Your practice’s medical website is your first opportunity to make an impression on a new patient. It also serves as a portal for your existing patients to access important medical information. Generally speaking, many websites’ ultimate aim is to have the user click a button, buy something, or perform some specific action. Medical websites should be designed with the same philosophy in mind.
I want you to take a step back and view a medical website from a patient’s perspective. Think about the last time you needed to go see a doctor. After finding a name, what was the first thing you did? Most of us would say we searched for them on the web and checked out their site. Once you clicked on their page, you probably looked at their bio, photograph, services offered, and other information. That is just the beginning. The patient’s experience on your website goes far beyond clicking on one or two pages.
Without further ado, here are the 11 essential feature that you need on your medical website!
Let’s get the HIPAA-potomous in the room out of the way. Any practice in the healthcare industry needs to ensure that contact forms on their website are HIPAA compliant. Don’t fret, there is a simple solution for this. If your website contact form does not collect any medical information or personal health information, then you need not worry about HIPAA compliance. You can accomplish this by simply having your form ask for the basics such as name, email, phone number and address. The game changes though when any personal identifiable information and medical condition/health care info/payments are collected in conjunction; when this is collected together it becomes Protected Health Information (PHI). Secure servers, communication gateways, and encryption can be very pricey. I recommend using the simple solution above whenever possible.
Online Appointment Scheduling
To succeed in today’s technology-driven world you have to provide top notch care and convenience. 77% of Americans today have a smartphone. You can be sure that patients will be looking at your mobile website for an easy and convenient way to schedule an appointment. Online appointment scheduling is one of the simplest ways healthcare clinics can bring in new patients. This technology allows patients to see when a doctor is available and schedule an appointment right from your site. Another great benefit of online scheduling is the freedom it can provide your staff to perform other tasks around the office! Every time a patient schedules their own appointment online, it frees up your staff to focus on other important matters at hand.
Contact and Location Information
Your medical practice’s contact and location information is crucial as many new and current patients will find your info on your site. Having this information highly visible may seem like a no-brainer, but there are tons of medical websites that have contact and location information that is inaccurate, inaccessible, or poorly laid out.
Your goal is to make this information highly accessible for anyone that reaches your website. Don’t tuck this info away in a “Contact” page; make it visible on your home page and any other page your visitors see.
Services and Specialties
This is your opportunity to highlight your expertise to your patients. Don’t worry about seeming too “braggy”, your patients want to see that you have the credentials and experience to be designated as an expert. Outline your services in a clear and concise manner. Provide your audience with a teaser of a subject with a link that allows the patient to learn more about particular subject. You can also link each service to an individual page with additional information.
You may be wondering how Google Analytics can help your medical website. Google analytics works in the background to learn about the individual’s demographics that are searching for you on the web. You can learn how long people stay on the site, which pages are the most popular, geo-location information, how people got to your site (ie: via direct search on Google, social media, etc), and the bounce rate. The bounce rate is particularly important as this represents the percentage of visitors to come to the website and navigate away after viewing only a single page. Analytics is great for targeting demographics and localities based on your current trends.
Patient resources are another important aspect of your medical website. This section can include patient forms available for download before the appointment, up-to-date accepted health insurances, payment options, and general instructions for new patients.
You can also use this section of your website to provide links to many of the services and conditions you treat. For example, an optometrist or ophthalmologist may provide information about cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes, and high blood pressure. These pages will be informative to your patient and also help to establish yourself as an expert in the field.
Social Media Integration
Did you know that social media networking is what the internet is primarily used for nowadays? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social media sites are just a few of the fastest-growing websites today. The social media platforms provide a great opportunity to find new patients and engage existing ones. Many medical websites use social media as a simple platform to communicate to their patients.
Patients that you see on a regular basis utilize social networking apps and site regularly. Social media also provides a very inexpensive method of targeted advertising. Facebook Ads is only one such example. Facebook Ads allow you to target advertisements to certain ages, sexes, locations, and interests to ensure that you are reaching your desired audience.
Doctor and Staff Directory
Another no-brainer right? Chances are that when a patient goes to your medical website they will navigate to the doctor’s bio page. Your “About” page should include the following items: information about the doctor’s training, services or procedures in which they are specialized, professional accomplishments, and personal interests/activities such as “…in his free time, Dr. Smith enjoys running, hiking, and camping.” The latter component is especially important because it humanizes the doctor and allows patient to connect on an emotional level. Be sure to also include a professional photo of the doctor with a pleasant smile on his face!
Some medical websites like to also highlight their hard-working staff. This is generally a great idea as allows your staff to have a vested interest in the website and the practice as a whole. Follow the same pattern as above by noting your staff’s pertinent credentials, specialized services, hobbies, activities, and a professional photo.
Patient Expectations and FAQ’s
FAQ’s and Patient Expectations is particularly helpful for new patients. People tend to be afraid of the unknown. Give a detailed account of what patients can expect during their first visit to your office. Include the expected length of the appointment (err on the longer side), describe the pre-testing that is performed, equipment that may be used, etc. The more information your patient has upfront the more likely they will be to become a new patient and schedule an appointment.
Many people still think of “blogging” like a personal online journal or diary. Sure, these still exist, but many blogs are now written by companies across every industry. Blog writing is crucial to your website as it can improve your website’s SEO (search engine optimization), increase traffic to your site, and distinguishes your company as an expert in the field. Google’s search page algorithm relies heavily on a website’s content and the frequency of posts. Blog posts can certainly be time consuming to write and edit but it will produce dividends in organic traffic when done correctly.
We saved the best for last: Call-to-action buttons. Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons are the most important buttons and links on your site. The goal of a medical website is simple: get more patients. If you utilize online appointment scheduling, this should be your call to action button. Make this button BIG, IMPORTANT, and VISIBLE! It can be helpful to put your “Book Appointment Online” button in a sticky header or a sidebar widget that is visible no matter where the patient is on the page. You want to make it as easy as possible for your patient to click that button and take that the next step.
The Final Word on Medical Websites
Your practice’s website acts as a portal to connect with people, provide information, and highlight the experts in your practice that helps to change patients’ lives. Start utilizing the techniques and components outlined above and you should see more patients scheduling appointments and walking through your doors. Feel free to contact COMO Web Designs, LLC with any questions about your medical website!