The modern medical practice’s website is its face to the world. It gives current and prospective patients a picture of the who, what, where and when of your practice.
A good website should be attractive and easy to navigate. But a successful Web presence requires more than just pretty pictures, bios of medical staff and specialties, forms, location and office hours. Those practices not offering more can be missing out on an opportunity to grow and increase patient satisfaction.
It should be no surprise that a majority of consumers search online to find local businesses.
A 2014 survey by BrightLocal, which provides search engine optimization (SEO) tools, asked consumers what types of local businesses they searched for in the prior 12 months. Of the respondents, 38 percent had searched for a doctor or dentist on the Internet – second only to restaurants/cafes (58 percent).
In addition, three-fourths of Internet users said they searched online for health information during the prior 12 months, according to a September 2012 Pew Internet Project research survey.
Make sure you include information on your website that prospective patients want to know, such as hospital affiliations, accepted insurance plans, after-hours care, your prescription refill policy, and payment and billing procedures.
Tap into consumers’ search behavior by adding health information to your website. This content is not only helpful to your patients but a great way to draw prospective patients to your site. Relevant content that includes specific terms consumers use when searching will improve your website’s ranking by search engines as well.
Practices have educational material already on hand. Make use of handouts about various conditions and treatments by posting them to your site, and include a frequently asked questions section. Or add links to educational websites that offer such information.
Develop your own material detailing the various procedures you offer and what patients can expect as part of their treatment. But be sure that the text is full of keywords that consumers use when seeking information.
A good SEO consultant can help maximize your site’s visibility.
Consider adding interactive features and online services for your patients. A 2014 Harris Poll survey on behalf of the National Partnership for Women & Families found that consumers want even more robust functionality and features of online access than are available today, including the ability to:
- Email providers (56 percent)
- Review treatment plans (56 percent), doctors’ notes (58 percent) and test results (75 percent)
- Schedule appointments (64 percent)
- Submit medication refill requests (59 percent)
If your practice has created a social media presence such as Facebook or Twitter, ensure that your website links to those accounts.
The Pew study found that one-third of cell phone owners and more than half of smartphone owners have used their phones to look up health or medical information. So it’s important to ensure that your website is optimized for easy loading and reading.
Responsive design serves all devices and adjusts for screen size. Google offers a free test on its website that can analyze your current website for mobile friendliness. Go to www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly.
If you haven’t changed your website for several years, it may be time to refresh it and add the kinds of information and functionality that consumers want in today’s tech-savvy world.