Doc websites often little more than bios, general info

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A majority of doctor websites contain little more than physician biographies and practice information, according to a recent analysis of 300 doctors in three U.S. cities.

The analysis, conducted by medical marketing firm Vanguard Communications, found that 99 (33 percent) of the doctors analyzed posted information on their websites for patients pertaining to medical conditions and treatments. Overall, 69 percent of all physicians surveyed actually had a website.

One-hundred doctors from Boston, Denver and Portland, Ore., participated in the survey. The doctors participating specialized either in orthopedics, urology or obstetrics/gynecology.

"Doctors in these cities are still using their websites primarily as electronic brochures about their practices rather than as online health resources," Vanguard CEO Ron Harman King said in an announcement. "Any doctor offering online health education engenders public trust, attracts a better informed patient and grows his practice."

While serving as a hospital marketing executive at Flint, Mich.-based Hurley Medical Center, Andrea Simon encountered similar issues, according to a recent Hospital Impact post. Simon, now a consultant, said that the hospital's site, which had been built in 2005, had served as "brochure-ware," and had "limited updates, few changes and no strategy for brand development or community building."

"People forget that the first place often seen by someone--whether patients, prospective residents or physicians, or community leaders--is the hospital's website, Facebook page or even blogs and Twitter," Simon wrote. "Search is what it's all about, and you need to be there when they are searching."

Out of roughly 81 percent of U.S. adults who say they use the Internet, 72 percent claim they have looked up health information online in the past year, according to research published last month by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. Of those, 59 percent say they have looked online specifically to figure out a medical condition for themselves or someone else.

To learn more:
- here are the survey results
- read the accompanying announcement

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