CHICAGO - Inclusion standards for the listing of physicians in promotional websites operated by hospitals and health systems were adopted today by the nation’s physicians at the Special Meeting of the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates.
The action responds to concerns that hospital websites and search functions may selectively omit credentialed physicians who are not hospital-employed. Under the physician-approved standard, a health care organization website and search function must list all physicians credentialed by the facility in a fair, equal, and unbiased fashion.
“Patients are best served when hospital websites promote access to all physicians credentialed by the facility, whether hospital-employed or independent,” said AMA Board Member Mario E. Motta, M.D. “With almost no public policy or regulation governing the listing of physicians in public-facing promotional websites operated by hospitals and health systems, the new AMA policy fills a gap in needed standards for medical staff inclusion.”
The AMA has received reports of hospital websites that excluded physicians who are credentialed and privileged to practice at a hospital, but who are not employed by the hospital or health system. By contrast, physicians employed by the facilities were listed, raising concern that hospital websites and search functions presented patients with biased results.
In preparing research for the new policy, the AMA reached out to 10 of the largest hospitals in the United States to better understand how physicians are included in their websites and search functions. None of the hospitals responded to the AMA’s request for information.
In addition to advocating for inclusive standards of hospital websites and search functions, the new policy directs the AMA to work with relevant stakeholders and encourage the adoption of physician notification policies regarding changes in hospital and health system websites that could affect physician listings. The AMA will also produce and promote educational materials and trainings to help physicians advocate for their own inclusion on facilities’ websites and search functions.
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