Monday, September 7

Diagnosing Medical: Where Las Vegas Hospitals Miss

With more than 80 percent of all patients looking for medical advice online, up 31 percent from two years ago, one might conclude the medical community would be among the most likely and best suited to provide medical information online. But based on a cursory study commissioned last July, we found the majority of hospitals in the Las Vegas metropolitan area are absent.

Instead, area hospitals seem to be mostly reliant on traditional push marketing, with an emphasis on proximity. In fact, only one of 11 hospitals is experimenting with social media, and that one hospital has a program than can best be described as confused. They launched it, but don't know what to do with it.

From a broad perspective, the apparent absence of the Las Vegas medical community online is creating a deficit against any ROI on traditional communication. Specifically, they cannot spend enough offline or benefit from enough earned media to offset the growing negative impressions related to each hospital nor the Las Vegas metropolitan area as a whole.

Five Specific Consequences For Online Absenteeism

• It drives the general public to consult other medical opinions that primarily consist of two types: moderated forums, which provide opinions from medial experts (guest authors with widely varying degrees of vetted and unvetted experience); and unmoderated forums and bulletin boards where visitors share their experiences and provide patient-to-patient support and consult.

• It creates a disproportionate amount of negative impressions online, resulting in long-term brand damage. Specifically, one hospital earned 10 negative reviews and no positive reviews in a 90-day period, and all hospitals received more negative than positive reviews.

• It impacts the entire medical community, with jokes being made by neighboring markets. In one case, a medical professional in a neighboring market joked that they place bets on how many Las Vegas residents would fly in for second opinions and/or primary consult because of their general distrust of area expertise.

• It hinders the community's ability to recruit quality nurses and attract medical practitioners as potential employees are more likely to find negative reviews, commentary, and conversations that place a consistent emphasis on staff shortages, unfriendly medical staff, long waits in emergency rooms, and lack of medical expertise.

• It hinders the ability to find area hospital Web sites, which are most often designed as unsearchable modulated sites with an emphasis on the wrong messages. Specifically, area hospitals talk more about their vision, values, associations, accreditations, and awards than they do about the care they provide or any medical expertise. In sum, they address issues that customers are least likely to search for when they are considering a hospital.

Current Traffic And Traditional/New Media

As part of the report, we ranked area hospitals in terms of total Web traffic (provided below), but even more interesting, research revealed that most site visitation lasted between 1.8 and 4.4 minutes (2.5 minutes was the medium) and many missed their primary demographics.

In addition, most were not frequently mentioned by mainstream media or social media, with exception to recruitment (e.g., openings), standard news (e.g., promotions), event news (e.g., union disputes), and negative patient reviews. None of those mentions linked back to the hospital's Web site, leaving each hospital with a neutral to negative public sentiment.

1. St. Rose Dominican, ranked 6th in social media/media mentions
2. Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center, not ranked in social media/media mentions
3. University Medical Center, ranked 5th in social media/media mentions
4. MountainView Hospital, ranked 7th in social media/media mentions
5. Desert Springs Hospital, ranked 1st in social media/media mentions
6. Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, ranked 4th in social media/media mentions
7. Valley Hospital Medical Center, ranked 2nd in social media/media mentions
8. Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center, not ranked in social media/media mentions
9. North Vista Hospital, not ranked in social media/media mentions
10. Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center, not ranked in social media/media mentions
11. Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center, ranked 3rd in social media/media mentions

A Solution That Moves Beyond Hospitals In Las Vegas Market

Whether hospitals are unwilling or unable to implement online communication programs (or benefit from effective public relations) is less important than what it might mean for the area medical community. Currently, area hospitals tend to set the pace for perception. However, any number of professionals could shift online conversations and information away from the hospitals and toward their areas of specialty.

Quick care centers, medical specialists, and other practitioners could implement social media programs that help fill the growing need for medical information online while minimizing the apparent communication deficit being created by hospitals. Over time, even without the support of area hospitals, the market could begin to reverse its medical reputation, assuming the best professionals pursue the opportunity.

Beyond the medical community, such cursory research reaffirms how social media still has an impact even if companies within a sector or industry do not develop a program. As long as the general public seeks out information online, it determines who they receive information from, what type of information they receive, and the quality of the opinions they formulate.

The cursory report is available upon request. Breakdowns of each area hospital are also available with lead time.


Medical Aesthetics Job Search on 10/4/09, 6:21 AM said...

I think that the pharmaceutical companies and the hospitals have lost the faith of the people. With so much scandal going around these days and the growing malpractice stories in the media, there is no way for the patients to really get a firm grasp on who or where is a safe place to be treated. No one even cares to hear the word "treatment" anymore. Hospital and doctor bills are already expensive enough. Who wants to just be "TREATED" for those prices?

Rich on 10/6/09, 8:01 AM said...


There may be some truth to that. However, in any industry that is mistrusted as a whole, organizations with outreach programs tend to earn trust that distinguishes them from the rest of the industry.

For example, if you will be treated at John Hopkins or the Mayo Clinic, your level of trust is likely to be significantly higher. Both have social media programs.

There are some areas where local hospitals do as well, and their public perception is significantly higher. In such cases, price isn't the primary concern; patients just want a chance to get better.


Joseph on 2/26/14, 11:42 AM said...

Great article! Thank you.


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