom portals
For customized healthcare portals to effectively increase patient engagement and improve the patient-provider relationship, they must be intuitive and easy to use. Healthcare companies also must balance how they leverage user data to provide customized experiences while still being within the bounds of user privacy and regulatory requirements. Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health are doing this by leveraging platforms that are customized to their unique business needs and that are built with privacy by design as a key consideration, providing added assurance that all the data ingested into these portals is compliant.
Rahki says even with all these compliance considerations, healthcare organizations that want to remain viable in the marketplace must find a way to deliver customized experiences while safeguarding patient data and privacy. Customized healthcare portals are one of the best ways they can achieve both these aims and “articulate the value of digital transformation in a way that can drive their business forward.”
“A lot of customers and patients are more comfortable doing things like connecting with their doctor online and being able to get their information quickly — in fact they almost crave this,” Rahki says. “Many healthcare companies really need to start keeping up with their patients and what their patients now require, and start to innovate accordingly.”