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Growing eHealth Segment Creates Opportunities for Marketers

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, December 1, 2010

The Internet might create cyberchondriacs, but it can also help healthcare marketers target key patients and track campaign ROI.

Making your organization's website a health resource will only become more critical in the next few years, as e-health expands. About 168 million U.S. adults have gone online for health information in 2010, up from 99 million in 2005 and 63 million in 2002, according to Manhattan Research's latest "Cybercitizen Health" report. Interestingly, it's older consumers who are driving this trend, with those 55 years old and older showing the strongest e-health growth in recent years. Consumers over age 65 going online for health actually doubled between 2006 and 2010.

The Chester County Hospital (TCCH) targeted the e-health consumer when it created an online cardiac risk assessment tool earlier this year, which I wrote about in my May column "Campaign Microsites No Longer Optional."

Since the tool and subsequent marketing campaign launched, more than 11,000 people have visited the site, 2,850 took the test, 674 submitted results, 218 signed up for an e-newsletter and opted-in for email marketing, 157 requested a consult with a cardiac nurse navigator, and 41 scheduled appointments with TCCH cardiologists.

And while a relatively small percentage of website visitors actually came into the hospital, the tool resulted a $5,000 contribution margin between March 10 ? August 24 and likely much more in downstream revenue.

The people who took TCCH's online cardiac risk assessment test represent an especially valuable segment of Internet users that Manhattan Research calls e-empowered consumers—those who contact a doctor as a result of information or tools they find online. According to the "Cybercitizen Health" report, 99 million U.S. adults are e-empowered consumers.

These findings represent a real opportunity in the healthcare market to target high-value patients online and drive them to your organization's key service lines. Even if you don't have the resources to launch an online risk assessment tool, you can populate your website with useful information, review your search engine optimization, and look into gaining traction online in other ways, such as creating a physician blog. (Seattle Children's Hospital's Seattle Mama Doc blog, which was the Campaign Spotlight in last week's e-newsletter, is a great example of an engaging and informative hospital blog.)

By keeping on top of the e-health trend your organization can better engage patients—even the cyberchondriacs.

Editor's note: Colleen Leyden, The Chester County Hospital's director of corporate marketing and public relations will discuss more details about the online tool and the strategy behind it during HealthLeaders Media's December 13 webcast "Tactics to Measure Financial ROI for Marketing Efforts."

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