Magazine article Online

When Hospitals Mean Business: Online Sources for Health Care Marketing Information

Magazine article Online

When Hospitals Mean Business: Online Sources for Health Care Marketing Information

Article excerpt


In a decade of deregulation and escalating health costs, hospitals are competing for survival by becoming more business-oriented. Declines in patient admissions, oversupply of physicians, and new government reimbursement policies have all contributed to the change. Medical searchers in such settings face the challenge of rapidly acquiring knowledge of business and financial sources online when they are called upon to serve front-office managers as well as medical staff. At the same time, information specialists in businesses marketing to health care institutions may need to become more familiar with medical databases routinely consulted by potential customers.

Nowhere is the need to expand search horizons more evident than in answering questions related to marketing hospital specialty services. Where, for example, can background material be found online when a hospital is contemplating an advertising campaign for a plastic surgery center or an eating disorder clinic?


Medical searchers are likely to begin their quest for relevant bibliography in the National Library of Medicine's (NLM) HEALTH PLANNING AND ADMINISTRATION (HPA) database (available on several databanks, including BRS, DIALOG, and MEDLARS). Preferred indexing terms are derived from NLM's Medical Subject Headings--Annotated Alphabetic List (MeSH), the thesaurus also used for MEDLINE. Presearch consultation of MeSH shows that Marketing of Health Services, Advertising, and Surgery, Plastic are all preferred descriptors. select marketing of health services or advertising/de

         1662    ADVERTISING/DE

select s1 and surgery, plastic

         4596    S1
          699    SURGERY, PLASTIC
  S2       17    S1 AND SURGERY, PLASTIC

A BRS strategy comparable to that shown on DIALOG above would be: marketing-of-health-services or 1 and surgery-plastic On MEDLARS: marketing of health services or advertising 1 and surgery, plastic

When a search on the same topic is planned (or has already been conducted) in MEDLINE, the subfile HEALTH can be ANDed as a final step in HPA to eliminate overlap with MEDLINE. On DIALOG: select s2 and sf=health; on BRS: 2 and H.LI.; on MEDLARS: 2 and H(LI).

Business searchers may ask: can the same results be achieved via a free-text strategy, when MeSH is not available for presearch consultation? The answer in this case is "yes." select (marketing or adverti?) and (plastic or cosmetic)(1n)surg?

         3840    MARKETING
         1809    ADVERTI?
         1317    PLASTIC
          249    COSMETIC
        27027    SURG?
          764    (PLASTIC OR COSMETIC)(1N)SURG?
  S3       19    (MARKETING OR ADVERTI?) AND
                 (PLASTIC OR COSMETIC) (1N)SURG?

Results of a natural language approach such as that shown above incorporate all items retrieved with controlled descriptors in HPA. Note that the proximity connector chosen (1N) accommodates variant word order and allows for a possible intervening word: e.g., PLASTIC SURGERY or SURGERY, PLASTIC, or PLASTIC RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY. The sentence-level connector WITH on BRS is the most nearly comparable to (1N) on DIALOG. Because NLM database indexing often inverts descriptor word phrases, the more restrictive (W) on DIALOG or ADJ on BRS may miss relevant items in concept phrase searching.

Pertinent citations retrieved from HPA include references to source journals such as Profiles in Healthcare Marketing (five items), Health Technology, and American Medical News. HPA records derived from MEDLINE cite journals such as Plastic Surgical Nursing, Medical Care, Archives of Otolaryngology, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, British Medical Journal, and the New England Journal of Medicine. …

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