Presentation at the 2014 Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit



Hospital systems have struggled with Google editorial content for years.

It’s the problem of inaccurate information on a multitude of Google listings. This includes wrong phone numbers, names and addresses which cause problems for patients, visitor and staff.

Now the problem has expanded. What was once limited to Google Maps now shows up in auto-generated content on Google+, Google Places and worst of all, Google search results.  None of this data is sourced – in fact it’s presented by Google as accurate editorial content.

Recent articles have detailed the issues. For background, I recommend reading:

The goal of this post is to suggest solutions that:

  • Acknowledge that Google will not change its “No Customer Service” business model. They won’t be hiring thousands of humans to take our phone calls or respond to emails.
  • Are appropriate for large, complex organizations like hospitals, universities, government agencies, Fortune 500 firms, etc.  Not your local dry cleaner or pizza shop.

Four Ways to Fix The Google Editorial Content Problem

1. Google must display the source of their editorial content. This allows us to track down and fix  erroneous data.

2. Make it easier to claim ownership as an organization. For example, my hospital system has over 100 physical locations. 500+ program names, and over  1,000 affiliated physicians. All of them come to me when Google gets it wrong.

3. Automatic ownership of the numerous current  listings based on metadata unique to the organization. Some examples using my hospital system include:

Unique Name – Any listing that uses “University of Maryland Medical Center”,  “Greenebaum Cancer Center”, “Maryland Shock Trauma”, and dozens of others.  It has to be unique.  There are many places across the country called “Childrens Hospital” and “St. Joseph Hospital” which couldn’t be automatically claimed.

Unique Phone Number – This could be a single phone number or an entire exchange. At my hospital we use 410-328-XXXX. Any Google phone listing that begins with “410-328” should automatically be owned by us.

Unique Domain – We have over twenty websites in our healthcare system.  Any listing that uses,, umms,org, etc. are automatically ours.

Unique Location – We have over  100 street addresses, and most are completely owned by us. For example 22 S. Greene St., Baltimore, MD 21201 is our main hospital. Any listing with that address is ours.

4. Automated updating of Google listings. Google currently uses a clumsy process with web forms and spreadsheets. A better way uses a tool already in place at large organizations – the Web Content Management System

For example, once Google agrees that UMM.EDU is the official website of my hospital, we could embed metadata to feed our Google listings. Information would include:

  • Official name
  • Address
  • Contact phone number
  • Email address
  • Geo coordinates for map pins
  • Descriptive text for Google listings
  • Links to images, approved logos
  • etc.

Using inheritance rules, we could provide different metadata for each of our departments, and custom information for each physician.

Google would need to provide a structured data framework for each field in Google Maps, Places, etc. plus the ability to create tags unique to our industry.

If Google sets this up, they would:

  1. Offload responsibility for accurate data to the organization in question
  2. Have a single “source of truth” for all Google products
  3. Enable the organization to manage 1,000’s of records from their own website.

This only works because large, complex organizations (the ones having problems with Google data) are also likely to have content management systems for website management – making metadata control possible.

What’s Next?

I was contacted by Google last month about this problem, followed by  several conversations with one of their representatives. They claim to be working on a solution and wanted my ideas. I provided everything in this post.

I want your suggestions. Comment on this post or email your ideas to me at [email protected] and I promise they will be shared with Google.


Zurich Healthcare Symposium

April 9, 2013

My presentation at the April 9, 2013 conference Zurich conference from Ed Bennett   Resources: The Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media HIMSS White Paper Social Media in Healthcare: Privacy and Security Considerations 33 Charts – A blog by Bryan Vartabedian, MD – Pediatric Gastroenterologist at Texas Children’s Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine Price Waterhouse Coopers Social Media “Likes” […]

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Does your hospital allow or block access to social media?

November 7, 2012

UPDATE – The survey is now closed. Note – this post was originally published on Ragan’s Healthcare Communication News Reposted with permission  This new survey by Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media wants to find out so it can prepare a white paper and toolkit based on the findings. By Jessica Levco | Posted: November 7, 2012 Hospitals have […]

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A New Home for the Hospital Social Network List

September 12, 2012

On July 21, I announced my decision to archive the Hospital Social Network List (HSNL), asking readers to provide information for a final update in August.  Today, I’m delighted to announce that HSNL will in fact continue with a new name and a new home.  It’s moving forward under the auspices of the Mayo Clinic […]

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The Final Update

July 21, 2012

After a long run, I’ve decided to archive the Hospital Social Network List. The final update will be published at the end of August. Additions and corrections must be received by Friday, August 17, 2012. The list will remain available as an archive, but no changes will be made after this final update. Thank you […]

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Hospitals, Social Media and Compliance

June 5, 2012

My presentation at the AAMC 2012 Compliance Officers’ Forum   Hospitals, Social Media and Compliance View more presentations from Ed Bennett. Notes and References: Price Waterhouse Coopers Social media “likes” healthcare, From marketing to social business. Full study and charts Primary Reasons for Visiting Professional Online Networks Society for New Communications Research Study Employee Expectations – When IT […]

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Traffic to Hospital Web Sites

May 23, 2012

Traffic to U.S. Hospital Web Sites (according to Hitwise) Monthly Visits – U.S. Traffic Only

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Connecting Healthcare + Social Media Presentation

May 18, 2012

My presentation at the Connecting Healthcare + Social Media conference. Most audience questions were about opening access to social media, 50% of the organizations at the conference are blocking Facebook and related sites.   Three things I've learned about Healthcare Social Media View more presentations from Ed Bennett

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Top 10 reasons a Spring HCSM conference in New York City is better than Rochester in the Winter

May 2, 2012

By Ed Bennett and Chris Boyer It has been six months since the HCSM Summit in Rochester, Minnesota  hosted by the Mayo Clinic. Many of the same presenters will be in New York for the two-day Connecting Healthcare + Social Media conference (May 17-18). If you couldn’t go to Rochester, here are the top ten reasons you should attend […]

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