Viability of Product or Service
Business’s Case for Changing to the Website
An online environment will help AHCF staffs in different locations in the country claimed to tackle operational problems in care provision. These include issues in providing care for underserved populations. Several of them reported that a financial challenge for AHCF lies in the fact that they do not get updated information from healthcare facilities. Moreover, healthcare insurance companies delay reimbursement for services related to care coordination they provide to patients.
The online environment will facilitate sharing of information with providers outside the organization, making online payments to healthcare facilities located in remote locations, and providing information to patients on where to locate specialty care. The website will be effective in recruiting healthcare providers for its patient population, ensuring timely delivery of medical products, and integrating care with other healthcare facilities.
How well AHCF will do in the Online Environment
AHCF is expected to increase its market share by going online. In the online environment AHCF will integrate all methodical and instrumental tools for health information acquisition, management and applications in clinical practice, research and administration. An online environment will increase AHCF’s scale of reaching far beyond hospital environment. AHCF’s online environment will create an integral environment for health services for all users.
Online environment will enable patients who are increasingly prevalent to serious aliments to access the required help and even consult with physicians. AHCF should go online to fulfill its needs for communication, information, convenience, and facilitate easy access to their health records from different parts of the world (Nelson & Ball, 2004). Going online will enable AHCF to facilitate patient-computer interviewing, disease management, healthcare quality, and patient safety.
Through an online environment AHCF will increase its market share to 25% in the next five years because it will provide one of the most important solutions to address the cost and quality of healthcare. An online environment will reduce the complexity of health care associated with high cost, and the need for quality, patient safety, adequate organization and delivery, cross-border care, reimbursement and liability.
Advantages and Challenges of Going Online
Going online will enable AHCF to provide patients and other healthcare organizations and collaborators with information not only about illness prevention but also educate them about their health plans and costs of healthcare. Clinicians will use AHCF website to keep up with current information about health conditions. The AHCF online presence will provide caregivers located in remote locations with access to consulting specialists as well as clinical data useful for diagnosis and treatment.
The challenge associated with AHCF going online is evaluating the quality of online data on the basis of completeness, accuracy, and consistency. Ensuring security of patients and other health records data and transactions poses a major challenge to AHCF. Authentication techniques are expensive technologies to use and support and are prone to failure (Nelson & Ball, 2004). There is a risk of jeopardizing patient privacy and confidentiality. Physicians may openly engage in inappropriate behaviour such as blogging and unprofessional commenting.
Current Online Competition
The major competitors of AHCF are John Hopkins Healthcare Foundation (www.hopkinsmedicine.org ), Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com), and Centres for Disease Control (CDC) (www.cdc.gov). These three competitors have established global presence through various technologies such as websites and facilitated various research studies in developing countries especially in Africa and Asia. The websites of three competitors provide high levels of usability, are reliable and convenient for users who require health related information.
AHCF is going to face online competition from John Hopkins healthcare foundation because it uses social media to rate the level of service delivery to patients. The hospital also uses its e-commerce platform to facilitate online payments and reimbursement from insurance companies. John Hopkins Hospital online presence presents a major competition for AHCF because its online portal links the patient health portal with the electronic medical record which in turn assists in population based panel management programs. This panel management is of great importance for care management of chronic illnesses including behavioral conditions.
The John Hopkins Hospital website portal has enabled the hospital to obtain a market share of 7% of online presence for health based organizations. This is because it helps John Hopkins Hospital care managers to schedule medical appointments, e-mail securely with a client’s medical provider and view the results of laboratory tests and other medical records. John Hopkins Hospital is therefore a major competitor for AHCF because the hospitals online presence has been an efficient way for the care managers to contact medical providers and reduces the time needed to make medical appointments.
Mayo Clinics e-commerce platform enables patients to pay online for treatment services, while its online CRM enables the organization to keep patient records in a database which in turn ensures timely communication. AHCF will face major online competition from Mayo Clinic because with a help of online CRM, Mayo Clinic is able to contact patients from different parts of the world to know their progress and book for physicians in advance.
Online presence enables Mayo Clinic consumers to tailor plans according to individual needs, obtain instant quotes and make online purchases. Mayo Clinic has been able to obtain 8% of market share regarding online presence. The Mayo Clinic’s share of online presence presents a major competition for AHCF because through its website Mayo Clinic presents diseases and drug related information effectively and efficiently for its users.
CDC website has an international consideration, which encompasses the use of various languages and payment options to increase its global reach. AHCF will face online competition from CDC website portal because it represents diseases in alphabetical order and users could navigate using initials. The important point is to serve the alphabetical buttons alone without any default list which requires users to at least skim the list and lose time.
The CDC website helps users to find the information easier compared to a complete but long list. The CDC online presence commands 5% market share because it provides all possible diseases and conditions and lists common conditions besides providing a separate detailed list. The CDC web portal minimizes the burden on health information seekers, who are probably experiencing stress and anxiety. The CDC website online presence presents a major competition for AHCF because of its systematic, simple and consistent designs offering interactive tools. It is important to note that content partitions are shaped according to medical knowledge of target users.
Table 3 for AHCF Online Competition
|Competitors Name||Website URL||Description||% Online Presence|
|John Hopkins Healthcare||www.hopkinsmedicine.org||Online portal links the patient health portal with the electronic medical record|
John Hopkins Hospital care managers to schedule medical appointments
|Mayo Clinic||www.mayoclinic.com||Mayo Clinic consumers to tailor plans according to individual needs obtain instant quotes and make online purchases.|
Patients obtain instant quotes and make online purchases.
|Centres for Disease Control (CDC)||www.cdc.gov||Represents diseases in alphabetical order and users could navigate using initials.|
The website minimizes the burden on health information seekers
Five Online Strategies
There are various online strategies that can be used to market AHCF website. These include e-press releases, e-newsletters, e-mail marketing, affiliate marketing and paid advertising strategies. These five strategies will ensure that customers and non-customers of AHCF website know and access the website and services offered by the organization.
E-newsletters are vital communications tool that can be used for marketing AHCF website to its customers and non-customers. E-newsletters are ideal for AHCF because they provide diverse range of information to stakeholders and are a vehicle to promote the organizations products and services. E-newsletters are effective as part of the online marketing strategy because it provides a terrific mechanism for communicating a highly personalized blend of information and promotions for customers and potential customers. The e-newsletter should include information about brand building, relationship building, and offer information about marketing research (Gay, Charlesworth & Esen, 2007).
E-press relations strategy plays an important role in marketing AHCF website to its customers and non-customers. E-press relations marketing strategy ensures that the content is available in media such as YouTube where users can easily access via a link in the AHCF website. Gay, Charlesworth & Esen (2007) says that virtual press kits designed to facilitate the users need for easily available information should be availed. The advantage of this strategy is that it has minimal costs since the organization has a PR department. The use of other online services such as news wire makes e-press release available to all customers and non-customers (Gay, Charlesworth & Esen, 2007). To take care for the growing number of online publications, each press release should be available on its own web page so that the e-journalist can include a hyperlink to that page in their article.
Affiliate Online Marketing
Affiliate online marketing strategies will enable AHCF to promote its website to its customers. In affiliate marketing, banners are put up on the website in return for a proportion of the commerce it generates. Gay, Charlesworth & Esen (2007) say that this strategy will works well for AHCF because affiliated organizations are proactive and vigorously promote the product s and services offered by AHCF. Although affiliate marketing strategy includes some fees, Ad banners are passive, sitting on the web page waiting for the user to click on them. For affiliates, being an affiliate produces a form for direct income, in much the same way that selling space for advertising does. Affiliate marketing attracts more customers and potential customers because they are interested in exploring new products and services offered by AHCF.
E-mail strategies play an important role in introducing the website to customers and non-customers. AHCF should create a list of potential customers and non-customers and then send the link to the website to potential and prospective visitors. The e-mail strategy is effective for AHCF as it does not involve overhead costs. In addition, marketers can create coupons which in turn can be attached to the website and forwarded to customers for detailed information about the website.
Paid advertising strategies are highly effective as they ensure that the website appears in various sites from which users and customers can open the website. By paying premiums to key players such as Google, AHCF will assure that more traffic will be attracted by the website. Paid advertising strategies allows the organization to choose banner size and position of its choice, brings high quality targeted traffic, saves time required to perform SEO and free marketing. Paid advertising strategy may lead to one way high quality back link if the website where the advertising is displayed does not use any follow Meta Tag.
Implementing online billing will help AHCF improve management and collection of fees owed by patients. AHCF can use credit card to pay suppliers and other services online. Online funds transfer can be done to various parts of the world to facilitate the procurement of drugs and other products. Through online payment, AHCF will realize increased patient satisfaction and improved staff efficiencies by implementing online payment tool. Abrazhevich (2004) says that the role of online payment in healthcare is to deliver payments from patients to healthcare organizations in a most effective, efficient, and problem-free way.
How the Shopping Cart will be Integrated with the Website
AHCF will use PayPal shopping cart solution. This is because PayPal is trusted solution which covers over 200 countries worldwide. The PayPal software will enable AHCF customers to make purchases online. The PayPal software allows online shopping customers to place items such as medical products in the cart. Upon checkout, the software typically calculates a total for the order including shipping and handling charges and the associated taxes if applicable. The PayPal shopping cart software provides a function of capturing a client’s payment information (Todaro, 2007). In this case of Visa credit card, PayPal relies on the software module of the secure gateway provider, in conjunction with the secure payment gateway in order to conduct secure credit card transactions online.
PayPal integrates basic shopping cart functions within the website and it links via the PayPal network as the payment gateway. A setup will be done in the HTML code of the AHCF web site. The HTML code for the individual product payments buttons will be inserted in the AHCF website. The checkout process itself resides on the PayPal site hence new pages for checkout process are not created. The PayPal shopping cart software is installed on the hosting web server or on the secure server which accepts ordering information (Todaro, 2007). The shopping cart software will be implemented using HTTP cookies or query strings. During the implementation, data related to the shopping cart will be kept in the session object and will accessed and manipulated on the fly as the user selects different items from the cart. At the process of commitment, the information is accessed and an order is generated against the selected item thus clearing the shopping cart.
The Vendor to be Used
AHCF will use Visa cards and PayPal shopping cart. In Visa card payment process, the issuer is patient’s bank and it maintains a closer relationship with the cardholder, who is the patient. Tan (2004) notes that the acquirer, on the other hand is merchants bank and it maintains a closer relationship with the merchant, its corporate customer. When a patient uses Visa to pay for health services, the cardholder, merchant, AHCF, and an issuer all play a role. It is the merchant bank or the acquirer that reimburses the organization for healthcare services provided. The cardholder bank or issuer then reimburses the acquirer, usually within 24 to 48 hours. Finally, the issuer collects from the patient through billing from a prepaid account when Visa card is used (Tan, 2004).
How the Vendor will Benefit the Company
AHCF will benefit from timely payments. Treatment services in hospitals will be recorded in real time because payments through Visa cards and PayPal shopping cart are normally processed by a clearing house that contacts the bank that issued the card. The issuing bank then electronically transfers payments directly to AHCF bank account. By using Visa cards and PayPal shopping cart, AHCF will benefit by receiving payments within a few hours of making the credit card transaction (Tan, 2004).
How the Vendor Benefits the Customer
AHCF patients will benefit from using Visa cards and PayPal shopping cart in different ways. At a minimal fee, Visa card insurance ensures that the patient will not suffer a loss if the card is stolen. Tan (2004) says that patients will receive full statement of all transactions every month, which in turn will serve as a proof of payments for healthcare services received from AHCF. Visa cards and PayPal shopping cart grants patients the access to funds, which the holder is contractually obliged to repay at a later date after receiving treatment services from AHCF.
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