home banner


Jul 2009

49 Percent of Patients Use Internet for Medical Information

New numbers are out that illustrate the ways that patients are using the Internet to find medical information.

Source: E-marketer.com

Click on chart to see larger image.

Topping the report were the 49 percent of patients that looked online to learn about “a specific disease or medical problem.”

Nearly every hospital has a Website, so the desire to harness this massive segment of the online community is an obvious goal for every healthcare marketer and Webmaster—one that is best achieved via SEO and PPC.

What’s not so obvious is how to do this.

After all, only an elite number of Websites are going to get the best ranking for “symptoms of [common condition]” or “how to treat [common condition]”. You can take your chances in PPC, but you better bring your pocketbook, as keyword bids for these types of phrases are likely to be highly competitive and modified on a daily (if not hourly) basis by professional, dedicated PPC campaign managers.

Think Outside of the Box Condition

If you can’t top the search engine results pages (SERPs) with the easy or obvious keywords, consider using keywords that are less competitive. This is where excellent keyword research analysis is needed.

For example, instead of optimizing for phrases like “how to treat [insert common condition]” for which hundreds are competing, perhaps target your SEO and PPC campaigns for the treatments used to treat that condition. Those could include names of procedures or even specialized equipment that your hospitals owns and uses. For example, instead of (or in addition to) writing SEO and PPC content for “how to treat a broken arm,” develop content that relates to keywords about casts.

Also, try to develop as many related content pages as you can. Using the broken arm and cast example, perhaps develop a page about X-rays or broken arm prevention. Not only do you increase the chance of being found on a SERP, but you can improve your rankings because SEs are known to reward more robust and frequently expanded Websites, especially if pages are linked with relative anchor text.

Remember, the goal of your hospital’s site is primarily to drive conversions (e.g., request more information, schedule an appointment, sign-up for a newsletter), not to function as a free online medical library. Although you should always strive to provide useful and current information, your greater goal should be to be discoverable.

With this strategy, once you can get a visitor into your site, then you can hopefully direct them to pages that would normally have a more competitive keyword.

Does your hospital’s Website have optimized content or an experienced SEO partner? AVID Design offers free SEO Website assessments.

Derek Rudnak | Communications Specialist | AVID Design

Leave a Comment


Apr 2009

Poll Results: Social Media Too Risky for Hospitals and Healthcare

Although we weren’t expecting these results, but we can certainly understand why voters voted the way they did.

Although we weren’t expecting these results, but we can certainly understand why voters voted the way they did.

Last month, we ran a poll that asked voters to suggest why they thought hospital leadership might discourage social media marketing.

Despite our initial presumption—that it is too complicated to organize multiple departments—voters were clear in their decision: 54 percent said that Web 2.0 is too much of a legal or information risk.

Why We Chose “Too Complicated to Organize Departments”

Our perspective is largely based on the fact that we are brought into projects once there is a desire to move forward with something like a new or overhauled Web site—in other words, after other issues have been addressed or resolved.

Furthermore, we’ve been on a number of Web steering committees, and more often than not, the most complicated part of the process is getting departments to work towards a common goal. Of course, we’ve been very successful in helping coordinate teams and working with them to produce effective and attractive Web sites.

We certainly don’t want to suggest that there are departments that are refuseniks. Instead, we recognize that—like at most any company or in any department—people are very busy and have limited time, staff and resources to commit to new, major projects.

Why Voters Chose “Legal or Information Risks”

Again, in our experience with helping healthcare clients develop and deploy new content, we’ve seen two things that would support this choice:

• The vetting process is too slow.
• Content can’t be created by committee.

With a Website, the content is usually carefully planned, created and most importantly, approved by a select group of people—most of whom are managers, executives and stakeholders.

Once approved and published, this content—or new content, especially when published quickly and easily with a custom CMS, such as what AVID Design offers—is likely to stay put for a while and isn’t changed until it’s gone through the same planning/creation/approval process.

Social media, on the other hand, is all about immediacy…which requires a lot of trust since an effective Web 2.0 campaign cannot be restricted with lengthy approval processes.

In particular, this includes responding to criticism or negative statements made, for example, on Twitter. However, as we’ve written elsewhere, an active Web 2.0 presence can do wonders for a hospital or any type of organization—including tackling criticisms and complaints head-on in the social networking environment.

We touch on these issues and more in our recent newsletter’s feature story, “Budget, Staff and Support: A Trifecta of Challenges Faced by Hospital Marketers.”

Derek Rudnak | Communications Specialist | AVID Design

One comment


Mar 2009

Web 2.0 Hospital Marketing Polls: Analysis

Earlier this month, we published two Reed Smith polls: one about what marketing techniques hospitals will use in 2009, and another about what social media platforms for hospitals are most recommended.

Although the results were mostly as expected, they did reveal some compelling notions.

Poll #1: Marketing Techniques

Poll #1: A whopping 96 percent of voters want to use some type of social media in 2009.

Poll #1: A whopping 96 percent of voters want to use some type of social media in 2009.

Collectively, 79 percent of the respondents are actively using or looking to integrate some level of Web 2.0 into their marketing strategy.

That didn’t come as a complete surprise since many of our clients also have expressed similar intentions, but also because this was a Twitter-based poll…which means that voters were potentially skewed towards Web 2.0 since they are already Twitter users and are aware of its possibilities.

However, it was the 17 percent that said, “I would like to try SM, but hospital leaders said no” that was most fascinating. This is for two reasons:

• Add them to the 79 percent that are going to do some type of social media marketing, and that totals an impressive 96 percent of voters that want to use social media.

• Other than economic concepts like diminished marginal utility, social media platforms are usually free to use, so money isn’t a factor for leaders discouraging their use. What might be their reasons? Cast your vote on our new poll!

Poll #2: Recommended Social Media Platforms

Poll #2: It was not a surprise that blogs were the top choice for the most recommended social media.

Poll #2: It was not a surprise that blogs were the top choice for the most recommended social media.

Almost half of the voters (48 percent) recommended blogs. As we wrote previously, we fully agree that blogs should be a priority for social media.

Although the equal and popular support (14 percent each) for microblogs and social networks wasn’t a surprise, it wasn’t expected that more (19 percent) would recommend video.

Video certainly has significant benefits on a Website, but compared to microblogging and social networks—at least in the “if you have to choose just one” context of this poll—it simply doesn’t offer the efficiency, frequency, affordability and perhaps most importantly, the social component that make the others so unique.

As always, your opinions and feedback are encouraged!

Derek Rudnak | Communications Specialist | AVID Design

One comment


Mar 2009

Poll Results: Social Media Platforms for Hospitals

Last week, we published a Reed Smith poll about hospitals’ usage of Web 2.0 marketing tools in 2009. This week, he is running another interesting poll that answers a question we pondered last week: What Web 2.0 platform is most recommended for hospitals?

Like last week’s poll, the results are changing too quickly to offer an immediate analysis. However, we will certainly return to both polls soon to offer our take on the on results.

My Vote: Blogs

You might disagree—and you are certainly encouraged to share your thoughts—but I believe that blogging is priority number one in a Web 2.0 strategy.

Especially for hospitals, the concept of transparency and community are critical, and blogs like Paul Levy’s Running a Hospital and the Mayo Clinic’s Sharing Mayo Clinic do an excellent job of accomplishing that…and more.

Along with their blogs’ content, their blogsites also function as one-stop resources for other Web 2.0 platforms (which are also choice options in the poll) and useful, relevant links.

Derek Rudnak | Communications Specialist | AVID Design

Leave a Comment


Mar 2009

The Caduceus: Origins and Meanings

The caduceus is a globally recognized icon of medicine and healthcare.

The caduceus is a globally recognized icon of medicine and healthcare.

Although not everybody knows its name or how to pronounce it, most everybody can recognize the caduceus—that ubiquitous medical icon with the two snakes wrapping around a winged rod. (By the way, it’s pronounced “kah-DOO-shuss.”)

The caduceus is possibly one of the most ironic symbols ever invented—or more specifically, ever used. Although in modern times it is thought to represent compassion, life, science and other tenets of medicine and healthcare, the historic origins of its meanings present another story.

The Caduceus in Modern Times

The U.S. Army is often credited with making the caduceus the recognizable icon it is today. In 1902, the Army’s Medical Corps first started using it to recognize military physicians.

Prior to 1902, the caduceus’ history becomes a bit more uncertain. Although the caduceus had been used in general publishing in the 16th and 17th century, it wasn’t until the 19th century when it first appeared on a medical text. The reasons for either usage are firmly related to mythological symbolism.

The Caduceus: Echoes of Mythology

Printers in the 16th and 17th century related to the caduceus because of its connection to Hermes, the Greek messenger God. However, Hermes’ symbolic ties to medicine date back to the seventh century when scientists connected him to a then emerging interest in alchemy.

However, in mythology, Hermes is more often associated with two concepts that aren’t usually aren’t associated with modern medicine: magic and death. In mythology, Hermes would lead the dead to the underworld—precisely the opposite of what physicians try to do to their patients!

Asclepius: Snakes and Rods and the Caduceus

The rod of Asclepius is actually more symbolically relevant to medicine and healthcare than the caduceus.

The rod of Asclepius is actually more symbolically relevant to medicine and healthcare than the caduceus.

So, how did Hermes become associated with the snakes, rod and wings that make a caduceus? Again, the answer can be found in Greek mythology—this time with Asclepius, a Greek god of medicine.

The rod of Asclepius, which is also used by medical associations, features a single snake wrapped around a cypress branch. The snake represents rebirth; the branch represents strength.

It is thought that the rod of Asclepius evolved into the caduceus, inspired by Hermes’ seventh-century connection to alchemy. Although there isn’t much consensus about the meaning of the second snake, most agree that the winged rod (which replaced the branch) symbolized magic—yet another bizarre concept that has little relevance with modern medicine!

Derek Rudnak | Communications Specialist | AVID Design