Us! Us! Us!

While doing some research today for a project on the use of persuasive advertising messages by hospitals in patient success stories (that’s a working description, I’ll work to make it a bit more succinct) mixed in with my daily blog reading I came across this post by the always thought provoking Tom Peters (a business idol of mine, as well as an inspiration/influence on my writing style). My enemy is me. Our organization’s enemy is our organization. As Mr. Peters quotes Mr. Walt Kelly “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Combine these two serendipitous moments with my earlier post about the patient-is-first focus in today’s hospitals and is/will continue to be the rallying/battle cry for our health services organizations…and I came up with a little far-from-scientific experiment/information-gathering-session.

You can very subjectively do this (I did it, so you don’t have to): Visit US News and World Report’s Best Hospitals 2007 Honor Roll. Then visit every hospital’s website on that list to see what the first clickable link is. (I didn’t explore the mission/vision/values/raison d’etre, but let’s assume (reasonable assumption) that these 18 hospitals rank patient care pretty high on the list of importance.)

Here’s what I found to be the first clickable link on the websites:

About Us: 9 hospitals
Medical Specialties: 4 hospitals
Appointments: 2 hospitals
Find a Physician: 2 hospitals
Patient-Centered Advertisement: 1 hospital

An argument could reasonably be made that only five of eighteen hospitals directly target patients with their first link on their website. What does that mean? The majority of honor roll hospital websites are more concerned with telling the world about themselves (US! US! US!) then a potential patient’s first interaction with the health system. Most of the hospitals (they are all huge) on this list are academic medical centers (meaning complicated campuses) and many of us can imagine our grandparents’ struggles with navigating the many buildings–one of only many foreseeable issues with a first visit (there are so many more opportunities for website improvement, use the comments section to add your thoughts).

My point: if you are reading this blog, the importance of websites as a marketing tool needn’t be expressed. Let’s fully commit to making patient experience with our health systems the most important aspect of our organization’s existence, starting with a hospital website fully dedicated to the patient.

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