Among hospitals that marketed robotic gynecologic surgery on their websites, as many as 90% touted benefits that have minimal evidence-based support. Claims related to reduced pain, shorter recovery, and decreased blood loss were cited by 76% or more of hospitals that promoted robotic capabilities.
Few hospital websites cited evidence-based data to back up the claims, and the limitations of robotic surgery rarely appeared, Maria Schiavone, MD, said at the Society of Gynecologic Oncology meeting.
Claims often implied superiority (“state-of-the-art/cutting-edge”) and incorporated “emotional” wording such as “owe it to yourself” and “loved one.”
“Our findings reveal that marketing by hospitals of robotic gynecologic surgery is widespread, and that web-based content is frequently not supported by high-level data and is strongly influenced by industry,” said Schiavone, of Columbia University in New York.
“Given current financial courses, hospitals certainly need the ability to market their services. However, it must also be recognized that hospitals are in a unique position and that medical consumers assume that content presented by hospitals is unbiased and factually correct.
“This analysis highlights the need for greater oversight of hospital websites in providing accurate information to online healthcare consumers,” she added.