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It's Judgment Day for Hospital Websites

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, August 22, 2013

3. Credibility

  • Does the website list at least one author, editor or reviewer to assure medical information is up-to-date and consistent with evidence and standards of practice?
  • Does the website include references for its content
  • Does the website explicitly state its purpose, goal, or mission?
  • Is the date of the site's last update displayed, so viewers know it is current?

4. Literacy

  • Is more than half of the information o the site at or below an 8th grade reading level?
  • If acronyms, jargon, or abbreviations, are used, are they defined?
  • Is there a glossary or index of terms?

5. Connectivity

  • Does the site include a phone number or e-mail address for viewers to contact the hospital?
  • Does the site have a link to telephone numbers for various departments and physicians?
  • Does the site have information to help viewers select an appropriate provider?
  • Does the site provide information on specific medical conditions and their treatments? For example, Northwestern Memorial Hospital includes overview information on various diseases and lists of specialists, clinical trials and quality data, as well as podcasts on related topics.
  • Can users access the web page from a mobile device?

As I look over these questions, I can see a few more I'd include to gauge the quality of a hospital website. At the top of the list would be this:

Does the site prohibit the use of models posing as providers and happy patients?

Glad I got that off my chest.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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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 :-) :-)