Doctors may not make house calls anymore, but their home pages can have a big impact on patient volume. That's because people who need an MD often start with a URL.
Plenty of anecdotal evidence suggests that well-designed websites can help grow patient volume. But there's also a lot of science to support the claim. Here are two recent studies to consider:
According to the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of Internet users seek out health information online. The grand majority started their search using Google, Bing or Yahoo. And of those who looked for information about a specific health concern, 53 percent later spoke with a doctor or health professional about their condition. The survey was conducted in September 2012 and included more than 3,000 adults.
Manhattan Research surveyed 5,210 adults in 2012 and found 54 percent use the Internet to look for health information and to find a doctor to provide associated care.
Since potential patients already turn to the web for general information about their health, it's reasonable to assume they'll search online for doctors, too. And with the Affordable Care Act opening up health insurance coverage to some 30 million Americans in 2014, it's a good bet many of them will ask "Dr. Google" for a primary care physician.
So is it enough to have a website with your photo, credentials and office hours? The experts say no.
Medical practices' websites must mirror the professionalism, expertise and accessibility offered by the doctors themselves. Consider what respondents told the New York Times about this Manhattan-based dermatologist. Even though the doctor was extremely well-qualified to provide dermatology care, her website didn't convey that to viewers. Instead, the website was deemed to be unorganized, lacking in credibility and poorly designed.
To avoid isolating potential patients, use these tips when building a website for your medical practice.
1. Make it easy to understand
Don't intimidate patients by writing in "doctor speak." It's vital to have information about specific diseases and health conditions, but present so the layperson can easily understand. Do so by hiring a professional copywriting firm to provide succinct yet accurate information about conditions you treat.
2. Make easy to access
When people want information about your practice, they want it when it's convenient for them, not you. They want to know if your practice meets their needs immediately - they don't want to have to wait and call during normal business hours. Include administrative information like insurance plans you accept and payment policies. Put new patient registration forms on the site so paperwork can be completed before the office visit. Consider an online appointment scheduler. And be certain to include a contact form and designate a staff member to respond to inquiries.
3. Make it current
Your credibility will be called into question if the website isn't updated regularly. Update blogs with current events, practice happenings or new services. Include links to press coverage your practice has received. Feature bios and photos of new staff members. Not only will this information resonate with potential patients, it can also help your practice appear higher on search engine results pages. A copywriting service can also help with these tasks, so it doesn't fall to your office staff.
4. Make it professional
A lot goes into the design of a user-friendly website. Don't go the do-it-yourself route. Hire a reputable web design firm to ensure your site is a reflection of your knowledge, skills and ability. And only use high-quality photographs. Snapshots will not set a professional tone.
Millions of people turn to the Internet for information about health-related topics. That's why it's essential for doctors to have a quality website to capture business instead of leaving new patients on the table.
Chances are that if you have implemented EMR Software at your clinic, your vendor may already have implemented a patient portal and integrated it with a website. If you do not have a website for your clinic or you are looking for renovating or overhauling the one that you already have, contact us and we will be happy to assist you.