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Web Site Redesign Increases Appointments, Leadership Interest

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, March 3, 2010

A successful Web site redesign is not an easy feat to pull off—something Temple University Hospital knows all too well. The process involves extensive (and often frustrating) researching, strategizing, and testing. These tribulations paid off for Temple, which won a platinum award in the direct-to-consumer category at the 2009 HealthLeaders Media Marketing Awards.

Temple felt its previous Web site was outdated in design, content, and functionality. At the start of the redesign process, marketers researched user behavior, analyzed competing sites, and developed best practices.

"In terms of strategic approach, the Internet was viewed as a provider selection channel, not just a communications channel," Temple wrote on their entry submission form. "Both in terms of content and design, the new Web site was developed to emphasize program and physician capabilities, and facilitate online appointment requests."

Hospital marketers also paid special attention to search engine optimization in order to attract prospective patients who search for related content on Google and other search engines. They then worked to fill the site with content.

"In order to connect with prospective patients and showcase the services and expertise provided at Temple University Hospital, the new Web site offers robust content, including streaming videos featuring patient testimonials, doctors in action, and vitual tours of hospital facilities and programs," they wrote. Other updates included a new internal search engine, a News Line with service line-specific news items, and an updated application that allows patients to submit requests for appointments with physicians 24/7."

Temple's meticulous work paid off after the site launched and email appointment requests jumped 20% with no additional marketing. And the results didn't trail off—seven of the following nine months had the highest volume of Web-based appointment requests in the hospital's history.

Soon after the new site launched, Temple began a pay-per-click campaign, which, along with SEO efforts, resulted in a lower cost per new patient appointment than from other marketing efforts, and a very high payer mix.

"The improved look and successful results of the Web site have demonstrated to the Temple University Health System organization the importance of funding Web-based marketing initiatives," marketers wrote. "Medical staff and leadership of all Temple University health System entities are now eager to roll-out their own Web site overhauls."