Patient websites: a positive impact of customer service ratings

Patient websites: a positive impact of customer service ratings

There’s a very good article (with a bad headline: Patient-created Web sites carry risks, rewards for hospitals) in Modern Healthcare.

Communicating the details of a family member’s illness — or even one’s own — can be a grinding process involving repeating sensitive facts over and over again to different, well-meaning individuals who want to know the latest status of a friend or family member undergoing treatment. Just keeping everyone informed can be exhausting for patients, families and providers. Technology has stepped in to help spread the word.

There are now several companies –including CarePages, CaringBridge, and theStatus— that let patients and families create secure websites to convey this kind of information. Authorized users receive a username and password so they can access the information. It’s good for patients for the reasons described above. It’s good for nurses who don’t have to field so many calls from worried friends and relatives –and don’t have to worry about HIPAA breaches. And it’s helpful for those seeking information because they can get better information without having to call the hospital and endure long hold times (at best) or be treated rudely and receive wrong or no information at worst.

Hospitals are making these tools available because it improves patient satisfaction. And patient satisfaction is starting to matter more to hospitals now that CMS is planning to publish data from the H-CAHPS survey, which will allow people to compare hospitals with one another.

I haven’t worked with the systems, but a lot of what they offer is fairly generic, and not tied into the hospital’s data systems. Hospitals generally reserve the right to monitor the content of the pages (they seem worried about people making complaints) and of course they can seldom resist the temptation to throw some marketing information around. If I were a patient, I think I’d steer clear of a hospital-sponsored system unless it provided some clear advantages to make up for the lack of independence. But all in all I think these patient sites are a good thing.

August 30, 2006

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