I arrived at The George Washington University Hospital on a warm Saturday afternoon in February. The area is surrounded by busy streets and sidewalks that make the environment vibrant and in constant motion and right next door is the George Washington University Medical School. In 2009, according to Susan Kinzie, a reporter for the Washington Post, wrote that, “Not all the doctors who supervised [GWU Medical] students at another hospital had faculty appointments at GWU, so there was no guarantee they were reinforcing what students had learned in class. The committee noted pressure to see patients might affect the time doctors have for teaching and research.” In other words, the quality of scholarship and patient care was struggling at GWU. Therefore, one of the reasons that I propose why the hospital had to expand on its reputability, specifically through the website, is because of the struggling medical school that works in tandem with the hospital, as reported on by the Washington Post in 2009. Because of the report, I went to the website to explore the various features of the hospital. The website acts as a guide for the hospital to present both what it can offer a patient and their families and to promote the hospital’s prestige and professionalism, which has struggled in the past as the GWU Medical School was on probation for various reasons (Kinzie).
The intent the designer of the website had was to make it very accessible for the visitor and to provide all the needed information through various links that are located right on the front page. Therefore, the website acts as a guide for the hospital to present the sought out information and to promote the hospital in a manner that suggests professionalism.
The George Washington University Hospital website has two main audiences. The first is for the patients and their families. Not all patients will be adults or someone that can care for them self so it is especially important to make the site accessible to all those who will be helping in the care of the patient. Secondly, the website is also directed to potential new doctors, nurses, or others in the medical field, as it provides two links to “Careers” (GWU Hospital). The links not only emphasize the job opportunities to application links but puts a focus on the possibility of improving upon the medical field while working at the GW Hospital.
Regarding the focus on the patients, the hospital’s mission statement is found below the “Welcome” and below the alternating photos on the front page, which acts to present the prestige of the hospital. The website states:
When it comes to choosing a hospital, one thing is clear: quality counts. And a century-long tradition of providing medical care in a comfortable and convenient environment means peace of mind for the thousands of patients who are cared for by the doctors and nurses at the George Washington University Hospital each year (GWU Hospital).
The quote emphasizes the long time that the hospital has been running and how well the staff is at maintaining their high level of excellence. When people look for medical care, patients typically want the best available, so when the hospital provides the statement “Quality counts,” people are drawn to it. The mission statement is able to present to the patients that the hospital is professional and has been for many years, which works to contradict the Washington Post article regarding the struggle of professionalism within the neighboring school.
Furthermore, of the second focus of the website, that is not directly relevant to patients, is the link to “Careers” at the GW Hospital (GWU Hospital). There are two links for it directly on the front page. The purpose is to provide doctors with options for work, and to even promote to their present and future patients that the medical staff are “dedicated to service excellence” (GWU Hospital). Additionally under the link, is the promotion of equal and unbiased opportunities for work. The site states, “It is the policy of The George Washington University Hospital to provide equal employment opportunities to all employees, prospective and current, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or veteran status” (GWU Hospital). In other words, the hospital provides equal opportunities to all potential and current employees. Depending on a person’s status, race, gender, age, origin, etc, the statement proves supportive and accepting of them, which can be exceptionally important when looking for a job. As a result, the GW Hospital puts an effort forward to be and remain all inclusive.
Adding to the presentation of the quality of care within the hospital, the front page includes photos of doctors and patients interacting. In these photos, patients appear to be calm and collected when they are with the doctors and the doctors are presented in a way to look helpful by showing the patients information and appearing to talk with them (as seen to the right) (GWU Hospital). Other photos on the front page show the doctors at work. These pictures include links to research and services that doctors provide and specialize in (GWU Hospital). Another photo includes a family that was helped by the services at the GW hospital (GWU Hospital). Ultimately, these pictures of friendly faces are included to show the hospital to future patients, and to make the hospital seem both successful in its work and to appear welcoming.
Above the alternating photos, is a bar that consists of five links that work to direct the site’s visitors to the information that the visitors may be seeking and to provide general information to visitors. The links include resources like “Conditions and Services,” “Patients and Visitors,” “Events and Programs,” “Resources,” and an “About” page (GWU Hospital). The position of the links on the page then works to emphasize the resourcefulness of the website. The easier the website is to use, the less frustration the visitor or potential patient will feel. On the top right of the page, there is a way to contact the hospital with a non-emergency phone number, and also a link to “Find a Doctor” (GWU Hospital). Right next to that includes a directory for patients (for parking services, phone directory, maps, visitor services, and more) (GWU Hospital). As a result, these links work to make the hospital easily accessible to their potential patients and their families.
Next, under the “Conditions and Services” section, on the main page of the website, shows three links (as seen to the right) specifically for services that the hospital can provide (GWU Hospital). The specific links are “Cardiac Surgery,” “The GW Comprehensive Breast Center” which “[offers] area women a wide range of preventive, diagnostic and treatment services for breast cancer,” and “Robotic Surgery at GW Hospital,” which includes “sophisticated” procedures (GWU Hospital). In each of the three links, there are brief summaries to each that show how the hospital has succeeded in providing those specific services or how the hospital’s doctors excel in providing them. And then finally, there is a “Learn More” extension under each of the three specific services (GWU Hospital). The Search bar for visitors to the site is included to bring them directly to the service or procedure that visitors are looking for. This makes it easy for potential patients to be able to find the specific services and to find doctors that will be best for them, while also promoting the advanced medical procedures available, which adds to the presentation of prestige that the hospital works to present.
At the very bottom of the page, the website boasts several accolades and awards that the GW Hospital has won or has been accredited. These awards include ones for Cancer treatment, and hospital excellence awards (some specifically for the Kimberly Russo, the Chief Executive Officer of the hospital), and has accreditations for OB/Gyn, Organ Donation, and Patient Safety (GWU Hospital). These are only few of the many, many awards and accreditations for the GW Hospital that reiterate the quality care and professionalism of the hospital, contradicting the GWU Medical School reports on the Washington Post.
In summation, all of the information given on the website is accessible to all internet browsers. Each visitor is able to get most if not all of their information on the hospital on the website. And if some services are not found, then the contact list provides an additional way for the visitor to get information on the hospital and to ask questions. In short, the well organized website works very well to deliver information to the visitor or patient while also being able to promote and advertise the hospital (to both patients and future employees) that will help advocate for the reputation of the conjoining GWU Medical School. The internet reaches a broad audience that, I believe, will be swayed by the presentation of the GW Hospital.