The increasingly competitive environment is having a strong bearing on the strategic marketing practices of hospitals. The Internet is a fairly new marketing tool, and it has the potential to dramatically influence healthcare consumers. This exploratory study investigates how hospitals use the Internet as a tool to market the quality of their services.
Significant evidence exists that customers use the Internet to find information about potential healthcare providers, including information concerning quality. Data were collected from a random sample of 45 U.S. hospitals from the American Hospital Association database. The data included hospital affiliation, number of staffed beds, accreditation status, Joint Commission quality awards, and number of competing hospitals. The study's findings show that system-affiliated hospitals do not provide more, or less, quality information on their websites than do non-systemaffiliated hospitals.
The findings suggest that the amount of quality information provided on a hospital website is not dependent on hospital size. Research provides evidence that hospitals with more Joint Commission awards promote their quality accomplishments more so than their counterparts that earned fewer Joint Commission awards. The findings also suggest that the more competitors in a marketplace the more likely a hospital is to promote its quality as a potential differential advantage. The study's findings indicate that a necessary element of any hospital's competitive strategy should be to include the marketing of its quality on the organization's website.