The front door to every medical practice is its website. Prospective patients will almost always check out your site before calling for an appointment (if they’re not able to schedule one online). And it’s not just the younger moms, it’s seniors, too.
They are researching the services you offer and trying to get a sense of your physicians and their expertise. They are making judgements about how warm and appealing the practice is even though they’ve never set foot in it.
It is no longer adequate for your website to be a static electronic brochure. As your gateway, it needs to be a living, breathing strategic presentation of your practice. It should be updated regularly with new content and show warmth and vitality as well as expertise.
Your website should be completely overhauled every 2-3 years because of advancements in technology. As important as technology is to a website the most important – and often overlooked – piece of a site is the overall marketing strategy. As your most important marketing tool, your site must be strategic.
What is the message you want conveyed about the practice? What takeaway should a visitor have about you when she leaves your site? Is the site building your brand? (Seefor more on branding) Is the site designed with search engine optimization in mind? This is critical. Are you exhibiting and promoting what differentiates you from competitors? These are all strategic marketing decisions, not technology decisions.
Remember, the site is not for you. It’s for the patient. It should be written in patient-friendly language and provide information they want to know.
Your site should be visual. People respond far better to visual information than just text – in part because the bulk of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. Long blocks of copy can get very boring, and quickly risk being skipped over altogether. Photos should show satisfied patients, friendly staff and physicians. Patients want to see positive outcomes.
Make sure the site is unique to your practice. All too often, national marketing companies target physician practices offering discounted sites that all look alike. These plug-and-play templates are not going to capture what makes your practice what it is. Marketing is about differentiation. What makes your practice special?
Your site must be responsive. That means it is designed so that it recognizes the device that is accessing the site and optimizes for that device. This is imperative since smartphones are the primary tool for online searches.
If you’re not optimized for mobile, it greatly affects how high you appear in searches. Google basically ignores sites that are not optimized for mobile.
Introduce your physicians with more than a stiff portrait shot. Sure, board certification and other credentials are important and should be included, but you should show a little of their personal side, too. Patients want expertise but they also want someone they find likeable. We like brief videos rather than a static photo. The physician could present his philosophy on patient care or talk about why she chose medicine as a career. You could also go personal and talk about the family or a hobby the physician is interested in.
Display expertise. But not through links to Mayo or your national board. Instead, engage your physicians to talk about common symptoms, conditions and treatment. This could be through a blog, or better -- a video. Both tools aid search engine optimization and convey thought leadership.
Your site should be easy to navigate. You want consumers able to access all information with as few clicks as possible. This requires a deep understanding of design and how people access and process information.
And, make it easy for them to communicate with the practice. Can they pay their bills online? Is it possible to schedule an appointment? Do you have a patient portal to allow access to records? The more you allow them to do online, the more convenient and friendlier the practice is perceived.
Finally, do you promote your website on everything you do? Once you have a great website, you want everyone to know how to access it.
If you would like to explore whether your website is doing all it can for your practice, contact Wayne Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org. We work with healthcare providers every day to grow their practices.