A global educational resource for e-business and Internet marketing strategies
The Health and Health Care
 e-Business North American Tour
Phase 1:
The Foundation Phase

Phase 2:
The Exploitation Phase

Phase 3:
The Innovation Phase

Phase 4:
The Business Extension Phase

Phase 5:
The Strategic Transformation Phase

AlexDrossos.com
A thorough resource for the use of technology in health and health care

TomVassos.com
A practical global resource for industry specific e-business strategies

UofEbusiness.com
A global educational resource for e-business and Internet marketing strategies

e-Business World Tours
Examples of the e-Business Roadmap applied across several industry sectors

Phase 3: The Innovation Phase

The Innovation Phase

15. The Community Stage

The Internet has the power to bring people with common interests and needs together from around the world. Companies can help to build these communities of interest by taking several approaches:

  • Create chat rooms on your web site to enable discussions between your clients or channel partners
  • Create events in a chat room environment on your web site where your experts can meet, mingle and educate your employees, prospects, customers and channel partners in an open communications environment an open forum
  • Create e-mail discussion groups through which your various stakeholders can communicate with each other

The objective of building these communities could be to build your brand image in the marketplace and to improve your top of mind awareness with clients. This could result in greater sales in the future. This stage tends to be fairly time consuming to implement and it does not tend to generate immediate returns on your investment. Therefore, for most companies, it may make sense to implement the Community Stage much later, focusing instead on stages that generate a quicker ROI.

Examples of community building in the Health and Health Care industry include the following:

  • At the National Collegiate EMS Foundation web site, they have forms to register for numerous e-mail discussion groups.
  • At the About Women's Health web site, a chat room is available to discuss women's health issues. They even have times to chat about specific women's health topics such as menopause and Pap smears.

16. The Outbound Stage

The problem with most Web marketing strategies is that they are what I refer to as an Inbound strategy. They are a bunch of pages sitting there waiting for somebody to find them. The Outbound Stage turns this model around, focusing on tactics that enable you to proactively reach out to prospects and customers rather than waiting for them to come to you. For example:

  • E-mail or fax mail which is proactively sent to clients with their permission of course (or even snail mail or catalogues in the real world)
    • Newsletters and e-zines
    • Notification services such as an e-mail message every Wednesday from an airline telling me about discount fares for that Friday and Saturday
    • E-mail reminder  services such as birthday and anniversary reminders
    • Customized e-mail services such as a real estate service that automatically sends you an e-mail message every time a home is listed that matches your buying criteria
  • Push Internet technologies that automatically distribute content to the user's desktop

There are several examples of Outbound strategies in action in the Health and Health Care industry. One such example is from HIMSS which sends out an e-News e-mail message every week or two. A sample portion of the e-mail is listed in the table below.
 

Welcome to HIMSS E-News, bringing you up-to-the-minute information about HIMSS and the industry.
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1. Advocacy members take the hill again
2. Hackers target healthcare payors
3. Legislation proposes Medicare coverage of telemedicine
4. Engineering processes found to be a good fit for healthcare

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For information on sponsoring this e-newsletter or other HIMSS publications, contact Jan Ryon at 913-681-9025 or jryon@atwood.com.
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1. Advocacy members take the hill again

Members of HIMSS' advocacy team recently visited Capitol Hill to discuss H.R. 4889, the Patient Safety Improvement Act introduced by Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT), and other current legislation important to the healthcare information and management systems industry. Erin Coyle Strawn, appropriations associate for Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA), Eva Cargill, senior legislative assistant for Rep. Robert Wexler of (D-FL) Florida, and Susan Christensen, senior healthcare legislative assistant for Rep. Nancy Johnson were among those visited. Christensen noted that the prescription drug bill was the number one priority for June (it passed the House on June 27th) and that H.R. 4889 would be a top priority for July. In addition to creating a system for voluntary and confidential reporting of medical errors and adverse events, H.R. 4889 lays the groundwork for a national health information infrastructure. HIMSS advocacy members will be working with these key legislators to provide input to this important bill. For more information on HIMSS advocacy efforts, read the July edition of "A View from the Hill" at http://www.himss.org/content/files/viewfromthehill/2002/july02.pdf.
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2. Hackers target healthcare payors

According to a new report by data security vendor Riptech Inc., healthcare organizations were attacked by hackers an average of 667 times in the first half of the year and businesses in general experienced nearly 30 percent more hacker attacks this year than last. Healthcare organizations are even more vulnerable to attack because many have been waiting for HIPAA's final security rule before deciding whether to spend money on new security protections. Until the rules are finalized, simple and relatively inexpensive solutions include installing firewalls and intrusion detection systems to keep out hackers. If there's any good news in all of this, at least for patients, it's that most attacks on healthcare organizations are aimed at insurers. So far, the hackers seem more interested in defrauding payors than in peeking at patients' private records.
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3. Legislation proposes Medicare coverage of telemedicine

For years, proponents of telemedicine have been trying to get Medicare reimbursement for remote patient care, but with limited success. Now, several members of Congress are pushing legislation that will greatly expand the number of teleservices Medicare will cover. At least four bills, two each in the House and Senate, are expected to come up for consideration this fall. The bills are being sponsored by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Reps. Richard Burr (R-NC) and Doug Ose (R-CA). Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) is expected to announce his own bill later this month. Boosting reimbursement is widely considered to be the key to making telemedicine more commonly available. Under current law, Medicare does not pay physicians for most types of remote monitoring. Capitol insiders say a compromise version of the bills could be attached to the Medicare prescription drug law, which Congress will consider in the fall session.
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4. Engineering processes found to be a good fit for healthcare

A growing trend in healthcare, "idealized design of clinical office practices" is a virtual movement embraced by hundreds of physicians across the country. Its aim is to transform clinical care by adopting some of the process engineering tools of other industries. The concept was developed by the Boston-based Institute for Health Care Improvement. About five percent of US medical practices use some aspect of the idealized design concept. Its hallmarks are relatively simple: making scheduling more efficient by predicting patient demand; using e-mail and other alternative methods to interact with patients; and building computer-based registries that monitor patient treatment and status. One of the chief components is the computerized registry, a data warehouse of clinical and claims information. Most include protocols that identify patients who fall into high-risk categories such as diabetes or heart disease. A nurse case manager can use the registry to make sure patients are taking their medications, getting the tests they need, and generally following their treatment plan.
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For the latest industry news, listen to HIMSS NewsBreak broadcast at http://www.himss.org/ASP/newsbreak.asp.

Look to HIMSS E-News for news, conferences, and informational resources in the healthcare and information management industry.

For more information on upcoming events, visit http://www.himss.org/ASP/index.asp.

17. The Viral Marketing Stage

In the real world, companies rely on Word of Mouth to help spread the word about their offerings. In fact, a study by O'Reilly and Trish revealed that "direct contact with peers and colleagues" was the number one source of information that was used to make future purchase decisions. To capitalize on this, some companies even offer people money if they refer a friend and it results in a sale.

Viral Marketing involves the use of e-mail and the Web to capitalize on the power of the Internet to spread the word about any topic rapidly and exponentially around the globe. More powerful than Word of Mouth in the real world becomes Word of e-Mail or Word of Web.

But different than the real world, these techniques are not simply of a commercial nature. There must be something of value that makes it worth a person's while to forward it to someone else. This could be in the form of a free giveaway, a funny video clip, an animation, a free game or a free screen saver.

You must then somehow transition from the distribution of this free gift or clip into a benefit to your company. This could be in the form of exposure that will improve your brand or in the form of traffic that is generated to your web site.

Examples of e-mail viral marketing tactics (i.e., word of e-mail) include forward to a friend options that are appearing on many web pages and the proliferation of free greeting card services. An example of a web viral marketing strategy (i.e., word of Web) would be the syndication of your web content to hundreds of other web sites, exponentially increasing your exposure. 

In the Health and Health Care industry, a simple example of a viral marketing strategy was found at the Kids Health web site which allows users to e-mail pages to a friend.

18. The Personalization Stage

The panacea of one-on-one marketing in the real world (as opposed to mass marketing) has been an elusive goal.  The costs incurred in the real world make it difficult to achieve a return on investment. The Internet however, provides an ideal infrastructure for building cost effective one-on-one relationships.

The Personalization Stage involves the customization of web pages for individual stakeholders such as customers, prospects, employees and channel partners. Rather than having one identical web page that is read by thousands of people, you can create thousands of web pages, each customized to meet the needs of an individual person. Personalized pages could be created on the public Web for your prospects and customers, on your extranet for your large customers or channel partners, or on your intranet for your employees.

These personalized pages may be much more useful to your stakeholders because they contain information that is directly relevant to them, but they purposefully omit information that is not relevant to them. This could allow you to more effectively meet your sales, marketing, branding, customer support, employee support and communications objectives.

Personalized web pages can be created in a number of different ways:

  • By getting users to register and complete a profile of their interests
  • By getting users to register and then linking them to the live content that directly relates to them on your back end systems (e.g., customer account information, etc.)
  • By using cookies to monitor actual user click-throughs and page views in order to surmise potential interest areas
  • By using a user log in process to monitor actual user click-throughs and page views in order to surmise potential interest areas
  • By mining all the knowledge that you may already have about this user from past transactions and purchases in order to surmise potential interest areas

In the Health and Health Care industry, an example of an extensive personalization strategy was found at Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada web site. This web site allows you to register as a user. It then asks you a number of questions related to the type of content you want to view. Furthermore during every logged in visit to the web site, if you see an article you like, you have the option of adding a link to it from your personalized page.

19. The Knowledge Management Stage

The Knowledge Management Stage involves the leveraging of information that the company already possesses, but may not explicitly know about. This could include the use of data mining techniques to search for buying patterns, and then using that knowledge to improve the company's marketing strategy. It could also incorporate a dynamic analysis of customer buying patterns to immediately make targeted purchase suggestions.

A good example of effective knowledge management can be found at the CDNow web site. When a customer selects a CD for purchase, the site can instantly make knowledgeable recommendations about other CDs that this person is likely to enjoy.

This objective could be achieved by analyzing past purchases from all customers and spotting purchase trends, or, it could be achieved by categorizing all of the music by its inherent characteristics and recommending very similar music to the customer.

Safeway in the UK implemented a powerful knowledge management strategy. They gave users a Palm device that they could use to place their orders for groceries. Rather than having to type in their entire list from scratch though, Safeway used their loyalty card database to automatically build the initial shopping list for the customer. Since the database contained years of purchases from that actual customer, it was a great start for building each customer's initial shopping list.

In the Health and Health Care industry, a simple example of a knowledge management strategy was found at HealthRecordsOnline.com

20. The Targeted Traffic Generation Stage

The objective of the Targeted Traffic Generation Stage is to increase the number of qualified visitors to your web site and to improve the stickiness of your site (the length of time users spend there). Notice the use of the words "targeted" and "qualified". Rather than just generating Web traffic, the focus is on attracting the target market that is most likely to buy from you or help you achieve your other e-business objectives.

Generating traffic to your web site involves getting what I call Webwired:

  • Getting listed in various search engines and directories
  • Improving your search engine rankings
  • Getting links on other web sites via reciprocal links, banner exchanges, banner ads, cool lists (i.e., lists of cool web sites) and jump station sites (i.e., lists of web sites in a specific category)
  • Making your links visible by participating in e-mail and Usenet discussion groups

By conducting several searches on Yahoo! and Google it quickly became apparent which vendors in this industry are doing a good job of getting visibility (at least at the time that these searches were originally conducted). This should result in high levels of web site traffic for these companies. For example:

Google Sponsored Links

Generating traffic to your web site also involves getting what I call Realwired:

  • Placing your web address on your letterhead, business cards, ads, brochures, invoices, annual reports, trucks, office buildings, etc.
  • Getting employees to mention your web address on their voicemail greetings
  • Mentioning your web site address and providing customers with a functional tour while they are on hold

In the Health and Health Care industry, here are some examples of companies that are getting Realwired:

There are also several different tactics that you can use to increase your targeted web site traffic, especially in a B2B (Business to Business) environment:

  • Hold training sessions for your customers, employees and channel partners
  • Get your call centre staff to be able to step the customer through your web site for specific queries
  • Give your customers or channel partners special incentives for all transactions that they transact via the Web
  • Place specific web addresses right on your actual product so that customers will instantly know where to go to order replacement parts, supplies, or even order an entire new unit

Various approaches can also be taken to improve the stickiness of your site. In the past, GM had a contest on their web site that rewarded users that spent the most time there. Visitors were provided with a trip-o-meter at the web site that kept track of the number of GM web pages that they visited and the length of time that was spent there. The higher their trip-o-meter reading, the more chance they had of winning a special prize. 

Another approach that can be used to increase stickiness and help you to further meet your e-business objectives is referred to as circular linking. This simply means that you think of your web site as having no end to it. An error that many webmasters make is to think of their web site as a series of pages that help to achieve a specific task, at which time the task is completed and so is the visit. 

For example, at the end of many e-commerce transactions, the visitor is informed of the likely delivery time, thanked for their order, and then in effect, not given any other options (other than simply a navigation bar). In other words, the final e-commerce transaction screen says "thanks for your order and we hope to see you back again soon." This is basically telling the visitor that it is now time to leave. 

Rather than taking this approach, the end of the e-commerce transaction should naturally lead to another task. Now that the purchase is complete, you could ask the visitor if they would like to subscribe to your weekly newsletter. And once that is complete, you may then want to ask them if they would be willing to tell a friend about their purchase or the newsletter. And after that, you may want to ask them if they would be willing to become your channel partner. In other words, at the end of every transaction is a link to the next logical transaction. 

By using circular linking, a visit to your web site becomes more like a being on a bus ride that never stops. It only slows down a little at certain bus stops. And the bus driver never yells out the name of the stop, users have to consciously decide to end the trip, and jump off when they're ready. 

In the Health and Health Care industry, some companies have taken an interesting approach to try to increase the traffic to their site. For example, the Oxygen.com Health web site has quizzes, information, chat rooms, a newsletter and even an area where you can log your weight to monitor changes. If that's not enough to keep you around, the parent web site, Oxygen.com, also has other sections on Career, Family & Pregnancy, Lifestyle, Relationships & Sex, and Self-discovery.

In this industry, some companies have also taken an interesting approach to try to increase the stickiness of their site. For example, the Internet Healthcare Strategies web site has an article posted on how Health and Health Care web sites can improve the stickiness of their site. Of course, they charge $6.95 US for a copy of the article if you're not already a member!

21. The Customer Relationship Stage

The Customer Relationship Stage involves taking steps to convert casual Web visitors into registered customers not necessarily to the point of actually buying something, but even just registering for something that might be a precursor to them buying something in the future.

After a sale is made, this stage involves managing those customer relationships (CRM, or customer relationship management) and building long term sales and profits. This involves a focus on determining which customer can deliver long term profitability.

Click here to continue to the next phase (Phase 4).
 

Phase 1:
The Foundations Phase

Phase 2:
The Exploitation Phase

Phase 3:
The Innovation Phase

Phase 4:
The Business Extension Phase

Phase 5:
The Strategic Transformation Phase

TomVassos.com
A practical global resource for industry specific e-business strategies

UofEbusiness.com
A global educational resource for e-business and Internet marketing strategies


The co-authors of this report are Alex Drossos and Tom Vassos. Tom Vassos researched, created and wrote the content that relates to the 35-stage e-Business Roadmap. Alex Drossos completed this work as partial fulfillment towards an MBA degree at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. This report was written for the course called Marketing in Electronic Commerce, taught by Tom Vassos, author of the book Strategic Internet Marketing. There are also several more research reports available that cover over 200 other products, services and industries. Your feedback is welcome.


Tom Vassos

© 2002 Alex Drossos
© 2002 UofEbusiness.com