Value-based care means health care content matters even more.
Marketing Content Strategy

The Importance of a Content-Driven Website in the Age of Value-Based Care

7 Minute Read

The content-driven website is painfully rare in the world of hospitals.

Since going into kidney failure, my father has become a voracious consumer of health care content. It’s one of his great pastimes now, and none of it had anything to do with the three hospitals that helped him make a full recovery.

I’m not going to name names, but despite being award-winning facilities with great reputations in their communities, they’re admittedly weak when it comes to using their website content to provide value for their patients. It’s something that baffles me to this day because when you take a step back, it’s clear that health care is one of the most content-driven industries in existence.

From information needed to recognize symptoms, to explanations of procedures, to post-discharge instructions, content (something most people regard simply as “information”) comes only behind actual clinical procedures as a pillar of modern-day care. With the Internet changing the way patients process and consume content, hospitals have an unprecedented opportunity to make a valuable impact on their patients’ outcomes and experiences through the strategic use of content.

Unfortunately, few are moving on this opportunity.

The Missed Opportunity of Patient Engagement

A Google Think survey revealed that a full 76 percent of patients begin their health care research on hospital websites. This means that hospitals aren’t just missing out on a chance to connect with their patients—they’re actually failing a curious and already engaged population that’s actively looking to them for guidance in navigating challenging situations and complex decision-making processes.

Hospitals have an opportunity to be more. They can use a content-driven website as a tool to leverage existing trust, better align with the Quadruple Aim, and engage their patients and care communities in ways that have been proven to get results.

I stress results here, because—as most of us in health care are entirely too aware—creating value for patients is now a central focus of government initiatives (in the form of value-based care) and is quickly becoming a cultural norm across our vertical.

A nurse pushes a patient in a wheelchair

Image attribution: Sasin Tipchai

From Value-Based Care to Value-Based Content

Getting past conventional ideas of what a website should be can trip up many hospitals. Thankfully, value-based care programs have already provided some guidance in that area.

We’ve discussed it before, but connecting hospital content to value-based care principles isn’t difficult if you follow a few core guidelines:

  • Center on your patients. Hospital websites should prioritize patients.
  • Focus on need. Patients have specific needs. Websites should connect directly with those needs through structured content.
  • Prioritize outcomes. Outcomes matter in clinical and they matter on hospital websites. Your content should engage your patients and facilities should pay attention to engagement-based metrics.
  • Be comprehensive and coordinated. Content on your site should tie directly back to organizational goals.
  • Understand that your site facilitates a transition. Hospital websites don’t exist on their own. They’re a part of a patient experience that is rich with content from beginning to end.

For most facilities, making the step to center content is a true marketing transformation. Most hospital websites, while they do provide useful information for their patients, haven’t incorporated their web-presence as a living, breathing part of patients’ care and content experience.

The Content-Driven Website: Examples

There are many ways that hospitals can implement content-based initiatives, so let’s review some examples from different perspectives.

Leveraging a Specialty: The University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas for Medical Science (UAMS) is regarded as a world leader in research and clinical care related to multiple myeloma and related disorders.

Proper treatment of the disease requires a specialist’s approach, and visitors to the UAMS Myeloma Institute website are immediately presented with a wealth of in-depth content on the basics of the disease, treatment options, research, and other educational materials.

A preview of the UAMS specialty site

Taking Advantage of an Established Brand: The Mayo Clinic

After years of a content-heavy marketing transformation, the Mayo Clinic stands as one of the most widely recognized and well-respected health care brands in the world. They use their website to take advantage of their authority and direct patient energy and curiosity like few other organizations do.

The content highlight of the site is the Patient Care and Health Information area, but the entire site features a strong use of content in the form of articles, case studies, white papers, and even moving stories that illustrate the impact that donors to the clinic have on real-life patients and families.

A look at the Mayo Clinic's patient-centered information center

Blogs That Get to Work

There’s a reason so many brands outside of health care use blogs. They’re one of the most familiar and easily accessible types of content that exists. Some hospitals have caught on to this and maintain compelling blogs of their own.

Boston Children’s Hospital Pediatric Health Blog

This blog is a fun and colorful mix of facts, followup, and questions that their target demographic (parents) struggles with.

An example post from the Boston Children's Hospital blog

Pella Regional Health Center

Hosted by “Healthy Helen,” Pella Regional Health Center has one of the most unique blogs you’ll find in the hospital space. “Helen” is actually the voice of a PR team that covers a wide range of health care topics, spotlights staff, and even tells a cautionary tale or two.

A look at the work of the PR team at Pella Regional

The Brigham and Women’s Hospital Health Blog

This blog is a great example of demographic-focused content. The blogs cover critical health topics and smartly connects with clinical resources that the hospital offers. This post on weight loss that links to their Center for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery is a great example.

The goal of most websites is, of course, to convert—but in health care, that tends to look different. Hospitals need to deliver on trust and open doors to long-term connection, and that’s something that has to be built into the DNA of your content strategy.

The demographic-centered blog from Brigham Women's Hospital

Building a Website That Delivers on Value

The path to a website driven by content is a critical component of any effective marketing transformation, and it’s completely navigable.

It will require not only the help of your internal marketing team but also the input of subject matter experts within your facility or system, and potentially outside vendors as well. Here are some general tips you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re considering your own marketing transformation.

Understand Your Patient Mix

This is just as true for content as it is for clinical. The demographics, conditions, and goals of your care community will influence every content decision you make for your site.

As much as it might be tempting to simply emulate what other facilities are doing in their content world, the topics, media types, and overall strategy one facility uses might not fit with your patients’ needs or your goals. Take the time to outline who your potential readers are and what kinds of content will best keep them engaged and enhance their clinical outcomes.

Leverage Your Specialization

A hospital’s website content should stand out. Your facility has specializations that range from the clinical, to location, to your brand’s tone. Your content should be a vehicle for all those things and a constant reinforcement to your readers of why they should choose you over other care options.

Go Mobile

Keep in mind that your readers aren’t all hunched over desks, contemplating their health care decisions. Health is a 24/7 concern, and in a world where even seniors are using technology at higher rates, the importance of content that matches the lives of your patients can’t be underestimated.

This means providing content that is easily consumable in a mobile format and that also aligns with the needs of users who aren’t tied to one location.

Don’t Forget Outreach

The topics and issues you discuss should be proactive and address your community’s care needs before they realize them. Content can be a powerful tool to draw patients in to take cost-saving action on their health that they may not have been considering.

Keep the Content Flowing

Most importantly, keep talking to your patients.

As with the case of medication adherence, patients need multiple points of contact before they take action on even pressing health needs. This means that, while a strong content foundation matters, a truly content-driven website has to actually move forward and give its visitors a reason to return and entrust you with even more of their health care decisions.

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Featured image attribution: Jesse Orrico

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I'm a freelance business writer with 10 years' experience in healthcare (hospital consulting), over a decade's work in online content creation, and an MBA. I create engaging, informative content on general B2B topics, healthcare B2B, mobile healthcare, dental, and freelancing as a career. I have created content for clients including Samsung, Cintas, and Business Solutions Magazine. While I specialize in healthcare, my education and experience also give me the ability to create interesting and effective content on almost any business topic. I create thought leadership articles, blogs, news stories, case studies, and website content for emerging and established B2B healthcare brands. I have a unique mix of style, industry experience, and education that brings a signature tone and competence to my work. I believe B2B content in healthcare will benefit from a shift in tone...a shift to one that is rooted in the seriousness and formality of the industry, but that still understands the need for humanity and a more editorial feel.

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