By Janis Peiser
While word of mouth and professional referrals are still effective ways of finding a doctor, the overwhelming majority of today’s patients begin their search for medical services online. Having an engaging website is critical for making your services visible to current and would-be patients and bringing new business through the door.
Leading websites follow the same core principles: They are well-organized, relevant and straightforward to navigate, and they offer frictionless touch points for patients to register, schedule appointments and find the practical information they need. If you’re confused by the options, read on. Here are the five essential features of an effective medical practice website.
#1: Frictionless Patient Touch Points
Amazon has generated billions of dollars in revenue thanks to one simple innovation: the one-click buy button. “Click” shopping removes all the friction points associated with online shopping — multi-page checkout processes, payment errors, frustrating upsells — and makes it incredibly easy for customers to buy.
This is relevant because today’s patients demand the same frictionless experience from their medical service providers.
Effective websites offer integrated touch points that allow patients and would-be patients to register online, make appointments (through online scheduling integrated with your practice management software or simple click-to-call features), download necessary forms, order repeat prescriptions and access information 24 hours a day from anywhere. According to a recent Accenture study, 64 percent of patients will book medical appointments using digital channels by 2019. Physicians who jump on this technology now will be ahead of the curve.
#2: Responsive Design and Functionality
“Functionality” is the interactive part of your website, what it can do for your business and patients beyond marketing and sales. “Responsive design” means that your website site is smart enough to recognize what size screen a patient is viewing from, and scales the website so it fits the device. Together, these functions ensure that your site loads faster — three seconds is considered best practice — and on any screen.
This may not sound important, but it is. Today’s patients are just as likely — perhaps more likely — to be browsing for healthcare services on a smartphone as they are from a desktop computer. If the screen doesn’t render correctly or the patients cannot book an appointment while riding the bus home from work, then they may look for services elsewhere. Other tips include:
- Avoiding graphics, pop-ups and background colors that distract the user and slow down the loading speed.
- Keeping the navigation simple, consistent and clearly visible at the top of every page, so users can easily find what they need.
- Ensuring that content can be viewed easily through at least the three most popular web browsers: Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge.
- Including social media icons so that users can easily click to your practice’s Twitter account, LinkedIn profile and Facebook fan page.
#3: Well-Written Content
Clear, meaningful content tells patients and potential patients that you are the best practice to make them healthy. Patients who can read about your services, facilities and processes are more likely to trust that you are up-to-the-minute with the latest medical methodologies. By listing your credentials, your website can also give visitors confidence in your care.
When writing content, consider the type of questions that patients ask, and ensure that your website provides answers to those questions. Ask yourself, does the website inform your patients and potential patients about your services, staff, and goals? Does it tell them what their financial options are, like for example, what insurance companies you accept and whether you take cash? Is the content direct, honest and concise? Does it avoid high-brow language and complicated medical jargon?
Website readers have shorter attention spans than print readers, so be clear on what you want to say and get to the point quickly.
Patient testimonials are a validation of your good work — they overcome the apprehension of potential patients and build credibility and trust. Display them prominently on your homepage, on a dedicated testimonials page or peppered throughout your entire website. Just make sure you stay HIPAA compliant and get a release from your patients before posting any testimonials with names attached.
Testimonials can also be found on review sites like ZocDoc, HealthGrades and Yelp. Every day, medical practices enjoy over 30,000 website page visits that started with a patient search on Yelp. Embedding these reviews to your site makes it easier for patients to find up-to-the-minute feedback about your practice.
#5: Patient Education Library/Blog
Providing accurate, clinically appropriate education pieces is extremely helpful for patients and stops from them looking up sketchy medical information online. Organize your resources into a patient education library or create a blog section to position yourself as a thought leader and keep patients up to date with critical news and events.
You don’t have to spend an enormous amount of time blogging — aim for a couple of posts each month. Google rewards practices that blog regularly with higher search engine page rankings, which pays dividends regarding website visibility and the number of leads you’ll get from potential patients.
Wrapping Things Up
As a medical practice in today’s fast-paced world, it’s vital that you take control of your practice information and make it visible to patients with a functional, well-written website. Not only will this increase the efficiency of your practice, but you will also be able to market your brand to potential patients before they even walk in the door. By including these five key features in your website design, your practice will be off to a flying start.
Contact Goldin Peiser & Peiser to discuss additional ways to increase the success of your practice.
Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.