By the look and feel of it, a modern medical website can be viewed as merely a digital brochure. But as healthcare consumer behaviors and expectations have evolved, so has the form and function of a medical practice website. What was once a peripheral part of healthcare operations now holds a more central role – patients want self-service options online (patient portal and online bill pay) and they also rely on the internet to choose a new provider.
As the reliance on internet resources increases, so does healthcare consumer standards. The modern medical practice needs a website that plays an active role in new patient acquisition and improving the patient experience. On a recent episode of our podcast (the second installment of the Patient Engagement Series), our medical practice marketing leaders Chelimar Miranda and Sarah Rayer shared secrets for optimizing a medical website to be effective as a patient engagement hub.
All Roads Lead to the Medical Website
The medical practice website serves as the “mothership” for both existing patients (to access convenient options online) and prospective patients (facilitating the first steps of the patient journey). Wherever a patient is coming from, they will (hopefully) be ready to take action. A website optimized for the user experience makes follow through as frictionless as possible.
Common Issues That Hinder Medical Practice Website Performance (Plus Practical Solutions)
Sarah Rayer compares a modern medical website to a car; “If it’s not built correctly, you’re not going to get where you’re going… the foundation has to be strong for it to work.” A website optimized for the patient experience removes barriers between a patient and their goals, from requesting a new patient appointment to readily accessing the patient portal.
A medical practice website should engage patients and help increase new patient acquisition. When it does not, this is the time to look under the hood and identify what needs to be changed.
Problem #1: The Website is Not Mobile-Friendly
Once upon a time, websites were too large for a mobile screen and trailed off the screen. This made page navigation and content consumption cumbersome. With modern responsive design, websites will now automatically format to the dimensions of a mobile screen.
However, responsive design should do more than just shrink the page. Web designers must ensure that all key features are as easy to access for the user as they would be if they were visiting the page on a laptop or desktop computer.
Because most websites are now built with responsive design, healthcare consumers are likely to expect any medical practice website to be easy to use and navigate on mobile. For internet users in the United States, 83% access the web through a mobile device, thus your website should be mobile-friendly.
Problem #2: Barriers to Next Steps
The title of Steve Krug’s book about web usability says it best: Don’t Make Me Think. Minimizing action steps reduces the chances of a user abandoning the task altogether. Our medical practice website designers optimize the user experience by:
Providing phone number visibility and click-to-call functionality: Some website designs place the phone number on the footer and the contact page. Having the phone number at the top of each page with click-to-call enabled makes it super easy for patients to call your practice.
Including an appointment request form on the home page: Having an appointment or consultation form within a prospective patient’s immediate view prompts them to move forward with the new patient process instantly. This also allows you to capture new patient leads after hours, or when your staff is experiencing high call volume.
Optimizing button placement for existing patient tools: As mentioned earlier, all roads lead to the website. When you tell a patient that they can find self-serve tools like the patient portal, online scheduling, and bill pay on your website, you do them a big favor by putting buttons for these services at the top of the home page.
Improving the user experience of a website increases the chances of completed actions and stands to increase patient engagement with your medical practice. One client saw a 60% increase with new leads in just one month by making a small change of moving the new patient form further up the page.
Problem #3: Traffic is Anemic
“If you build it, they will come,” is a memorable quote from the old movie Field of Dreams. Having a live website and setting up a Google My Business account are fundamental steps toward an online presence, but unfortunately this is not enough. Google does not give everyone a turn at being found in online search results.
Google is the most used search engine on the planet, and those websites that send out the strongest signals will make it to the top of search results. Earning such priority in search results is called search engine optimization (SEO).
On-page SEO involves a site architecture that is hospitable to Google’s crawlers (automated bots who consume every byte of website data). Just like you would remove any barriers for your site visitors to become patients, you need to remove anything that could obstruct Google from crawling your website.
Google bots also feast on fresh website content, with keywords as the key ingredient. Websites that match the user’s search intent will be shown in search results. Your website content should include the words and phrasing patients are using to find medical information online.
The more effort that is put into creating the best user environment for new, current, and returning patients, the better your website will be at attracting and retaining patients.
The Roadmap for Modern Medical Website Design Success
Template sites like Wix and Squarespace offer a tempting shortcut, but from what we have witnessed, putting in the extra time to build a website and brand strategy is worth it.
- Define your mission – The beginning of a website is like clay. The foundational goals of your practice help shape the website. Your mission matters and should shine through with images and words on your website.
- Differentiate and illuminate – What makes your practice different from the rest? What are the specific therapies and services you offer according to your specialty? When weighing their options, prospective patients will be asking how your medical practice is any different from the others, so differentiation can very well be the deciding factor.
- Understand the process – Web design and marketing work hand in hand. Understanding how it works supplies you with the needed insights to steer website optimization in right direction.
- Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) – Website metrics must be tracked like any other component of your digital marketing engine. Keyword rankings, conversions, bounce rate, and making sure the traffic is coming from the right region are all things to monitor regularly.
- Constant refinement – A website that engages patients and lures patients away from competitors often involves routine maintenance. When you run into performance issues with your website, you can adjust accordingly. Such changes are modifying the appointment request form, increasing or reducing keyword density, more internal linking, or clearing out any kinks that affect the loading speed of your website. Obtaining user feedback can also uncover improvement opportunities.
Yes, there are quick and easy ways to get a website up and running, but it won’t exactly help you stand strong against the competition in a fiercely competitive digital world, nor will it attract the right patients for your practice. It pays to give care and attention to the details when building a strong foundation for what will be the anchor of your digital marketing.
Pave the Way for Patient Acquisition with Medical Advantage
It takes a few days to build a modern medical website, but it takes years to learn the ins and outs of what converts a site visitor into a patient. Experience is how our web design and digital marketing experts know what works and what does not. Not only do we work with you to build a website that best reflects your medical practice, but we also:
- Provide branding: Some medical practices are not yet sure what they want, we help you through the logo design process to develop a strong logo that resonates with your audience.
- Ensure your website is responsive, fast, and secure: When people have to wait for your website to load, get a warning that the site is unsafe, or cannot use it easily on mobile, you lose potential patients – a fast, secure experience keep patients on your site.
- Develop and optimize your SEO strategy: We help your website be favored by Google so you will be seen more often in search.
- Offer PPC advertising expertise: Organic traffic (SEO) takes time. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a web traffic catalyst to help you build awareness while you await the results of SEO. Ideally, a medical practice should have PPC and SEO working in tandem.
- Manage your social media: Build your brand and expand your online presence with regular social media posts and Facebook ads.
- Monitor and build positive online reviews: Nearly 90% of healthcare consumers want to read reviews before they will book with a provider they were referred to. Our reputation management service monitors your reviews and helps you build up your positive reviews.
A website should support the goals of a medical practice and the needs of patients. To learn more about how your website can better serve your patients, attract more patients, and help you be more competitive in your market, contact us today to set up your free practice marketing consultation!