[Case Study] There’s a lot to like about Sutter Health System’s interactive website for women. From a consumer perspective, is a robust and highly useful health and wellness resource for residents of the Sacramento, CA community and Northern California. In fact, it’s been repeatedly recognized as one of the nation’s best consumer health websites.

What’s more, from a healthcare marketing and community relations perspective, represents a real-world example for hospital and healthcare executives in the benefits of Internet Marketing.

Sutter’s Consumer Products & Marketing Director Karin Miklos, tells us that the concept for the program was developed in 2007, created in 2008, and launched in 2009. “The premise,” Karin explains, “was to create an online location for women to engage with local healthcare experts and other women to get reliable health and wellness information.” And it’s women who make the majority of household healthcare decisions for their primary and extended families.

The program is free, but membership enrollment allows for personalized (and confidential) custom features. It’s important to note that the site presents localized content and information based on the member’s location…one of 800-plus zip codes in the Sutter service area. features for the public

We recommend that you spend a few minutes exploring the wide and deep site as a consumer (public, patient, prospective patient) might. In its four-plus years of existence, the well organized and easy to navigate website provides range of health and wellness resources, primarily for women.

Features include content suites for topics and issues relevant to different life stages (hence the name), as well as “life tools” such as interactive to-do lists, individual and family (secure) health records, and expert information. Many of these real-life tools are designed to inspire action and continuing use, such as a health risk assessment, BMI calculators and health trackers. Significantly, MyLifeStages is one of the few places online where local, practicing physicians answer questions, blog and talk about the topics that matter most to visitors.

Healthcare Marketing benefits…and what others can learn…

The Sutter Health website is an award-winning case example for other hospital and healthcare marketing professionals. In addition to the consumer online take-aways, some of the marketing benefits include:

  • Online brand awareness. MyLifeStages is a comfortable and natural content platform that comfortably enriches (and continually cross links to) the primary Sutter Health website, and when relevant, to affiliate websites. Further, it is a tangible branding payoff that fulfills on the promise of the corporate tagline: With You. For Life.
  • A trusted, local authority. Consumers—the general public as well as Sutter patients and family—find much more than generic information. Much of the expert information is locally authored, and localization (down to the zip code) is meaningful and close at hand. Consumers recognize Sutter Health sponsorship as a trusted, not-for-profit health network in their community.
  • Patient loyalty and satisfaction. Brand awareness and a trusted local resource contribute to a positive patient experience. But the “sticky” nature of the MyLifeStages site provides the visitor with multiple reasons to return and use the site regularly and for many years. The personal health records and fitness tracking are two examples. Program members are likely to become bonded with the site and the Sutter brand because of its useful and individualized features.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You are probably aware that Google, the dominant player in online search, gives added weight in their search process to quality content is authoritative, original and used often. For these and other SEO reasons, MyLifeStages content, which is refreshed constantly, will likely to capture a high position on the results page for many search keywords.
  •  Prospective new patients. Like many others, MyLifeStages includes an easily searchable directory of physicians and hospitals. In this context however, the site’s target audience of women—who often make healthcare decisions for the family—have a familiar and trusted resource immediately available.

Measures of results for MyLifeStages

Karin Miklos explains, “With several years of experience behind us, we now have a great many insights into this segment. We track about 35,000 visits per month, with most driven by SEO and return visitors. The program serves about 30,000 members, of which about 80 percent are commercially insured folks, and 60 percent are patients. Another 40 percent are prospects using the online platform for ongoing conversations about health-related topics.”

What’s more, MyLifeStages has been recognized for four consecutive years as “Best Overall Internet Site” among the eHealthcare Leadership Awards. Most recently it was honored again this month with Gold Awards in Overall Internet Site (Consumer), and Best Integrated Campaign (Love Your Body Challenge).

Public acceptance and industry awards, however, don’t happen with static programs. “We evolve this site monthly,” Karin tells us, “with timely new content each week from blogs and ATE, as well as  monthly updates based on consumer topics and new incentive content.”

Plus, Sutter Health has additional web priorities on deck for development, including attention to the growing mobile sector, social media, targeted content enhancements, and CRM features that support the patient experience and satisfaction.

Sutter Health’s is a rich case study with valuable online and Internet healthcare marketing lessons.

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Stewart Gandolf

Stewart Gandolf

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Healthcare Success Strategies
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is CEO of Healthcare Success, a medical marketing and health care advertising agency. He is also a frequent writer and speaker. Most importantly, he is happily married and a "rock-n-roll daddy" to two wonderful girls.
Stewart Gandolf
Stewart Gandolf


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