Real-World Mobile Strategy at Johns Hopkins Medicine

November 1, 2016

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //

After reading marketing automation software company Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Mobile Marketing, we asked Marketo how healthcare organizations compare to other types of organizations when it comes to mobile. Kristen Kaighn, Senior Product Marketing Manager, weighed in. Then we spoke to a digital marketing executive at a major health system to get a reality check.

We asked Marketo two questions:

eHST: Are Health Systems behind when it comes to mobile?

KK: While 90 percent of healthcare providers claim to use mobile devices to engage with patients, only 48 percent of providers say their digital strategy is integrated into their overall corporate strategy. With the majority of digital investments going into patient portals, the most common use of mobile is through app-enabled patient portals for patient engagement. Since healthcare providers are lagging in developing 360-degree views of their patients, informed by the many data sets, offline and online channels and touchpoints, engaging primarily via patient portal is likely resulting in sporadic communications that are disjointed with the patient’s entire journey.

eHST: Can they afford to be?

KK: They cannot afford to be, and only 48 percent of providers say their digital strategy is integrated into their overall corporate strategy, even though a majority of healthcare providers identify lack of funding as the top barrier for the effective use of mobile technology, 62 percent of mobile users search for health information, and 41 percent of patients say social media influenced choosing a healthcare provider. Prospective patients are looking across channels and devices to find information on their health.

Reality Check, with Johns Hopkins Medicine

Johns Hopkins Medicine LogoWe checked in with Johns Hopkins Medicine to find out more about where mobile strategy fits in to a large, complex organization. Our conversation with Aaron Watkins, Senior Director of Internet Strategy, revealed that even a world-renowned healthcare organization faces challenges moving forward on mobile initiatives. “When we look at our satisfaction rates on the site, we do see our mobile visitors are our most satisfied,” says Watkins. “But as we think long term, what will people expect from a transactional standpoint, even just a few years from now? I think we’ve really got to evolve rapidly if we’re going to maintain that high level of satisfaction.” eHST: How has Johns Hopkins Medicine approached its mobile strategy?

Aaron Watkins, Senior Director of Internet Strategy at Johns Hopkins Medicine

Aaron Watkins, Senior Director of Internet Strategy at Johns Hopkins Medicine

AW: is an enterprise website. It’s intended to present a full brand experience for Johns Hopkins Medicine—our clinical, research, and education. We have a lot of core strategic areas that the majority of our traffic is funneling through. About 45 percent of our traffic travels through less than 10 percent of our website. The majority of our strategy in terms of providing the best experience is focused on those sections of the website, and how we can provide people with great information, extend the brand by presenting the physicians and Johns Hopkins as a health information provider, and then additionally for people who are seeking out care, to guide them in their decision-making.

When you look at our mobile strategy specifically, itself is not fully responsive design. We just don’t have the resources to do it. It’s about 65,000 pages in total. More than 50 percent of our traffic comes from some sort of mobile device. The way we’ve approached our mobile strategy is to focus on the most visited sections of the website first.

eHST: What are they?

AW: Primarily it’s our health section, which includes our A to Z library and monthly awareness campaign health information for breast cancer month or other awareness months. Our faculty/physician directory, it’s that core content that both brings people into the site from a search engine optimization perspective, or we’re able to drive through really engaging social content. And they’re looking at a physician and deciding if this is a physician that I really want to come to for care.

With that approach, 80 percent of our visits are being served on mobile-friendly templates, whether those people are on a mobile device or not. And what it leaves is a really long tail of pages that are not mobile friendly. Those equate to about 20 percent of our visits as a whole, although, less than half of those will be happening on a mobile device. And only about 15-20 percent will be happening on something as small as an iPhone or an Android or something like that. We include tablets in our mobile definition.

So it’s been effective given our resources and the scale of what we’re doing. We feel like it provides enough value to the institution. It’s just a high cost to deliver that across that last 20 percent of visits.

eHST: Do you think academic medical centers struggle with this more than other types of healthcare organizations?

AW: Academic medical centers are their own unique animal in terms of how distributed decision-making can be. It’s interesting—we see a lot of big brands that are struggling with the same things, governance across their web enterprise. I think in healthcare we kind of lose sight that people are struggling with a lot of the same things we are.

eHST: Even the systems that seem like they should be ahead are picking their biggest battles and doing them in priority and going with that.

AW: Right. And anytime you are in a web role, you are dealing with the reality of the operations of the organization and the systems that are in place and the people that are in place. We end up kind of on the front lines of sorting out problems. People may be viewing them as a web problem, but it’s really a bigger operational cultural challenge that you need to solve.

eHST: Do you have a formal mobile strategy?

AW: We are really trying to organize around a larger experience. Mobile is a component of that experience. As an example, we focused on building a responsive website. A significant challenge has been reshaping our content so that it can be served effectively, whether it’s written content or imagery. Making sure it’s structured and tagged properly. Early phases have really focused mostly on that approach.

We focus largely on older audiences who are typically either patients or caregivers, and we are effectively serving them. But we’re also looking to extend the brand to millennials in a much more targeted way. We want to become much more transactional and think more about activity on a mobile device and the kinds of interactions that that generation really expects from any company.

It is leading us to deal with more operational issues and to apply that in a mobile environment. So again, I think it’s the larger experience that’s driving the conversation. It’s not a mobile strategy per se, but the mobile component is a major part of that discussion.

When we look at our satisfaction rates on the site, we do see our mobile visitors are our most satisfied, which is really interesting. The majority of people are getting really good-quality information whether it’s written or visual. I think it’s an experience that often exceeds their expectations from an information-gathering standpoint.

But as we think long term, what will people expect from a transactional standpoint, even just a few years from now? I think we’ve really got to evolve rapidly if we’re going to maintain that high level of satisfaction.

eHST: What kinds of transactions are you envisioning?

AW: Definitely appointment making. We’re still a very phone-based system, so a lot of our web strategy is about guiding people to the easiest way for them to make an appointment. Over time I think we’ll need more digital components that allow them to accomplish those same things. That’s definitely one of our biggest opportunities.

eHST: Are you looking over the shoulder of any other organizations that you think are a couple steps ahead?

AW: I know there are people unlike me who are paying more attention within the industry than I am. I tend to look outside this industry. I go to broader conferences and get perspectives there. A few years ago, especially when we were shaping our content strategy, I was really looking inside the industry and we were thinking about how we might differentiate ourselves. But today I am thinking more about the larger experience and how can we impact operations, and how can I win over broader support in the organization. I want to a find a big brand that has similar problems.

eHST: Any brand in particular?

AW: Capital One. The finance companies have to deal with a lot of the same problems we have in healthcare. How they handle data securely, how to create a really unique experience around a topic that people may not discuss freely and openly. People tend to be private about their health and the diseases they have or the care they need. Similarly, people really aren’t comfortable talking about their finances and the debt they have. And then there are the legal and privacy issues. I’m often surprised when I go to conferences and I see various people from Capital One talking about how they’ve worked within the organization to get acceptance with social media, social media strategies, social media monitoring.

There’s also a really unique financial organization targeting millennials right now called the Society for Grownups. They are looking at millennials and saying: Here’s this generation that has greater debt coming into the job market than any generation previously, and how can they help them to live the lives that they want and still think really thoughtfully in planning for the future?

The things I’m seeing going on in finance are especially interesting.

Jane Weber Brubaker is Editor of eHealthcare Strategy & Trends.