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It's Judgment Day for Hospital Websites

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 22, 2013

"We recognized that the vast majority of hospitals weren't really doing anything on their websites to promote transparency, but some hospitals were doing an outstanding job," says Erica Mobley, Leapfrog Group's senior manager of communications.

"We wanted to formally recognize these hospitals in a way that would not only draw attention to them, but help other hospitals recognize that this is the kind of transparency consumers expect, and what they should be stepping up to do as well."

Adds Jane Webster, URAC's senior vice president of research and development: "Today, the range of information on these websites is huge, from very good information to that which isn't very relevant."

Rather than conveying useful information, Webster adds, the material on hospital websites "is more of a marketing message and lacks information to substantiate the claims they're making. Hospitals really need to move the bar up, put more facts behind the statements they're making," she says.

It's important for hospitals to understand that payers and patients think this is extremely important, Mobley says. "I don't think that when someone has a heart attack, they're going to rush right over to check out some hospital websites. But it's our hope that when it's a planned procedure or there's an opportunity to make a decision… they'll look at hospital websites."

Many within the healthcare industry are increasingly fed up with how meaningless marketing strategies seem to have taken over hospital websites, often in bad taste. In her column for The Health Care Blog last April, Joanne Conroy, MD, Chief Health Care Officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, asked "Can We Put the Hospital Marketing Genie Back in the Bottle?"

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3 comments on "It's Judgment Day for Hospital Websites"


Daniel Fell (10/9/2013 at 10:51 AM)
The Leapfrog Group has done some great work on patient safety and reducing medical errors in my opinion but this rating program could be greatly improved. Hardly any of the criteria really relate to the quality of hospital quality data itself. It's more of a general web site rating (of which there are several out there including the e-Healthcare Leadership Awards that I help judge every year). Where are the specifics regarding sources of data, use of internal quality data, consumer friendly explanations of quality metrics, physician level data, use of infographics, etc.? Less than 20% of the criteria even deal with the quality data. That said, we've been tracking healthcare ratings and rankings trends for the last decade and it's surprising ow slow hospitals have been to push this content out to referral sources and patients. So kudos to Leapfrog for drawing more attention to the issue.

Laurie (8/27/2013 at 4:28 PM)
It's no surprise that they are under review. Technology helps patients better educate themselves so they can make better healthcare choices. I see a lot of providers who are embracing technology in their practice with cloud PACS are also putting the effort into updating their website and other online identities where they could be held liable.

Danny Long (8/22/2013 at 3:14 PM)
Oh my Cheryl Clark, I so love your get to the point articles! One, if not my favorite writers! Danny and Shelly :-) :-)