Just because your practice has a website doesn’t mean you are effectively reaching your audience
In today’s world, meeting patients where they are means marketing and communicating with them online. This is especially true in healthcare, where patients have more options than ever before due to more extensive health insurance coverage and a wider choice of providers via the Internet.
In fact, most patients go to the internet first when looking for a provider, which means that your website is often your first impression on potential patients.
But just because your doctor’s office has a website doesn’t mean you are effectively reaching your audience. Consider this: When a potential patient searches on Google, they often get millions of results, even for terms like “cardiologist” or “primary care physician.” How to differentiate your practice from others?
Your website is your secret weapon – and you need to optimize it for the best possible patient experience. Starting with these seven essentials below can make a big impact without requiring significant time or financial investment.
1. Security. As the internet has become a part of our daily life over the past decades, most of us have learned to make sure the websites we visit are secure.
We want to know that the information we provide is private and secure. This is true on any website, but it’s crucial on a healthcare website. This isn’t just because it’s what patients want, but also because your website, just like your patient records, is HIPAA regulated.
You’ll want to make sure that you have an SSL certificate and HIPAA-compliant online contact forms, while partnering with a HIPAA-compliant website hosting provider that has PHI protection protocols. .
Take the first step in this direction by starting a conversation with your website designer or host about website security and HIPAA compliance.
2. Mobile friendliness. Did you know that, according to Google, four in five patient encounters start with a web search on a mobile phone? Patients and search engines prefer mobile-friendly websites with a responsive design.
A mobile-friendly website isn’t just recommended, it’s essential. Make sure your website design is responsive which means your site can transform to fit any screen size. You’ll also want to make key information easy to find, and make sure that the buttons and hyperlinks are large enough to be easily clicked.
Site speed is also important. Make sure your website loads quickly, as less than 10% of people will stay on a site that doesn’t load quickly.
3. Easily accessible contact details. Key information, especially your contact details, should be easy to find.
It can be as simple as making sure your phone number is visible and clickable on your homepage, or as complex as giving users an easy way to sign up for a program or make an appointment. . Whatever options you choose, make sure the path from start to finish is easy for patients to navigate.
4. Clearly listed locations. If someone makes an appointment with your establishment or even plans to do so, they will want to know or to find you.
The Locations page is typically one of the most viewed pages on any healthcare website. So, finding the page placements and analyzing the information on that page should be transparent and easy to do for your audience.
Put the location information in an obvious place on your website and make sure the information is easily readable and understandable. It should include key details about the locations, including what services are offered and how to get there.
5. Supplier Information. When we are worried about our health, there is a great deal of fear and worry. For this reason, an important and sometimes underestimated part of healthcare is building a level of trust between providers and patients.
You can start cultivating this trust through your website. Use the pages on your site to build confidence in the care you provide and help your audience see your providers as the experts in their field. Make sure your providers’ credentials are clearly visible, but remember that patients also want to develop a comfortable and trusting relationship with their provider.
Expertise matters, so focus on education, scholarships, board certifications and more, but keep in mind that many other providers have these credentials as well. Add more personal information or even videos to the provider bio to help patients get to know them.
6. Insurance details. Insurance coverage is often the driving force behind the decisions we make about healthcare. For this reason, many patients visit a health care provider’s website for information on accepting their insurance plans.
This information should be easy to find on your website – and easy to decipher. Present it legibly and comprehensively, providing all the details that potential and current patients would be looking for.
7. Updated lists. Did you know that almost 50% of all Google searches are “click-free” which means the searcher didn’t click anything at all? Many patients make decisions based on the results on a Google map or another website like Healthgrades or ZocDoc.
If a patient never finds their way to your website, there is no way you can impress them with a positive first impression.
To make sure your audience finds its way to your site, be sure to regularly check and update your Google, Bing, and Yahoo business listings, as well as any industry-specific listings.
Part of this involves patients who have had a positive experience reviewing your healthcare practice, as it helps build trust with potential patients.
One step after another
There is no need to make updates and improvements to your website at the same time. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, prioritize a few improvements per week and work on them if time permits. Or find a trusted partner who can take some of the heavy lifting off you.
Rachael Sauceman is head of strategic initiatives for Full Media, a digital marketing agency based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, specializing in healthcare. Full Media offers a full range of healthcare digital marketing capabilities including website design, online advertising, SEO, patient experience optimization, and analytics.