The recently published Internet Health Management Digital Hospital 500 report is an impressive evaluation of the 500 most digitally savvy hospitals in the United States. The report assesses hospitals’ digital maturity for 31 patient-facing features/functions such as appointment scheduling and patient records management. The report is also a fascinating insight into how patients use healthcare systems’ digital tools.

Patients are using healthcare systems’ websites to complete a wide variety of tasks, according to a survey that Internet Health Management conducted for the report. In fact, healthcare websites are work horses. Patients are using them to schedule appointments, find physicians, view test results, order/refill prescriptions, and checking billing/payment status, among many other functions. But do you know what the most popular website function is for patients? The answer is not finding medical information or managing personal health. It’s finding general information such as phone numbers, hours, and provider locations.

In fact, 65 percent of patients who had visited a healthcare system’s website in the past year did so to find general information, whereas only 7 percent wanted to get a copy of their medical records from a website, according to the report.

These findings underscore an important reality: healthcare providers need to build their patient access foundation off location data. That data includes:

  • Facility data, such as name, address, and phone number.
  • Provider data such as names of each provider and their areas of specialty.  

But for most healthcare systems, sharing accurate location data is not as easy as it sounds. Larger healthcare systems operate as complex campus environments, providing areas of specialty such as wellness care, neurosurgery, and orthopedic care. Each area might keep its own hours, and directions to the neurosurgery wing might be slightly different than those for the physical rehab care center. Furthermore, physicians affiliated with each network might keep their own hours and multiple locations.

Healthcare systems need to treat their location data as a competitive asset, systematically keeping data accurate, up to date, and formatted for the major publishers (such as Google) and data aggregators (such as Neustar). If the publishers and aggregators don’t possess your accurate longitudinal/latitudinal coordinates, patients using Apple Maps and Google Maps to find care will have an unhappy experience.

Check out The Digital Hospital 500 (available for purchase here) to understand the state of the art in providing patient access and engagement — and download the SIM Partners Healthcare Marketer’s Guide to Location Data Management (available for free here) to get smarter about managing your location data. Contact us. We’re here to help you.

Brian Westrick

Author Brian Westrick

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