ST. LOUIS, April 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Many of America's top-ranked "best hospitals" lag in extending their healthcare expertise beyond the walls of the hospital and into the online world where patients are increasingly seeking information, according to an analysis released today.
The first-of-its-kind report, "The Digital Health of Today's Best Hospitals," evaluated the online presence and patient use of digital assets offered by the nation's top hospitals, as identified by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals 2013-14 publication.
The analysis, released by Evolve Digital Labs, reveals that top hospitals lag behind most other digital sources – such as third parties and industry – when it comes to helping a patient manage his/her health. Overall, many website features to serve patients were found to be "inadequate" for some of the leading institutions including:
- Almost half of hospitals studied lack a mobile-patient website (49 percent)
- 67 percent fail to offer online rehabilitation and aftercare information
- Only 1 in 5 has online pre-registration to reduce patient wait time
- Nearly one in three fails to facilitate online bill pay
- At least 18% have on-site errors that hinder the patient experience
- Nearly 1 out of 2 hospitals does not support post-prescription refill requests online
"As more consumers consult online channels to better understand their health conditions, hospitals need to keep up with their end of the digital connection of care with patients," said Derek Mabie, president of Evolve Digital Labs. "While efforts such as the Affordable Care Act seek to incentivize hospitals to improve health outcomes, one of the greatest untapped opportunities to help providers succeed is the role digital can play in providing better patient care and outcomes."
Barriers that prevent hospitals from maximizing use of digital for patient care include: concerns regarding regulation of digital content; lack of clinical oversight of published content leading to inadequate sources of information for patients; a hospital's lack of investment in digital and a lack of understanding of the value or return on investment that digital can play in enhancing patient outcomes; inefficient internal systems and processes; and an emphasis on legacy business methods that are not adapting/changing fast enough to deliver to patients the digital innovation available today.
While many hospitals have room to improve their online health information, the study also uncovered commonalities among those hospitals receiving high marks for digital prowess such as the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. In addition to a clear commitment to patients "digital health" built into the values of the institution, many of these institutions:
- Serve Patient Needs Beyond the Hospital Walls -They have a clear understanding of the patient needs, types, and disease segments and associated online behavior; these hospitals create digital assets that make stronger digital connections with patients and provide them with virtual hospital expertise and influence along their digital health path to complement and supplement care.
- Drive Digital Governance Across the Entire Organization/Internal Communications - Hospitals with the right digital tools invest in a "framework for digital collaboration" which includes coordination between clinicians, IT and marketing. These institutions strategically invest in online care just as they are investing in research and testing equipment.
- Provide a Platform to Deliver Expertise - Those rated "digitally proficient" provide patient-friendly online tools and resources that realistically meet patient, caregiver and physician needs. In addition, they publish content that address both clinical and lifestyle concerns. While most clinicians and hospital experts publish traditional content for medical journals and other professional sources, more patients could benefit if clinicians would also generate digital content that can be updated regularly to match changing patient experiences.
"A visit to the hospital today is now far more than just treating an immediate health problem; providers must advise the patient about lifestyle changes that could reduce future health risks and diseases," Mabie says. "The right digital tools will allow institutions to more easily adapt to the changing needs of patients and new requirements of hospitals to address population health."
The "Digital Health of Today's Best Hospitals" study methodology incorporated use of several leading search analysis tools and social media tracking to calculate the patient "reach" of the hospital's website via traffic, domain and page authority, linking domains and inbound links recommended via other sources. Key search criteria included terms for all 16 health specializations for which the "best" hospitals are ranked nationally and how often these were utilized on a monthly basis. The study analyzed 57 national hospitals from January 2013-January 2014.
Evolve Digital Labs, based in St. Louis, MO, is an online customer acquisition firm that provides leading healthcare and B2B brands with data analysis and strategies on customer search and digital behavior. Clients include: SSM Health Care, Cardinal Glennon, Elsevier DirectCourse, Elsevier InOrder, Elsevier ICD-10, St. Louis Fetal Care Institute and The Infertility Center of St. Louis, Lake Health. For more information, please visit www.evolvedigitallabs.com.
CONTACT: Morgan Wallace (347) 266-1920
SOURCE Evolve Digital Labs