While the U.S. Federal government gets regularly dissed in 2010 for all kinds of trespasses, there’s one area where they’re looking really good: online health websites.

ForeSee Results found in their study, 2009 Healthcare Benchmark – Online Customer Satisfaction: Key Driver of Success and Future Use of Healthcare Websites, that more Americans rank government health websites higher in user satisfaction than any private sector segment, including pharmaceutical manufacturers’ sites, hospitals’ sites, and insurance companies’ websites.

To be fair, pharmas come within one percentage point of government sites: while 79% of Americans are satisfied with government-provided health info online, 78% are satisfied with online health sites of pharmas. The benchmark is 73% for hospitals, and 64% for insurance.

In aggregate, the health industry achieves a greater overall satisfaction benchmark than other market segments measured by ForeSee — overall scoring 75% — compared to 71% for all industries, overall. ForeSee analyzed nearly 600 websites across all major industries including retail, financial services, and others.

Some of the most-visited government-hosted health websites include the Department of Health and Human Services (where senior health citizens can find information on Medicare, for example), the National Cancer Institute, the National Library of Medicine, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, among many others.

Foresee uses the ACSI, or American Customer Satisfaction Index, methodology pioneered at the University of Michigan. This is an industry standard that measures consumer satisfaction across industries. The methodology incorporates various components of online consumer satisfaction such as site performance and easy of navigation, among others.

ACSI has been found useful in predicting consumers’ future online behaviors. For example, on average, comparing more satisfied with less satisfied online visitors (benchmarked at 69% or lower), the more satisfied are:
  • 139% more likely to return to a website
  • 169% more likely to recommend the website
  • 153% more likely to use the website as their primary resource for interacting with a health care organization, versus using a call center or physical office location.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Why care about benchmarking online health information sites, anyway? The likelihood to return to a website, to recommend a website, and to use the site as a primary information source all lead to a consumer’s greater health engagement — and that can lead to taking actions such as purchasing health products and services as well as creating positive buzz and word-of-mouth for that online host organization.

Foresee points to outcomes like building brands, increasing loyalty, attracting new clients. But if the health information is sound, and health citizens more engaged, then it also follows that improved health outcomes will result. And those companies that engage with health are prepped to sustain success over time.