Patient education is the most important goal of the site. IMA is concerned with providing a means for patients to maintain their health by providing the education necessary that will allow patients to make sound healthcare decisions. This is achieved through a series of health-related topics and methodologies that allow the patient to research, track, and manage their heath care in an effective manner. IMA provides information on health condition-specific topics; health risk factors and preventive measures for healthy living; and the tools and activities necessary for setting and achieving one's health goals. Examples include topics such as allergies, high cholesterol, heart disease and stress, group specific topics such as men's health, women's health, and family heath, and preventive healthcare methodologies and tools such as exercise, nutrition, stress reduction, and a goals setting wizard.
In addition to providing general healthcare education for patients, IMA is also interested in making sure patients understand the different types of healthcare specialties and services that IMA can provide. This is achieved by providing information that describes the different types of both the general and specialized healthcare that IMA offers, a forum of health-related issues written by the IMA medical staff, and IMA physician profiles that list the credentials and specializations of each physician.
A secondary purpose of the site is its use as a communication and marketing tool. The community that IMA is a part of is extremely important to them as an organization, and some IMA staff members view their web site as a venue that has the potential to communicate to the community not only what kinds of health care they can provide, but also the message that the healthcare service they offer is exceptional. IMA is interested in reaching both current community members as well as those who may be new to the area. When faced with the task of choosing among many different healthcare providers, IMA wants to make sure that the patient is left with no question about whether or not IMA can serve their needs. In fact, IMA's strategic business plan has been described by many staff members as "the exceptional delivery of health care".
It should be noted here, however, that although marketing is a goal of the site, many older physicians are not comfortable with using the Web as a medium for marketing themselves. Many physicians have thus been unsupportive of the physician profiles feature of the web site. Even younger physicians, who do support this feature of the web site, do not see it as a means for marketing themselves to the patient. Rather, they see physician profiling as a means for extending the visibility of their curriculum vitae to fellow physicians. While this may be useful to physicians for the referral process, this is not very useful for the largest of the IMA web site audiences, the patients. A general concern of the organization is that physician profiles be in terms that patients can understand.
The major stakeholders in the organization are those involved in the planning and implementation of IMA's business strategies and goals. These are primarily the administrative staff and board members who wish to extend IMA's visibility in the community and establish IMA as an organization that provides outstanding health care. Although the medical staff certainly are stakeholders, they are not as proactive about the web site. This is because they either fail to see how the site can promote their practice in a profession that has become much more competitive that it once was, or because they are too occupied with their practice to care much. Finally, patients are major stakeholders in the site, especially those who have chosen to manage their healthcare through the many different resources and tools provided on the IMA site.
The site is promoted extensively through printed materials as well as at IMA's numerous facilities. Signage can be found in many different places around the main facility promoting the site as one of the premier sources for patient information and education about healthcare issues and general IMA offerings. The Patient Education page within the website is the most important page and is constantly being updated. The lobby contains a Patient Education workstation where patients can browse only the IMA web site.
IMA feels that community is very important. They are involved with the IU School of Medicine, Bloomington hospital, and they work in a number of other hospitals in nearby communities. The IMA webpage helps these communities since most rural hospitals don't have 1-800 numbers or websites of their own. IMA is in good standing with the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce and the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation. They wish to establish a better relationship with the Herald Times and provide a link to the Herald Times' news coverage about the IMA doctors who are often quoted in the paper. This connection is considered especially important to IMA because it would provide more credibility for their doctors.
The initial development of the website was a collaboration between IMA and the Herald Times. As the structure of this initial design proved unworkable, it was redesigned by Lori Teach, the director of Information Systems at IMA.
The official responsibilities for website maintenance are divided between in-house and outsourced responsibilities. Within IMA there are two individuals involved with the site: Dave Burnworth, the Director of Clinical Operations and Lori Teach, Director of Information Systems. The web hosting is done by Kiva and Jeff Rosenplott from the Herald Times supplies the print materials. Rosenplott also designed the color scheme and graphics for the original site that was carried over to the current site, and maintains this information. In addition, Les Teach is the outsourced Webmaster for the site. There are also some unofficial opinions voiced by various members of the medical staff.
With regard to the website, Dave Burnworth makes sure that the wishes of the board are communicated to Lori and Les Teach. As director of Information Systems, Lori is single-handedly responsible for running the entire information technology department. She maintains all of the hardware and software systems in the organization. In addition, she communicates the company's wishes to Les Teach. Les works for UITS at Indiana University and is paid for his consultant Webmaster work on the IMA website out of the IMA IT budget.
The administrative staff (Dave Burnworth, Director of Clinical Operations, and until recently Jennifer Forney, former Director of Communications & Community Relations) meets with the technical staff (Lori and Les Teach) once a month to discuss any issues related to the IMA web site. During these monthly meetings recommendations are submitted to the president of IMA. He reviews these proposals before passing them on to the board of directors for final approval. Once the recommendations and changes are approved they are forwarded to Les Teach who then makes the necessary changes to the site.
Audiences who are expected to frequent the site include many groups external to the IMA organization:
IMA also has an intranet for their ~300 employees. However, according the the website team, this site is not being used to its full potential. Instead, the staff visits the public site frequently to see what events are happening and who the new hires are. Those who maintain the public site therefore view it as a tool that also enables communication within the organization.
IMA is currently conducting a mail survey to gauge patient satisfaction. They wish to gain knowledge about their patients and how IMA's services rate. They will use this information to help them improve their services and patients' visits. However, IMA did not ask any questions about their website in the survey. This may be something they consider in the future, but not something they seem to be overly concerned about currently.
The site is hosted by Kiva Networking, which charges IMA approximately $3,600 per year for domain hosting and Internet access. The current webmaster is a consultant and bills his time.
First and foremost, the IMA Website is a tool for patient education and outreach to the community. Besides the many external audiences which use the site, internal staff members and physicians also use it for communication purposes. Maintenance of the site is overseen by a small core group of IMA employees. As well, there is an outsourced Webmaster and local site host. Potential exists for site redesign that will positively impact the IMA organization, but it must be done in a manner which accounts for the unique organizational workflow and widely varying content needs of its audiences.