Digital Health Libraries Drive Hospital Web Traffic

U.S.-based marketing agency Boston Digital recently reported on how American hospitals are competing to become consumers’ go-to for digital health information.

“When analyzing the digital performance of America’s top 20 hospitals, it’s clear that the healthcare providers who offer their online users a comprehensive, original library of health topics like diseases and conditions are winning their fair share of a very substantial pie.”

Chevalier, P. (2021). America’s Hospitals Have a Choice. Boston Digital.

In Canada, hospitals are not always considered the top source for public health information. The University Health Network has a robust patient portal that provides access to education resources, medical dictionaries and other helpful health information websites, designed for registered patients and not publicly available. Otherwise, most health libraries in Canada provide in-depth reference and research services specifically to physicians and staff.

Hospitals where health information content earns 70% or more of their total search traffic also earn on average ~10 times more search traffic than hospitals where health content accounts for a smaller share of the total. Put another way, hospital sites with comprehensive health content libraries are earning exponentially more traffic than those without them.

Chevalier, P. (2021). America’s Hospitals Have a Choice. Boston Digital.

The three leading hospital web sites are Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Hopkins Medicine. They all meet key criteria for attracting search traffic with quality health library content:

  • It’s comprehensive (both as a library and within each page of content).
  • It’s original (they wrote it, and didn’t source it from a third party).
  • It lives on the hospital’s top-level domain, or TLD (where authority can be maximized).

The trend we see in the U.S., where hospitals are producing publicly accessible health content for consumers, is an exciting opportunity for health libraries. In addition to publishing authoritative health information as a valuable public service, health library content has the ability to strengthen their hospital’s reputation, reach and name recognition.

America’s hospitals have a choice: Compete in the health information war, or lose.
Researched and written by Philip Chevalier, Director of Strategy and Research, Boston Digital

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