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Hospitals and Health Systems: Audit Your Digital Presence

06.20.2012 / Posted in Articles, Image Management, Strategy

Brace yourselves, senior health care executives: Look at the way today’s population interacts with organizations and accesses information:

  • By 2015, Morgan Stanley estimates that 50 percent of Web traffic will come through mobile devices.
  • Today, more than 2/3 of the world’s population has mobile phones, according to Google.
  • In 2010, Google determined that social media is the most popular on-line activity, with one out of every six minutes spent on-line spent on a social network.

Head spinning? It should be. This is a rapid shift in only a very few years. Many hospital and health system administrators can hark back to a day when their institution didn’t have a Web site. Or, if it did, it was a few pages with some basic information.

Minimal or lacking online presences won’t suffice today. This digitally savvy population is highly demanding when it comes to hospitals and health systems online:

  • 41 percent of adults use the Internet to research hospitals, more than any other resource.
  • 76 percent of adults go directly to the hospital Web site for information, 62 percent use a search engine, and only 56 percent use a health Web site.

Increased Digital Capabilities = Improved Patient Care

Hospitals and health systems are continually behind the curve of rapidly advancing Web technology, and they’re missing many opportunities. Incorporating advancements in digital, online, and multimedia technologies can

  • help people shape their medical care;
  • empower people to take charge of their recovery/conditions;
  • provide information and guidance to patients and families;
  • improve the hospital experience, including the ever-important wayfinding issue;
  • increase a hospital or health system’s personal touch with patients, families, and visitors;
  • make paying bills easier for patients;
  • increase the ease of acquiring patient information; and
  • more.

Health care consumers perceive robust, responsive on-line presence from hospitals and health systems as critical to their patient experiences. And research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that the nonclinical experience is twice as important as the hospital’s clinical reputation, and that one third of general practitioners would refer patients to hospitals that had inferior clinical care and a superior nonclinical experience.

Reduced Readmission Rates and Lowered Costs

Not only do these benefits improve the patient experience and thereby attract health care consumers, they also significantly affect readmission rates:

  • An article in the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management stated,“By systematically measuring patient satisfaction and perceptions of quality, medical practices can increase the effectiveness of primary care, improve patient outcomes, and control costs.”
  • A study from the UK’s National Health Service found that “patients who are well informed and feel comfortable in their surroundings tend to be less prone to complications and subsequent readmission to hospital.”
  • A study on readmission rates and patient satisfaction published in The American Journal of Managed Care found that “higher hospital-level patient satisfaction scores (overall and for discharge planning) were independently associated with lower thirty-day readmission rates. […] These improvements were between 1.6 and 4.9 times higher than those for the three clinical performance measures.”

So it makes sense that over 88 percent of senior health care leaders in a HealthLeaders Media study said that patient experience is among their top five priorities. And it’s surprising that more hospital and health systems aren’t looking more closely at how their organizations serve health care consumers online.

FrogDog to the Rescue

FrogDog can help. Smart hospitals and health systems will perform audits of their current on-line and digital offerings against today’s possibilities and against what would be idea for their target patient mixes. With this gap analysis, they can build effective, efficient, targeted, and measurable plans to bridge the gaps. Contact us for more information.

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