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How Steward Health Care's Digital Strategy Puts the Patient First

No matter the industry, customers expect personalized experiences that deliver answers and solutions fast. Today, patients expect the same level of engagement from their health care providers. In a presentation at the 2016 Acquia Engage conference, Brian Carty, chief marketing officer of Steward Health Care Systems, explained how Steward developed a digital strategy that made the patient the priority.

Steward Health Care, one of the largest health care systems in New England, operates nine hospitals and has delivered nearly 1 million patient encounters since its founding. All of Steward’s facilities offer an integrated model of care, which contrasts traditional fee-for-service payment models. Steward has developed a unique model of service that puts the patient at the center; it needed a digital strategy that would do the same.

Before adopting the Acquia platform, steward.org offered little customer engagement. The site was difficult to navigate, lacked responsive capabilities, and 85 percent of posted content was never viewed. To make their website patient-centric, Steward sought out to answer two questions:
1. Where do patients get their information?
2. How does a consumer transact business?

Steward went straight to the source and surveyed 2,000 patients to understand how users engage online. Steward learned that 30 percent of patients preferred to use mobile devices when connecting with health care providers. Patients also explained that they prioritized the ability to make an appointment, get directions, and find a physician online.

Carty and his team also studied the digital platforms of brands that are revered for the digital experiences they deliver, such as Amazon and Airbnb. Pulling from these companies’ best practices, Steward began developing a user experience rarely found in the health care industry. The new steward.org provides patients with a site that is easy to navigate, catalogs relevant information, and is available on any device.

The primary goal of steward.org was to reject the status quo and to create a site that provides patients with exactly what they want, not what health care providers think or assume they want. With a new-and-improved site, the number of online visitors has skyrocketed. Across all nine hospital sites, the number of unique visitors has increased by an average of 112 percent.

Watch the full presentation, What Would the Patient Want? Steward’s Seemingly Simple Approach to Digital, here.

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