Healing the healthcare system in a time of crisis

How Mercy Health’s mission-driven approach puts them at the forefront of healthcare innovation

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35,000 co-workers
Chesterfield, Missouri

Mercy Health named one of the

top 5 large U.S. health systems 4 years in a row


Adobe Experience Manager ›

Adobe Target ›


Quickly pivot to address the COVID-19 pandemic

Create a robust, patient-friendly website

Provide the highest-possible level of patient


Created a COVID landing page in one day

Developed experience-driven website, including COVID health screener

Optimised conversion rates with personalised content

“Not a lot of people like going to the doctor. Not a lot of people like going to the hospital for a procedure, even when COVID wasn’t a concern. It’s a neutral experience at best. If we can make the experience better by interacting with people as individuals — and avoiding one-size-fits-all strategies — we can treat our patients with the dignity we believe they deserve.” — Ken Kellogg, Vice President, Brand and Digital Experience.

It’s a hectic time to be in healthcare. The first worldwide pandemic in recent memory has put extra pressure on every medical establishment. COVID-19 is all over the news. Part of every conversation. And changing the way people live, work and interact. At the centre of the crisis are hospitals, our most precious resource for treating coronavirus patients.

To say that hospitals are under a microscope right now would be an understatement.

But there’s another factor adding tumult to the situation. The relationship between healthcare organisations and patients is changing. As a result of the global trend towards digital transformation, consumers are holding all types of organisations to new standards. Like having a customer-friendly website that parallels the retail experience, complete with relevant content, intuitive navigation, easy-to-service and capabilities like Online scheduling and purchasing. The extra-high expectations that were once only associated with the retail and hospitality industries now seem to apply across the board, from government to manufacturing to healthcare. Between the pandemic and the consumerisation of healthcare, hospitals have had to undergo a lot of change in a relatively short period of time.

Mercy Health, however, was already ahead of the personalisation and consumerisation trend. Established as a ministry of the Catholic church in 1827, Mercy has always centred itself around treating patients as unique individuals made in the image of God, which has acted as the foundation of their high-calibre patient experiences for the past century-and-a-half. “The principle of treating people with dignity — that is, as individuals — that's been in Mercy’s DNA since long before I started serving here,” said Ken Kellogg, Mercy’s vice president of brand and digital experience. For Mercy, providing highly personal experiences isn’t just another business tactic. It’s part of their core identity.

Since 2016, Kellogg has worked to bring Mercy’s values to life in the digital realm. With a history of leading the digital transformations for some of the world’s biggest brands, he came to Mercy with all the necessary tools to elevate their digital experience. But the pandemic required something more of Kellogg and team — to move faster than they’d ever moved before, all while staying true to their values.

Better experiences lead to better health

“Healthcare is full of friction. It’s full of trap doors. It’s full of waiting on hold and then getting redirected ten minutes later. We want to get rid of that,” said Kellogg.

When Kellogg first joined Mercy, the healthcare industry’s bar for digital experiences was not set very high. Although Mercy’s in-person experiences were rooted in dignity and individual care, their values hadn’t yet been translated into their web experience. Like many healthcare organisations at the time, Mercy had a website that covered the basics, like searching for a provider and offering up contact information. But they were missing the functionalities they needed to put their online experiences on par with their in-person ones.

“We had no way to analyse, track or convert anything,” Kellogg reminisced.

Mercy’s team of digital marketers were well aware of the friction that most patients experience with their healthcare providers, especially online. In other industries like retail and hospitality, consumers had become used to website features like online appointment booking, bill paying and live chats. But even just a few years ago, these conveniences were few and far between in the healthcare industry. Mercy saw this as a major opportunity to put their values into practice — and differentiate themselves from other organisations. As Kellogg said, “We wanted to build and deliver a healthcare experience that was on par with the retail and travel experience.”

So the organisation set a goal for themselves — to build a measurable, ubiquitous, one-to-one experience across their digital presence, emerging channels and the physical space. With Kellogg’s research-driven approach and dedication to digital transformation, Mercy was in good hands. Together with his team, he sought a solution that would help them build next-level personal experiences.


Prevention — and the right technology — is the best medicine

As a not-for-profit organisation, Mercy needed to make intelligent investments that would work in the long term. Adobe Experience Manager offered the flexibility and extensibility they were looking for.

“We simply knew that, coming out of the RFP, Adobe Experience Manager was going to be the best product for us,” said Kellogg. .

With Adobe Experience Manager, the team started bringing their ideas to life. The new Adobe Experience Manager website was a huge step forward. Not only could patients now pay their bills on mercy.net, but they could also schedule appointments, view lab results and gain access to self-service information. Step by step, their website was becoming the “community marketplace” that Kellogg envisioned, where the needs of every individual patient could be met.

But in March 2020, something knocked them off course — the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, all the momentum Mercy had gained in creating their ideal digital experience needed to be redirected to address the crisis. At first, consumers across the U.S. didn’t know who to trust to get the facts about staying healthy and safe. Hospitals had become people’s most trusted source of information. In the blink of an eye, Mercy had to establish itself as the go-to coronavirus resource for their patients. And any care that could be delivered virtually needed to.

As Kellogg said, “Up until six months ago, technology was a great enabler for patients and providers. Now, technology is part of the actual distribution of healthcare services.”

Time was of the essence. Medical organisations across the world scrambled to go digital and update their customer experiences. But with Adobe Experience Manager, Mercy had a head start. They had already laid the groundwork for a powerful web presence that could bring retail-level experiences to their patients. And with Adobe Experience Manager, they had all the tools they needed to respond to the pandemic.

The only question was how quickly they could do it.

Rising to the challenge at unprecedented speed

“When you think about transformation, speed really, really matters. We have seen three, four, maybe five years of growth and change happen in three months,” said Kellogg, referencing the changes Mercy underwent in response to the pandemic.

The team jumped into hyperspeed to figure out a plan. Their first step was to address the pandemic on their website by creating a “digital COVID front door.” This webpage would be a single source of truth for patients, as well as a place for Mercy to express their perspective on the evolving health crisis. As one of the most respected hospital systems in the Midwest, it was vital for Mercy to set a precedent that other healthcare organisations could follow — and help their communities as quickly as possible.

Using Adobe Experience Manager, the team created their new landing page in a single day. Over the weekend, they added content. And by Monday, they were able to hit the “publish” button. Without Adobe Experience Manager to help speed things up, publishing the new page could have taken days or even weeks. Instead, the team was able to handle everything themselves. Adobe Experience Manager kept pace with every change and curveball thrown their way, making it simple for Kellogg’s team to update the page with new information as the pandemic developed.

It’s a good thing they created the page when they did — it got 256,000 visits within a few months of publication, which was over 8% of Mercy’s entire web traffic. Although it wasn’t what they had originally planned for, Mercy was still progressing towards their goal of a measurable, ubiquitous, one-to-one experience. But in the face of a pandemic, one page wasn’t enough.

So Mercy went back to their technology to look for ways they could further serve the individuals in their community.

When individual experiences affect a community’s well-being

“One of the great things about the team I serve with is that we all have a bias towards action,” said Kellogg.

While the realities of the pandemic pushed more patients to telehealth than before, hospitals like Mercy still had to keep their doors open to serve people in need of medical care. The risk of the virus spreading in enclosed spaces was very high, especially in areas where vulnerable populations were being treated. To slow the spread, hospitals had to triage — only certain patients could come in person and others would need to receive virtual care. At the same time, everybody wanted to know what their COVID status was and tests were scarce. Mercy needed to figure out a way to handle the influx of testing requests while also screening every patient who walked through their doors.

“As soon as we found out we needed to screen both anonymous and known visitors to our online booking portal, we asked ourselves, ‘How do we do it today or tomorrow? What tools in the toolbox have we got that can solve this problem? What can we do with Adobe Target?’ And bang, there it was.”

The team hopped to action. The quickest, simplest way for Mercy to build a COVID-19 screening experience was with Adobe Target. In a matter of days, the team produced a screener that patients could go through anonymously before entering personal details and booking an appointment. This reinforced the message that, while in-person care was still available, Mercy was doing everything in its power to protect patients and staff. And for web visitors who indicated that they were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, Mercy went the extra mile to collect their contact information and get in touch immediately to further assess the situation. Over the course of a few months, Mercy had already routed 35,000 people through the pre-appointment screener to assess their testing needs. In a way they never would have expected, Mercy was serving individuals digitally and at scale while also protecting the health of their community.

This inventive use of Adobe Target added a new dimension to how Mercy was already implementing it. The organisation had been using Adobe Target in conjunction with Adobe Experience Manager for conversion rate optimisation. The team was using a handful of conversion funnels, learning along the way how important it was to address customers at both ends. This strategic approach helped them with their original website implementation and it paid off in preparing them for the quick-turn COVID landing page and screener.

With their response to the pandemic in motion, Mercy has started once again to look towards the future. They’ve got big plans for their continued evolution towards personal healthcare experiences — and all the tools they need to turn their ideas into reality. “In the future, Adobe Target is going to be the centralised switchboard that drives our experiences. We want to use the connectivity with Adobe Experience Manager, our CRM and all our technology to drive personalised experiences for our community,” said Kellogg.

The business value of dignity

“When I think about how we’ve been able to accelerate our pace of business, I think of how we managed to set up our COVID-19 landing page within a single day,” said Kellogg.

As the U.S. continues to face the challenges of COVID-19, Mercy is staying nimble. With the increasingly better understanding of the virus and new health protocols, Mercy can now focus on bringing patients safely on-site. Yet even with things gradually shifting back towards “normal,” so much has changed. Mercy has proven to themselves that, with the right technology, organisational structure and culture, they can move faster than they ever imagined. And the world has learnt that digital healthcare is here to stay. There is no going back.

For an organisation like Mercy, this is good news. Not because they have a head start, but because it means that the industry is changing in favour of patients. Technology is increasing access to quality care — and giving organisations like Mercy tools to improve people’s digital experiences and their quality of life. Because when the dignity of the individual is the driving force in healthcare, everybody wins.

As Kellogg says, “Digital marketers, including me, love numbers — conversion rates, sales figures, net revenue, customer lifetime value. But when you look at what we did with the COVID-19 landing page, it wasn’t about revenue numbers. It was about serving patients and saving lives. For us, metrics aren’t numbers. They’re individuals. And if somebody got tested or treated because of our work or helped protect the vulnerable from the virus, that’s a life we helped save. And it’s all because of that single page. You can’t put a marketing number on that. It’s priceless.”


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