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Healthier Web Sites For All
Site satisfaction calls for improvement as customers increasingly look online for information about their health.
Posted Dec 21, 2009
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In response to the rising debate about healthcare issues in the United States and a noticeable increase in clients from the industry, ForeSee Results recently released its first Healthcare Satisfaction Benchmark study. Using the methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), ForeSee Results measured the satisfaction of more than 30 Web sites based on the survey responses of nearly 40,000 visitors. Based on a 100-point scale, the overall industry scored a 75 (scores 80 and above are considered "excellent"), which pleasantly surprised Larry Freed, president and chief executive officer of ForeSee Results.

The study identified four different healthcare institutions, which received the following aggregate scores:

  • government healthcare sites...............79;
  • pharmaceutical sites........................78;
  • hospital sites.................................73; and
  • health insurance sites....................... 64.

"We started thinking about what role Web sites play in [the industry]," Freed says. "[There's] potential for them to have a significant impact on improving the quality of healthcare and also lowering the cost." In other words, as more content populates the healthcare Web sites, the more reliable resources consumers have at their disposal, and in turn, the more educated they become. Whether it's being able to better understand the symptoms of an illness, the details of an insurance plan, or knowing which doctors or hospitals are best, Freed contends that the more involved consumers are, the better their healthcare will be.

Consumers are looking more precise, easy to locate, and comprehensible information, particularly on the insurance side. Freed was very surprised to see that the scores in the insurance industry ranged from a shockingly low 42 to an overwhelming 86-which, he points out, matches the caliber of online moguls Google and Amazon. Even so, Freed admits he was surprised by their low performance, especially since it's largely a transaction-based business. There's huge call centers supporting them, he says, which translates into huge opportunities for cost savings.

The high performance of the government healthcare sites was expected, Freed says, primarily because government sites are considered more reliable and have a higher trust factor, compared to say, the myriad blogs and Web sites floating around on the Internet.

Healthcare companies, Freed says, haven't historically looked at the Web as a valuable asset to their business, a perception that's quickly changing now. Even if companies are currently disregarding their Web sites, their consumers are looking for them there, which means they've got to make themselves found. According to the report, Web visitors that reported a satisfaction score of 80 and higher, compared to less-satisfied visitors, were:

  • 139 percent more likely to return to a Web site;
  • 169 percent more likely to recommend the Web site; and
  • 153 percent more likely to use the Web site as their primary resource for interacting with a healthcare organization, instead of more costly channels like call centers or visiting office locations.

Though Freed commends the Web sites that are performing well (since this was a study commissioned by ForeSee's clients, company names have been removed), he says he has the most respect for those that are doing it poorly. "You can't improve what you don't measure," he says, building off of the classic marketing adage, "you can't manage what you can't measure." By taking the initiative to understand what customers are saying, these organizations are making moves to better their Web resources, thereby increasing overall customer satisfaction.  

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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