Online medical websites are now more advanced, allowing patients to interact with one another, share experiences and hopefully make better decisions about health issues. Hospitals marketers should follow these. The benefits are that we learn what issues are important to the patient, how to speak their language, and how to better communicate our brand to them.
In a recent issue of the Washington Post, was an article about the many online health sites that have a presence in the Washington, DC area. A new one, WiserTogether, began when a couple got some troublesome news in the 12th week of her pregnancy-that there was a strong possibility she would deliver a baby with Down’s Syndrome. The husband, Shub Debgupta, started WiserTogether after they faced the decision of undergoing an invasive but highly accurate procedure that could spur a miscarriage or wait for an ultrasound that would not be risky but much less conclusive. WiserTogether addresses expectant parents’ issues that are pregnancy related.
Earlier sites, like WebMD, are more encyclopedic but newer ones like Inspire, PatientsLikeMe and CureTogether are more interactive and case-study oriented. Some, like Inspire, partner with associations that advocate for patients with various diseases. Sites generate revenue by selling research (without the personal information) to healthcare companies, by recruiting members for clinical trials conducted by pharmaceutical companies, custom searches and subscriptions with premium features.
In the end, the patient is involved in a dialogue….not with the physician…but with other patients facing a similar diagnosis. Hospital marketers should consider following the dialogue on these sites in order to better communicate with potential patients or better yet consider hosting a similar service in their market.