Current advances in information and communication technology have made accessing and obtaining health-related information easier than ever before. Today, many hospital websites use a patient-centric approach to promote engagement and encourage learning for better health-related decision making. However, little is known about the current state of hospital websites in the State of Kuwait. This study aims to evaluate hospital websites in Kuwait and offer recommendations to improve patient engagement and access to health information.
This study employs a cross-sectional analytical approach to evaluate hospital websites in Kuwait in 2017. The websites of hospitals that provide in-patient services were identified through a structured search. Only active websites that were available in either English or Arabic were considered. The evaluation of the websites involved a combination of automated and expert- based evaluation methods and was performed across four dimensions: Accessibility, Usability, Presence, and Content.
Nine hospitals met the inclusion criteria. Most of the websites fell short in all four dimensions. None of the websites passed the accessibility guidelines. The usability of websites varied between hospitals. Overall, the majority of hospitals in Kuwait have rudimentary online presence and their websites require careful reassessment with respect to design, content, and user experience. The websites focus primarily on promoting services provided by the hospital rather than engaging and communicating with patients or providing evidence-based information.
Healthcare organization and website developers should follow best-practices to improve their websites taking into consideration the quality, readability, objectivity, coverage and currency of the information as well as the design of their websites. Hospitals should leverage social media to gain outreach and better engagement with consumers. The websites should be offered in additional languages commonly spoken by people living in Kuwait. Efforts should be made to ensure that health information on hospital websites are evidence-based and checked by healthcare professionals.