Health sector institutions have already realized the power and need of digital transformation to enhance their effectiveness and efficiency. Has a consequence, great attention has been given to transfer as many services as possible to the online channel with the expectation of achieving financial savings, an increase in the quality of service, higher levels of patient satisfaction, and trust in health institutions. Nowadays, there is almost no hospital without an online presence.
However, it is not always easy for customers to accept and start using these websites, turning such initiatives into failures. As so, health sector institutions are called upon to consider improving the operation and usability of their websites to meet user expectations. This is necessary as functionality and usability have been widely shown to affect users adoption and use of health sector websites. Nevertheless, hospital websites should also fulfil objectives of accurate information delivery and state of the art technical solutions.
Research in the area of health sector website assessment is needed to support continuous improvement and performance evaluation. Most research on this field is focused on information context, technical quality and usability issues. More research is needed to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of health sector institutions. Such assessment would be useful in providing a picture of relative website development and operation such institutions. It would inform and provide a means, of focus for design improvement and augmentation, for health sector officials, hospitals managers and website developers moving forward. It would identify blind spots and provide a basis for identifying best practices.
UNU-EGOV has initiated a research effort to develop an assessment instrument that will measure the performance of hospital websites. The main goal is to assess the degree of required information and services made available, the clarity in the information disposal and the compliance with legal provisions regarding the content and technical aspects of hospitals’ webpages websites. The study focus will start on Portuguese health institutes websites as a pilot, and as such, it is essential to shed light on the progress made to Portuguese health sector online presence. The instrument to be developed, called Hospital Website Assessment Instrument is based on the existing health sector website assessment literature and designed for broad application over existing hospital websites.