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Survey: Provider’s Web Efforts Lacking, Patients Say

August 6, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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While healthcare providers are mostly using the web to better serve patients, they still have work to do, according to a survey from e-commerce and online marketing vendor Kentico.

According to this new survey of approximately 1,000 adult Internet users, nearly three quarters (72 percent) of respondents feel that websites currently offered by healthcare providers could be more helpful. The top criticisms: inability to contact healthcare professionals via the user's preferred method of contact; difficulty finding the information they're looking for; and the inability to chat with a healthcare representative via the website in real time.

According to Kentico's survey, 65 percent of survey respondents decide on which healthcare providers to use based on their website at least part of the time. Three-quarters (73 percent) rely on online reviews, while nearly a third (31 percent) of survey respondents called such online reviews "very important." Meanwhile, 69 percent reported finding value from receiving emails or text messages from a healthcare provider. The appeal of being texted with appointment reminders, guidelines for upcoming tests, or other useful information apparently runs very high.

One big surprise came in the area of social media, according to the report. Social networks, in theory, give healthcare providers a forum through which to provide information. In practice however, 69 percent of patients surveyed don't consider a social media presence important for healthcare professionals—perhaps because of the desire to keep healthcare-related data confidential.

When asked to grade healthcare providers on how well they have embraced the web, over half of survey participants were tied between issuing a B (good) or C (fair) rating. When it came to healthcare's use of mobile to connect with patients, survey participants drifted more toward issuing a C rating.

What’s more, nearly one-third of survey respondents expressed some difficulty in accessing and navigating healthcare-related sites through a mobile device, while 43 percent said they typically visit healthcare-related websites via a desktop computer.

While patients put mobile text messaging with healthcare providers towards the top of the list of communication choices, only 19 percent report being able to communicate with providers this way—and 37 percent say they can't even reach providers via email.

"Using the web to communicate in regulated industries such as healthcare is challenging," Kentico CEO and founder Petr Palas said in a statement. "However, healthcare providers seem to have made significant strides in recent years in the use of the web to connect with patients in meaningful ways." Palas continued, "Patients are reacting positively to what they have seen so far, but clearly they want much more. The survey suggests that healthcare providers need to continue to adapt to the mobile, real-time habits of future generations."

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