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Press - Nashville Journal 2007

VUMC launches website aimed at Consumers

Nashville Business Journal - by Erin Lawley - Click here for original article.
 
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is launching a new Web site aimed at making the mammoth health care provider more patient-friendly.

The site - vanderbilthealth.com - focuses on consumers who are current or prospective patients of a Vanderbilt health care provider.

"We wanted to simplify it from the current site," says Terry Smith, director of Web development at VUMC. "The current site deals with all audiences - faculty, staff, research, academic, patient care - there were too many audiences."

The new site, which is live Sept. 21, focuses on information a patient might need - such as how to schedule an appointment, where to park, how to find a doctor and information on particular conditions and procedures.

Mary Hall, CEO of Florida-based medical marketing company iHealthSpot Inc., says consumer-friendly Web sites, particularly those that let patients interact with the practice and get credible health information, are becoming increasingly important for health care providers.

"People are becoming more and more computer savvy," says Hall. "It's OK to have a rudimentary site, but you're just not going to get the same type of results out of that as one the patient can actually interact with."

According to a July 2007 Harris Interactive poll, 84 percent of adults who are online, or about 160 million people, have searched for health-related information, up from 80 percent last year and 72 percent in 2005.

Hall says a well-designed site with reliable information can help drive patients to a practice.

VUMC - including the medical and nursing schools, hospital and clinic - had revenue of about $1.7 billion in 2005.

Vanderbilt spent about a year researching other medical centers' Web sites, holding focus groups and conferring with its family patient advisory council before settling on the site's design and content, says Jill Austin, chief marketing officer.

The original site, www.mc.vanderbilt.edu, will remain active.

elawley@bizjournals.com, 615-846-4251
 
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