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Hospital Website Smackdown: Mayo Clinic versus Cleveland Clinic

Posted Feb 02 2012 12:00am

I knew that this time would ultimately arrive but we appear to be there now. Two prestigious hospitals are being compared on the basis of the quality of their web sites. A recent article posits a web site smackdown between Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic (see: Website Smackdown: Mayo Clinic vs. Cleveland Clinic ). Following is an excerpt of the article:

 In this week's Website Smackdown, I’m taking a look at the websites for two of the biggest hospital complexes in the world, the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic....The Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic rank neck and neck (third and fourth respectively) on US News & World Report’s Honor Roll of Best Hospitals, but there’s a huge difference in the quality of their websites.

(1) Most people coming to the website for a major hospital have health-related questions, require immediate need for a doctor, or need information about visiting (directions, visiting hours, etc.). Just as hospitals are in the business of patient care, their websites should reflect that same level of care for site visitors....(2) Now take a look how each site handles the critical area of “Health Information.”....(3) Finally, let’s look at one more service provided by both websites: Find a Doctor....

So what can you learn from these hospital websites?

  • Know your target audience and know why they are coming to your site.
  • Prioritize your navigation to serve the biggest needs of your visitors.
  • Make sure you have powerful calls to action and prominent contact information.
  • Emphasize customer service!    

In order not to keep you in suspense if you have not read the original article, the Cleveland Clinic has won this particular competition in the three stated categories. The author of the note supports his conclusion with screen-cap images of the web pages for the two hospitals. The secret of the quality of the Cleveland Clinic web site does not involve any magic and is based on the bulleted points listed at the end of the excerpt above: (1) understand the mind of the patient; (2) prioritize web site navigation;  and (3) emphasize contact information and customer service.

Hmmm. Trying to understand the mind of the patient browsing a hospital web site. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it? However, I suspect that this might be a difficult task for some hospital executives and healthcare professionals such as nurses and doctors. The reason for this: many of us are so immersed in our professional disciplines and the complexities of healthcare delivery that it's hard to think as patients do.

Let me give you one practical example of this. Many years ago, I discovered that a prestigious hospital had located its neurology clinic next to its neurosurgery clinic and its cardiology clinic next to its cardiac surgery clinic. Wait a minute! That makes no sense. The specialties of cardiology and neurology are part of internal medicine -- they belong on the internal medicine floor of the clinic building, don't they. This clinic design approach makes sense to patients who tend to think more about organ systems and not the way that medical disciplines have evolved and are organized.

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