"We recognized that the vast majority of hospitals weren't really doing anything on their websites to promote transparency, but some hospitals were doing an outstanding job," says Erica Mobley, Leapfrog Group's senior manager of communications.
"We wanted to formally recognize these hospitals in a way that would not only draw attention to them, but help other hospitals recognize that this is the kind of transparency consumers expect, and what they should be stepping up to do as well."
Adds Jane Webster, URAC's senior vice president of research and development: "Today, the range of information on these websites is huge, from very good information to that which isn't very relevant."
Rather than conveying useful information, Webster adds, the material on hospital websites "is more of a marketing message and lacks information to substantiate the claims they're making. Hospitals really need to move the bar up, put more facts behind the statements they're making," she says.
It's important for hospitals to understand that payers and patients think this is extremely important, Mobley says. "I don't think that when someone has a heart attack, they're going to rush right over to check out some hospital websites. But it's our hope that when it's a planned procedure or there's an opportunity to make a decision… they'll look at hospital websites."
Many within the healthcare industry are increasingly fed up with how meaningless marketing strategies seem to have taken over hospital websites, often in bad taste. In her column for The Health Care Blog last April, Joanne Conroy, MD, Chief Health Care Officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, asked "Can We Put the Hospital Marketing Genie Back in the Bottle?"