The Internet: Where We’ve Come From, Where We’re Going

March 23rd, 2015 No comments

Twenty-six years ago this month, Sir Timothy John “Tim” Berners-Lee proposed an information management system that would become the World Wide Web. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The Millennials of today have little idea of what life was like before the Internet, and even those of us who are old enough to be Sir Tim’s peers – or older – have a hard time remembering life in the pre-digital world. But, in 1989, this is how we did health care:

  • If you wanted information about a disease, condition or procedure, your options were:
    • Ask your doctor or nurse for information.
    • Get pamphlets or other printed materials from your doctor’s office or maybe your local health department.
    • Go to the library and search the encyclopedia (if you didn’t have a set of encyclopedias at home) or periodicals.
    • Call or write to a related organization (American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, American Diabetes Association, etc.) to request information.
  • If you needed to make an appointment with your doctor, you called his/her office.
  • If you needed to see your doctor, you had to go to his/her office or clinic.
  • If you needed help with your health insurance, you called the insurance company.
  • If someone you knew was in the hospital, you could communicate with that person by calling on the phone, sending a get-well card via snail mail, or visiting the person in the hospital. Or you could call a florist and have a floral arrangement delivered.
  • Hospital and health system marketing departments focused largely on print advertising media, with TV and radio ads thrown in for good measure.
  • Essentially all documentation was on paper – lots and lots and lots of paper. Much of the documentation was handwritten, from doctors’ orders to nurses’ notes to prescriptions.
  • Faxing was a fast and relatively high-tech way to communicate.
  • If you needed a prescription medication, your doctor either handed you a handwritten prescription or faxed it to your pharmacy.
  • If you wanted to compare prices of prescription medications, you pulled out the Yellow Pages of the phone book (note to Millennials: you may want to google “phone book”), looked up pharmacies, and called them to check on prescription prices.
  • If you were looking for a new doctor or other provider, you asked your family, friends and coworkers for recommendations.

As the Internet’s reach grew and technology was developed to help leverage it, consumers began to go online more and more. While other businesses were relatively quick to adopt the Internet as part of their business strategy, the health care industry was slow to catch on. Even as consumers clamored for more health information online, the American Medical Association in 2000 issued a press release urging people not to seek health information online, to fend off the possibility of not being the primary source of health information for their patients.

But the AMA was no match for Netscape Navigator, the first widely-used Web browser, or Internet Explorer, which eventually overtook Navigator as the preferred browser. The amount of health information available online continued to increase exponentially, and Websites such as became more common. As the amount of health information increased, concerns about the accuracy and veracity of online information grew. Organizations such as URAC and Health on the Net Foundation were created to develop standards for improving the quality of health information online.

In the meantime, on the business side of health care, marketers began to realize the value of investing in a Website and an online strategy. They found that consumers’ thirst for health information could be leveraged by health care organizations to attract patients to their facilities and services by providing the sought-after information on their Websites. And as technology such as high-speed internet, text messaging, podcasting and mobile devices grew, consumers demanded to get health information on all channels.

So, here we are in 2015 – this is how we do health care:

  • If you want information about a disease, condition or procedure, you simply type the term into a search engine and pick from thousands of search results. Or you can use a mobile app. You can get static content, videos, podcasts or text messages and you can get this content on your computer, Smartphone or tablet.
  • If you need to make an appointment with your doctor, you can go online to request an appointment through a patient portal, or use a chat session to set up the appointment. Or you can call on the phone.
  • If you need to see a doctor, you can go to his/her office or clinic, or you can schedule a virtual visit through a service such as MDLive, Doctor on Demand, or another similar service.
  • If you need help with your health insurance, you can send an email, go online and use the portal, or chat with a representative. Or you can call on the phone.
  • If someone you know is in the hospital, you can communicate with that person by email, Skype, text message, CarePages or CaringBridge. You can go online to pick out a floral arrangement to send. Or you can call on the phone or send a get-well card via snail mail.
  • Hospital and health system marketing departments are increasingly using digital assets and platforms. Just having a Website isn’t enough. With the advent of mobile devices and social media, patient engagement is a 24/7/365 proposition in 2015.
  • While there’s still a good bit of actual paper in use, documentation is increasingly via electronic means. EHRs, patient portals and other digital platforms.
  • If you look hard enough, you can probably find a fax machine somewhere. But more often, documents are scanned or created electronically and sent via email.
  • If you need a prescription medication, your doctor can hand you a computer-generated prescription or fax/email the prescription to your pharmacy. You can also use an online pharmacy and order online or via email or chat.
  • If you want to compare prices of prescription medications, you can search online for prices.
  • If you are looking for a new doctor or other provider, you can go online and search various Websites, from professional physician organizations to sites such as HealthGrades.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee started a revolution in 1989 and we’re all the better off for it. Who knows what the next 26 years will bring? What will health care look like in 2041?

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It’s Not Too Late! “Digital ‘Shift’ Happens” Web Clinic Weds., March 11th

March 10th, 2015 No comments

If you missed Andy Gradel’s session, Digital ‘Shift’ Happens: Making the Case to Turn Digital Dimes into Dollars,” at last year’s Healthcare Internet Conference in Scottsdale, here’s your chance to hear it. Starting at 1:00 p.m. ET tomorrow (Wednesday, March 11th), Andy will discuss steps to make sure your organization includes adequate resources for digital strategy in its marketing plan.

From selling the value of SEO and optimizing funnels to effective remarketing and small screen conversions, hear how leading organizations have used meaningful data and stats to plant the seeds of a budding Web marketing culture.

If you have not yet registered, you still have time! Go to the registration page to sign up. Also, if you sign for an additional 4 Web Clinics among the remaining Clinics, you’ll get a 40% discount over the cost of signing up for individual sessions!

Fifty Shades of Grey (stone)

February 12th, 2015 No comments

50 shadesHas your organization’s digital strategy mastered you – rather than the other way around? Do you feel more pain than pleasure when you review your analytics?


With everything you have on your plate, it can be hard to stay on top of all the various parts of your digital plan. But Greystone is here to help! Whatever the shade of your digital woes, we can help you whip your plan into shape and get yourself back in charge.

Our services come in at least 50 various shades:


Content/Strategy Writing

1.  Performing an audit of your current Web site’s content “readiness” to develop a content strategy that identifies high-priority focus areas.
2.  Developing an editorial calendar that supports both new content development and routine content maintenance.
3.  Providing original content writing and revisions and ensure that the content is optimized for search engines.
4.  Providing additional writing resources to complement your existing staff.
5.  Improving the content development process to drive your metrics.


Design Services

6.  We understand your business, we know your audiences and we know what it takes to reach them.
7.  We can help build functional and graphic Web designs, information architecture, wire-frames, site layout and “look and feel” that break out from the typical mold.
8.   Our team can help improve your UX/UI.
9.   We can help with persona development.
10.  If needed, we can supplement your site maintenance resources.


CMS Selection

11.  Expediting the process — and saving you a lot of time — dealing with a review that can take up to 3-4 months.
12.  With our vast vendor selection experience, we’ve developed a fair, objective process for finding your right fit.
13.  We can help ensure an apples-to-apples comparison on the key features important to your organization.
14.  Our scoring methodology ensures an unbiased outcome and reduces your risk of a bad decision.


Usability Testing

15.  Our Usability Testing method can help show how well your Website works.
16.  Leading to ways to improve your Website’s usability.



17.  gSight is a tool to gauge Website user experience and brand impact.
18.  gSight identifies and prioritizes areas where a Website needs the most improvement.
19.  gSight’s metrics provide a better understanding of the online experience’s influence on the overall brand relationship, helping you to better understand how your online experience is impacting your brand’s health.
20.  gSight, powered by Klein & Partners market research, provides objective and measurable insights to help you improve the online experience by understanding visitor impressions and where to focus efforts to improve.
21.  You’ll receive actionable information to improve Web performance either quarterly or annually, via a brief, standardized online survey.
22.  Your survey responses are recorded in a secured database and accessible via an online reporting dashboard.
23.  As data builds over time, the reporting allows for both trending and comparison to benchmark scores.
24.  Among other benefits, gSight can help you to compare your Website’s performance and scores to that of peers.


Enterprise-wide Planning

25.  Our extensive experience in advising hospitals/health systems nationwide has given us a unique perspective on the enterprise-wide deployment of Web strategy, Internet technologies and digital marketing.
26.  Our approach can help address your needs across all organizational entities (i.e., hospitals, clinics, physician practices, colleges, business units, etc.).
27.  We’ll work with you to ensure that strategy drives the implementation decisions, not vice versa.
28.  The typical planning process, which is customizable, starts with a current state assessment and then includes strategic thinking on all components within the organization.
29.  We conduct face-to-face meetings with key decision makers to ensure they understand what’s working and what’s not and to help to build a consensus on priorities and strategies across the enterprise.
30.  Our goal is to create a realistic, achievable plan for your organization – a usable roadmap – grounded in the realities of your current situation, budget and resources and able to guide your next-generation Web and digital strategies.
31.  The ultimate goal is to help you engage your visitors, improve their online experiences and drive revenue growth for your health system.


Call Center Consulting and Strategic Re-Positioning

32.  We’ve helped hundreds of organizations develop, enhance and integrate their healthcare call centers to support growth and provide superior customer service.
33.  Our Call Center planning services include assessments, business planning, Web site/call center integration and general call center consulting.
34.  We use a thorough review to determine the current operational state of the call center, which will enable us to identify service gaps and make recommendations about opportunities for improvement.
35.  Our comprehensive assessment also allows us to develop strategic plans to guide the call center’s future directions. These days, that often means consolidating multiple call centers and integrating it with virtual and digital channels.
36.  In the implementation stage, we’ll assist you in determining how to use your call centers to achieve institutional goals.


Agile Planning

37.  Our Agile Planning services can help your organization increase its competitive rigor and the sophistication of its strategic planning practices by guiding you to robust, nimble and disciplined strategic thinking that drives growth and organizational effectiveness.
38.  We can help your organization refresh a plan, make a course correction or re-invigorate an initial strategy that has lost momentum or been impacted by competitor counter moves.
39.  Over 2-3 days, we will immerse key stakeholders and decision makers in a fluid brainstorming session that focuses on answering a series of interrelated questions about the organization’s strategic direction.
40.  We’ll derive a plan that is an adaptive, agile directive that provides the appropriate focus for getting the Web strategy back on track and ready to take on the competition with a roadmap to guide day-to-day Web operations.


Targeted Counsel

41.  Focusing on specific needs by brainstorming, trouble-shooting and resolving your tough issues.
42.  Analyzing your existing Web organizational structure and staffing resources and then use that information to build a recommendation and rationale for an efficient org. structure and the staff resources needed to meet your organizational objectives.
43.  Determining any missing staff positions, developing an appropriate reporting and management system and developing a phased approach to on-boarding new hires.
44.  These services can be provided as a stand-alone or combined based on your needs.


Gap Analysis

45.  Our Gap Analysis provides a comprehensive assessment of your existing public-facing Web site or intranet to determine the steps needed to move from its current state to a desired, future state.
46.  Although a typical Gap Analysis starts with a current state assessment, it can be customized to focus on your “hot button” Web issues.
47.  The resulting analysis enables your team to reflect objectively on the differences between the current state of the Web site and what you want it to be in the future, and identify the gaps between the two.
48.  The Gap Analysis also helps identify the tasks and resources needed to close the gap.
49.  This objective assessment can be used to help make decisions about your future strategic and functional direction, guide funding decisions, help you understand how your site compares to peer and benchmark sites and perhaps most importantly, obtain budget and approval for needed functional and content improvements.
50.  Gap analyses can also be conducted for your social media channels, mobile presence and apps, and for any existing call centers.


Don’t see the precise shade you’re looking for? Just contact us. We’re not handcuffed by a fixed list of options. It’s our pleasure to mix your perfect shade by adding a little of one shade, a touch of another and a dab of yet another to meet your needs.

   And of course …  have fun movie-watching this coming weekend!




Categories: A little fun, Greystone news Tags:

Join the Healthcare Internet Hall of Fame’s Board of Judges

February 11th, 2015 No comments

HIHoF LogoSince 2011, the Healthcare Internet Hall of Fame (HIHOF) has honored the “best of the best” in our industry. Individuals, organizations, and products have all received recognition from HIHOF.

The inductees each year are chosen by a Board of Judges, comprised of a select group of individuals who are chosen to serve two-year terms and are responsible for the evaluating and selecting the Healthcare Internet Hall of Fame inductees.

Four of the current judges are retiring from their positions, so the Board is looking to fill their slots. If you have been looking for an opportunity to serve in an industry-wide capacity, consider applying to be a judge for HIHOF. HIHOF is an independent organization whose annual inductees are selected by a Board of Judges composed of experienced industry providers and vendors.

The four retiring judges have shared their thoughts about their term of service on the Board of Judges.

  •  Michael Cutter, StayWell: “It’s been an honor not only to participate in a forum for evaluating nominees who made remarkable and lasting contributions to healthcare communications, but also to serve alongside dedicated industry heavy-hitters on the HIHOF board of judges.”


  • Stephanie Cannon, Nationwide Children’s Hospital: “It was an honor being part of the inaugural group of HIHOF judges. As a new discipline of work has evolved, HIHOF has truly been able to point to many key leaders both past and present who not only inspire but share their knowledge along the way. Taking time to look back and acknowledge those achievements in which individuals, organizations and partners broke new ground is a way to tell our story and, I feel, inspire those who currently are faced with challenges.”


  • Becky Wardzala, Hendricks Regional Health: “As we rush through our busy professional lives, we probably do not take enough time to recognize an individual’s contributions, especially when that person is outside our own organization. And yet, these are the very people we look to for knowledge and inspiration, so it is very appropriate to have the HIHOF awards to note major accomplishments and remember others who have served on the leading edge of innovation for healthcare. It’s been a great experience to be on the judging panel for HIHOF. I’ve had the opportunity to network with the other judges and learn about so many people that have made a lasting impact in our industry. I look forward to seeing the awards continue to grow that thrive. Congratulations to all the inductees and thank you to Greystone for creating this program.”


  • Robin Snow, Aefinity Interactive, LLC: “Serving as a HIHOF judge was a wonderful experience. It was an opportunity to honor many of the giants in our field who shaped our industry through leadership, innovation and mentoring. It was also very rewarding in that I was introduced to many of the younger thought leaders who I was not aware of and who are shaping our industry now and into the future.”

The time commitment for a judge is approximately 5-6 hours over a 6-month period. All meetings are conducted virtually. Attendance at HIHOF activities at the Annual Healthcare Internet Conference is strongly recommended, but not required.

If you are interested in serving as a judge, please visit to learn more and apply.



Super Bowl-Worthy Customer Engagement

February 3rd, 2015 No comments

XLIXHow about that Super Bowl? Whether your team won or lost, that was some crazy good game!

The Super Bowl presents a “perfect storm,” in a way, to consider engaging customers across multiple platforms. For those of us who watched or otherwise kept up with the game, we had many ways to engage with the game beyond the old-fashioned way of flatscreen TVs, including:

  • Live-streaming on computers or tablets
  • Checking various social media updates on their phones
  • Skyping or FaceTiming with friends and families
  • Or more than one of these at a time!

This year’s game had increased interest for several reasons – we won’t forget “Deflate-gate” anytime soon, will we? And as a result, had a record-breaking audience of over 114 million viewers. And days later, people are still talking about Super Bowl XLIX. While people will soon forget all but a couple of the TV commercials, they’ll long remember the brands that continue to engage with them.

If your organization is looking for strategies to help break away from the competition and increase engagement across multiple platforms, here are a few take-aways from Super Bowl strategy:

  • Know yourself and your customers. In order to develop the perfect game plan, you must honestly assess the unique strengths that put your organization in a position to score. To reach success, you must win over the customer, so emphasizing your strengths and assets is as important as trying to “one-up” the competition. Using a single analytics system to assess performance across all touch points is a huge advantage in developing the information necessary to develop a lifelong, connected view of your customers, leading to the ultimate in service delivery.
  • Don’t forget that the game is for the fans. As much as a team wants to grow its base of season-ticket holders, the first focus is getting last year’s purchasers of season tickets to re-up. Likewise, your primary focus should be on known fans of your brand, so they should be identified as the target for your initial marketing efforts. Innovative connections with your most loyal customers often lead to lifelong loyalty. How can you engage with these customers at each stage of their buying cycle? How can you meet their needs as they evolve through their patient journey?
  • Time on the practice field is time well spent. A successful team doesn’t run the same old few plays over and over – they develop new plays based on the strengths and abilities of the current team members, as well as instituting adjustments based on other factors. This is why coaches spend so much time watching films of practice sessions. Your organization should do the same, in a manner of speaking, when developing new campaigns. Come up with new ideas and strategies and try them out on a small scale, using small focused markets to answer questions and identify areas for improvement. Use frequent, early testing for every new marketing effort to make sure you get it right. Don’t let yourself get paralyzed with the details – test the ideas and trust the results.
  • Make in-game and halftime adjustments. We’ve all seen teams go into the locker room at halftime, down by a seemingly insurmountable score and/or playing poorly, only to adjust their game plan and win the game. So it is – also – with a new marketing effort. Despite your best efforts, sometimes a campaign just doesn’t perform as expected. Before throwing in the towel, however, you should quickly test adjustments. Make sure you have a plan for possible mid-game adjustments in your overall campaign plan. And just a reminder: you should not only work to fix what isn’t working, but also exploit what is.

Take a few minutes this week to develop a super bowl-worthy game plan that personalizes engagement with your customers. Use it to create a super experience for them and win out over the competition.



Categories: Strategy Tags: