Healthgrades recently released its American Hospital Quality Report for 2013 (PDF), which focuses on performance for thousands of hospitals nationwide. The research has shown healthcare consumers need to become more informed before selecting their healthcare provider. Healthgrades encourages healthcare consumers to spend more time researching, especially when more than 90% of Americans think that choosing a physician or hospital is at the top of the list of significant life decisions. In fact, selecting a physician ranks second only to selecting a spouse for most Americans when ranking 8 key relationships, according to another Healthgrades study. Hospitals have the opportunity to become the main research source for healthcare consumers. Hospital websites can become the information hub to address healthcare consumers’ concerns. So how do you know if your hospital’s website has all of the content consumers need to make this significant life decision?
Healthgrades’ report outlined the following as steps to become a more informed healthcare consumer:
1) Access healthcare quality information and learn about how well doctors and hospitals treat other patients.
Create content showcasing doctors’ experience, education and personality. This helps put a face to your healthcare organization and can be the start of building patient relationships. An example of this would be a ‘doctor spotlight’ with a video interview or a monthly blog post. Or you can display doctor profiles so people will know details and credentials about a doctor before going to your hospital; these should include pictures and contact information. Patient testimonials/stories are another great way to establish trust among prospective patients who may have similar health situations.
2) Collect information about a specific hospital’s performance on conditions and procedures that apply to you.
Specific conditions your hospital specializes in should have their own information hub with content dedicated to addressing questions and keeping up-to-date on news. Most importantly, this information should be very easy to access on your site and fully optimized.
3) Research specific hospitals and physicians.
When 61% of prospective patients visit 2+ hospital sites before they convert, your hospital’s website should have a variety of resources and valuable information important to their research can increase time spent onsite and build a stronger relationship with the prospective patients.
4) Learn about important quality measures
Give researchers numbers, if at all possible. Or provide easy-to-find links to sites like HealthGrades that help them validate their decision to select your hospital. Your site should act as an interpreter – explain terminology and what to expect. A detailed, yet simple health/hospital “dictionary” is a good place to start.
5) Know how to stay as healthy and informed as possible
Prospective and current patients want to use your site as a way to be aware of emergencies like flu outbreaks and drug recalls. Your blog and social media channels can easily deliver timely reminders, health tips and seasonal content.
One thing to add to this list is continuing online interaction even after the patient books and attends an appointment. One kind of ongoing digital communication Fathom offers for hospitals is its Healthy eNews email newsletter offering.
The report also mentions that only half of Americans feel they have made the right choice when selecting a doctor or hospital. Reassure your patients they made the right choice or convince future patients of your superiority over competitors (if they haven’t yet chosen you) . Build a personal relationship with them based on trust and transparency.
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