Having written more than 25 healthcare Web sites in the past 3 years, I’ve learned A LOT about different diseases, conditions and treatments. In fact, it’s really better not to know how much goes wrong with your body- in some cases it might make you feel very depressed.
Having said that, I do think it’s critical for Web organizations in general, particularly hospitals or private practices, to think about offering information that is personalized to their institution’s way of ‘doing medicine’ on their condition pages. For example, Mayo Clinic does an absolutely amazing job of describing DCIS, a type of breast cancer that is very treatable if detected early. However, they do not weave information about treatment at Mayo into their content pages. Rather, the opportunity to read about treatment for DCIS at Mayo is offered in a separate link OUTSIDE of the content.
I know that Mayo is looking to be a leading online health portal (and they are!). Perhaps their strategy is to drive traffic to their site and ‘catch’ any patients who might be interested.
But I think it’s far better (and I advise my clients about this) to put all the information on one page: symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis checklist at that particular healthcare institution and treatment options. One-stop shopping becomes a way to communicate to your user how you would handle their disease.
Creating a content strategy that doesn’t make your user jump around the Web virtually teaches them to trust you for all the answers. Probably means they’re going to trust you in a real clinical situation as well.