Just about everything that happens inside of a hospital is up for public ranking and review these days, from how many heart-attack victims receive an aspirin to how often staff washes their hands to — gasp — the cost of services.
Now, a quality-control group is targeting health systems websites, a medium notorious for meaningless marketing bromides and vague promises of "cutting edge" health care with little actionable information.
Last week, the Leapfrog Group and the accreditation program URAC announced their 2013 "Hospital Website Transparency Awards," meant to publicize the hospitals that use their online presence for education and real quality information instead of marketing.
Here's the problem, which I touched on last month when the U.S. News and World Report rankings came out. Health care consumers and the government are compiling detailed performance, quality and financial data about hospitals at an unprecedented rate, as society tries to get more for less out of its family inefficient medical system.
But those terabytes of data — whether it be from Medicare, Leapfrog, your own insurer,business groups — are extraordinarily rare on most actual hospital websites. Instead, you're greeted with promotions of fancy equipment or prominent doctors, or glossy annual reports with virtually no real business information.
Do you think a hospital website you're familiar with is better than most? Nominate them for an award.
But in reality, the real issue is the hospitals that won't win an award. Erica Mobley, Leapfrog's senior manager of communications, told HealthLeaders Media, "We recognized the vast majority of hospitals really weren't doing anything on their websites to promote transparency…"
Ben Fischer covers health care and law.