Ann Arbor-based ForeSee Results Monday announced that in its third annual health care benchmark, Web sites for pharmaceuticals and medical products top the list in terms of customer satisfaction.

Hospital Web sites also greatly outperform the websites of health insurance companies.

On the ForeSee Results benchmark’s 100-point scale, pharmaceutical Web sites received an aggregate score of 79, while hospitals scored a 77, and health insurance Web sites received an aggregate score of 51.

ForeSee Results’ healthcare benchmark is composed of satisfaction scores for browsers on more than 50 different kinds of private- and public-sector health care Web sites including hospital, insurance, government, pharmaceutical, and consumer sites like Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas, the Department of Health and Human Services, GlaxoSmithKline, the NIH, the National Cancer Institute, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Proctor & Gamble and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 

The published health care benchmark includes more than 80,000 completed customer surveys during August and September of this year.

“The online channel can provide customers with better quality information and lower costs without compromising the quality of service, and it can do it with or without major legislation and reform.” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results.

With an aggregate score of 79 on the benchmark’s 100-point scale, Web sites for healthcare products and pharmaceuticals scored the highest overall satisfaction for all types of healthcare categories measured. The score of 79 is an aggregate of the individual companies’ measured scores, which ranged from 70-85 (80 is generally considered the threshold for excellence).

The benchmark for hospitals and health systems is also at a relatively high level of 77, compared to many non-healthcare benchmarks ForeSee Results monitors. Hospital Web sites included in the benchmark have scores ranging from 62 to 88, a 26-point spread.

Health insurance Web sites, with an aggregate score of 51, came in last among the measured healthcare categories. However, many health insurance sites are doing very well with scores in the 70’s, but lower scoring sites bring the aggregate down. The measured health insurance Web sites ranged from 34 to 74, a huge 40-point gap, indicating an industry without a clear set of best online practices and a lot of maturing to do.

The Department of Defense’s Tricare health insurance Web site is one of the highest-scoring insurance Web sites. 

“Through measuring customer satisfaction on the our Web site and by understanding what our users are looking for, we can deliver tailored information to our beneficiaries based on who they are, where they live, and what Tricare plan they use,” said Chris Molieri of Tricare. “Our goal is to exceed our customer’s expectations by quickly providing them with the information they need to make informed healthcare decisions. The customer satisfaction analysis helped make this possible and we continue to use it to build on our success.”

ForeSee Results applies the methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index to help organizations understand how improvements to specific aspects of the online experience, such as navigation and site performance, will positively affect overall satisfaction, likelihood to do business with the organization, and loyalty. Inside knowledge into customers’ and site browsers’ likely future behaviors empowers organizations to prioritize site enhancements and allocate resources efficiently. 

“Because the online survey exists on so many health-related Web sites, we get invaluable business intelligence and performance benchmarking,” said Gerri Michael-Dyer with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “This provides us with real-time customer feedback on where our sites are doing well and where improvement is needed. Recommendations coupled with usability reviews also contribute to effective redesign efforts.”

Perhaps the most dramatic proof that healthcare Web sites can and should be focusing on customer satisfaction in a down economy comes from benchmark statistics about future behaviors. When compared to less satisfied visitors, highly satisfied visitors to a healthcare information website report being:

* 123 percent more likely to return to a Web site
* 137 percent more likely to recommend the Web site
* 113 percent more likely to use the Web site as their primary resource for interacting with a health care organization, instead of using more costly channels like call centers or office locations.

“It just makes good business sense to satisfy your customers,” said Freed. “Since health care is an industry that is doing a lot of great work related to the online customer experience, the benchmarks are robust and it’s really easy to get a sense of where you stand compared to your peers.”

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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