TitleUsing websites to engage consumers in managing their health and healthcare.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsMittler, JN, Volmar, KM, Shaw, BW, Christianson, JB, Scanlon, DP
JournalThe American journal of managed care
Issue6 Suppl
Date Published2012 Sep

OBJECTIVE: This study provides insight into the potential of local community health information websites to cultivate and support consumer engagement through website positioning and content choices. STUDY DESIGN: This descriptive study compared health-related websites maintained by 16 multi-stakeholder community alliances charged with improving consumer engagement and public reporting of provider performance data. METHODS: We systematically assessed website messaging, content, and the presence of explicit connections among information and tools related to consumer engagement behaviors for 32 websites maintained by alliances as of November 2011. These findings were triangulated with information about alliances' public reporting activities from key informant interviews (2007-2011) with stakeholders in 14 alliances. RESULTS: A total of 25 of the 32 alliance websites contained information for consumers, and 14 of those included information related to at least 3 of 4 consumer engagement behaviors: shopping for high-quality providers or treatments, self-advocacy in healthcare encounters, self-management of illness, and partaking in general healthy behaviors. Positioning strategies and tactics to attract consumers varied widely across alliances. Some targeted specific conditions or behaviors; others took a broader community approach. Two alliances had strong alignment between website messaging and consumer engagement content, 7 had moderate alignment, and 7 had limited alignment. CONCLUSIONS: Although alliances have been experimenting with a wide array of website approaches, their promise as a tool to improve consumer engagement is still uncertain. Further research that addresses the comparative value of different website approaches is needed.

Using websites to engage consumers in managing their health and healthcare.