Posted by White Rhino

First it was books and toys, then they bought Whole Foods now Amazon might be making its move into the healthcare space. But what does this mean for healthcare, and specifically hospital marketers?

When the retail giant posted a job opening for a HIPAA expert, we knew something was coming (see our commentary on CBS News Boston). Shortly after, Amazon announced it was adding a top Seattle clinician to its roster. And then, of course, there was the deal with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase.

And these recent moves are only beginning of more to come. With the merger of CVS and Aetna, it's possible that Amazon could also scoop up a competitor like Walgreen’s or Rite Aid. Potentially using its Prime Service to give consumers easier access to their prescriptions and other health products through their network. Or they could be making the Amazon Web Services cloud computing offering more secure for new markets including hospitals, AMCs and research institutes where patient data and health record security is of the utmost importance.

Wherever Amazon is headed, it's no mystery that the brand understands today’s hyper-wired consumer and how to deliver remarkable brand experiences. Hospitals, pharmacies and doctor offices everywhere should take note and focus on designing better experiences for their patients – especially if they want to remain competitive.

And there's no better place to inspire the digital experience in healthcare than Amazon itself.

Take the hospital website for example. Could the way Amazon uses online behaviors to fuel product recommendations be the answer to driving a more personalized experience on your hospital website? And how might Amazon’s 1-click check-out feature inspire your appointment scheduling form?

Of course, Amazon isn't the only brand shaping consumer expectations for online digital experiences. Gold-standard sites like Facebook, Netflix, and JetBlue are equally ripe with inspiration.

And that's exactly where award-winning hospital websites from health systems like Overlake Medical Center are pulling their own inspiration from. Asking questions like, "what if a hospital website and Google had a baby?" Because, Let’s face it: Just like navigating through the halls of a hospital, making your way around its website can be very confusing. Patients are forced to navigate a site that’s based on a complex internal org chart — not the patient’s own mental model of how to search for care.

In Overlake's website model, patients search in their own words to quickly uncover relevant clinicians, services, locations, news, clinical trials, and multimedia. But their solution is also much more than a robust search tool integrated in the top right corner of the screen. Instead, the search box practically takes over the home page and search results are displayed on a single page with an intuitive and visually-appealing layout.

If you're looking for more inspiration for your own digital experience, download our eBook, 4 models for a consumer-centric hospital website. It's filled with examples from leading B2B and B2C brands like Amazon.

Because, while it's early to know exactly what the Amazon effect on healthcare will look like, this is also a wakeup call for the industry. It's time to get serious about shaping a new digital reality for healthcare.

Topics: Healthcare, Strategy, Technology