Monday, May 23, 2011

New report says Canadian Hospitals failing to use power of the web to full advantage

Canadian hospitals are failing to give the public the information they want online. That’s the conclusion of a new white paper called Page Not Found: Canadian Hospitals and Their Websites.

 
The report was created by the Non-Profit Marketer, Canada’s leading not-for-profit marketing and communications blog, and published by JohnSuart.Com, a Kingston, Ontario third sector marketing agency.

 
Page Not Found: Canadian Hospitals and Their Website, which brings together several sources along with first-hand experience in the Canadian health care sector, concludes that while Canadians are increasingly going online to get health information, the websites of many hospitals do not meet basic standards.

 
“There are a variety of hospitals across Canada and an equal variety of websites. Some, especially at larger institutions, are state-of-the-art platforms. However, at medium-sized and smaller hospitals it is a different story. While there is not hard data on website capabilities at Canadian hospitals, it is well known that hospitals as a group have some of the worst websites in the public sector,” the report says.

 
A recent visit to hospital websites across Ontario found a number of common problems, including:
  • Poor overall content.
  • Lack of updating to a point where in some cases information is years out of date.
  • Poor navigation that makes it hard to find key information quickly.
  • Poor integration with social media or, in many cases, no social media at all.
  • No use of email newsletters or other devices to talk to target audiences directly.
  • Reliance on online PDF versions of print materials, which are often hard to download because of mismanaged file sizes.

Facebook is a good example. At many Ontario hospitals, staff are not allowed to go on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube from a workplace computer. In order to start a Foundation Facebook page staff working for one hospital in Ontario had to request access in writing from the head of IT. It took more than a week, and even then parts of Facebook continued to be blocked, preventing them from uploading any pictures. The hospital’s attitude was that social media was a “waste” of time and only personal benefit could come from it.

 
“This flies in the face of everything we know about social media and its use,” the report concludes.

 
The report also reviews the latest information about the growing use of online health information. The Social Life of Health Information, a 2011 report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, found that while doctors, nurses, and other health professionals continue to be the first choice for people with health concerns, online resources, including advice from peers, are a significant and growing source of health information in the US. For example, 36% of adults have gone online to gather information on hospitals or other medical facilities.

 
Page Not Found: Canadian Hospitals and Their Websites makes several recommendations, including calling on hospitals to set new web standards and embrace social media. It also calls on senior hospital leadership to take a more active part in their websites and content creation.

 
The report is available online for free at www.johnsuart.com.

 

 
 

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