Healthcare News & Insights

Study: Healthcare provider websites need improvement

Most patients use the Internet to look for health information. And that means healthcare providers’ websites need to be better than they are now, according to one recent study. 

The goal of any website is to present information to the visitor in way that’s accessible, easy to understand, and pleasing to the eye. However, many healthcare organizations are failing to do that as well as other popular consumer sites, according to a study published in a recent issue of the Journal of Healthcare Management.

Researchers looked at 636 physician and hospital websites and used an automated tool to grade them in categories such as accessibility, content, marketing features and technical aspects. The study saw significant room for improvement in several areas:

  1. Accessibility — All sites, especially those offering health information, need to be designed so they can be read by all people, including those with vision impairments and disabilities that make using a computer difficult, as well as those who lack computer skills. However, the study found that most healthcare sites lacked accessibility features, especially when compared to popular sites consumers visit often.
  2. Content — Healthcare is an advanced field, but the information on providers’ websites needs to be read by patients that aren’t medical experts. However, the study found that many healthcare websites were heavy on jargon and acronyms and were written in ways more suited to medical students than the average patient.
  3. SEO — In cases where patients have a choice about where to get care, most of them use the Internet to help their decisions. That’s why providers need to make sure their sites are easily found on search engines. But according to the study, many provider sites lack features that help search engine optimization (SEO).
  4. Tech issues — Unreliable or slow websites can give visitors a low opinion about an organization’s quality, so sites should be well designed from a technical standpoint. The study found a wide range of performance in this area, with many sites scoring well but many others with technical problems.

The good news: The study’s authors noted that in general, healthcare websites had improved compared to last year. Researchers recommend organizations continue to make improvements. Most adults use the Internet to look for health information, so having a well designed site will help providers attract more patients and increase revenue.

What’s an example of an accessible, easy-to-use and reliable website? The study gave its highest ranking to the Arizona Cancer Center.

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