Healthcare Companies Should Care about Wikipedia

The healthcare industry is facing a ton of uncertainty right now.

Employer groups are migrating toward “centers of excellence” hospital systems to maximize their insurance dollar. Obamacare and Medicaid expansions are putting pressure on hospital finances. Consolidation is occurring, with smaller players unable to remain independent. Hospital systems are revamping marketing strategies to promote higher margin services, and those that are highly rated for the quality of their services are trumpeting those ratings.

As they revise their marketing strategies, some appear to be paying more attention to their Wikipedia presence than others. As any major employer today knows, one’s Wikipedia page is a key component of the organizational marketing strategy. Potential patients are highly likely to go there for information they hope will be objective.

I looked at the Wikipedia pages of three healthcare organizations that do business in Oregon, and found three very different situations in play.

The Good

Let’s start with Legacy Health. Legacy Health is a good example of an up-to-date and informative Wikipedia article on a health care company. This Portland-based system is very effectively represented by its Wikipedia presence. One visits the parent company site and finds a simple, straightforward description of the organization. Three short sections, written in the fact-based, no-nonsense style Wikipedians prefer. It’s up to date, but not content heavy. No negative information on the page. No banner suggesting it lacks sources or needs to be rewritten. A useful, well-done page.

But the real beauty of this entry is that it has intralinks to other related Wikipedia articles. If a potential client is  looking for information on a particular Legacy hospital (rather than the parent company), here are separate Wikipedia entries for seven Legacy-owned facilities. The Legacy Emanuel Medical Center entry is particularly well executed. Someone has very thoughtfully created a consistent, positive presence for the Legacy system  on Wikipedia.

Room for improvement: Several of the pages need minor updates, and additional citations would bolster credibility.

The Not So Good

Let’s consider the entry for Providence Health & Services, the largest Portland hospital services provider. Right away, we find a red (or, rather orange) flag:

You don't want the Wikipedia entry on your health care company showing this warning that the post sounds like an advertisement.

A glaring banner placed on the article in 2013 by a volunteer editor says the entry is written like an advertisement and needs to be rewritten in a neutral tone. It appears to have been put there after a brief editing war with an editor with no user page, who only edited the Providence article. Besides being written in advertorial language, the article is thinly sourced. Given the huge amount of media coverage Providence receives, adding citations should be easy. Further, much of the information is outdated.

What works: There are intralinks to 17 articles in Wikipedia dedicated to hospitals in the Providence system. (The WP article says Providence has 29 hospitals while Providence’s official website lists 50.) But, unlike the Legacy entries, few meet the standards required of solid Wikipedia articles.

The Ugly

Yet the Providence presence on Wikipedia is a shining star compared to our third hospital system Wikipedia entry, the Rogue Regional Medical Center. Rogue Regional Medical Center is now Asante, but the Wikipedia entry for the company hasn't been updated to reflect that!Among the problems with this entry:

  • The article is woefully out of date. No serious editing has been done to the article since 2013.
  • The article should either be titled “Asante,” which is now the parent company, or there should be an Asante article on Wikipedia which intralinks to this one. But there is no entry in Wikipedia for Asante, a healthcare organization that is clearly notable by Wikipedia standards.
  • The article is very short on solid references, despite considerable news coverage for the company.The article contains lots of  old and uselessly detailed information about construction projects and facilities expansion. Meanwhile, the high ratings it received through 2013 merit only a single paragraph near the end of the article.


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