A medical website is an important and, many would argue, necessary part of a healthcare provider’s business. According to a study by Pew Research Center, 80 percent of internet users have searched for health information in the last 12 months. That staggering number is great news for providers, meaning that there are millions of potential patients just waiting to be captured by an engaging, informative and easy-to-use medical website.
Fundamentally, a healthcare provider’s website should accomplish two goals: It should communicate with and serve current and prospective patients. The internet is about convenience: Users are looking for accessible and accurate information. What are the symptoms of a particular disease? What treatments does your clinic offer? How is an appointment scheduled? Make this information easy to find online and you will have a loyal following.
So, how do you make your medical website a captivating, information machine for patients? Vanguard Communications, a healthcare communications firm, gives five essential ingredients every doctor’s website should have.
1. A content management system
The first essential medical website element is something that visitors will not see: An open-source content management system (CMS), or website-builder software. A CMS allows you to directly edit a website as though it were a word processing document, lessening the need for a web developer for every site update.
In other words, you save time and money by making minor content changes on your own. Open-source also means that it’s royalty-free, and thus no licensing fee is required. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are a few of the most common open-source software examples.
2. A clean design that’s also mobile responsive
One of the most common mistakes in communications – particularly in online communications – is that people try to say too much. Many medical websites are overrun with text, making it difficult for users to find the information they are looking for. Don’t forget that the web is more commonly a scanning medium than it is a reading medium; don’t make people work too hard to decipher your content.
While on the topic of usability, also confirm that your medical website is mobile responsive. Special coding will allow the site to respond to smaller screen sizes, making it easy to access and read on all devices. This is an important step when building or updating your website, as Vanguard’s research tells us that more than half of visitors to medical websites are on smartphones. An experienced web developer will know exactly how to incorporate responsive design into your site.
3. An easy-to-remember website address
Patients have many complicated matters to remember, and a web address should not be one of them. They often get around to visiting a website days or months after they have heard about it, so the address needs to be simple and memorable.
Avoid the temptation to focus too much on using your practice name if it is long or tricky to spell. A good example comes from Tennessee Reproductive Medicine. Instead of settling for www.tennesseereproductivemedicine.com (unwieldy with lots of forgettable e’s, n’s and s’s) the practice chose www.trmbaby.com: Simple, applicable and, best of all, easy to remember.
4. Use plain language that speaks to patients (not doctors)
While you may be able to state the difference between a hysteroscopy and a laparoscopy in your sleep, don’t forget that most patients are new to medical diagnoses and procedures and will appreciate clear, easy-to-understand language. Your website is meant to attract new patients by being informative and simple to navigate. Writing in the same style as the Journal of the American Medical Association will only cause confusion and frustration in patients looking for healthcare information.
5. Include contact and location information
Now that patients have found you online, are wowed by your comprehensible website, and are ready to schedule an appointment, make it easy for them to find you by providing addresses and phone numbers for all office locations. Phone numbers on the website need to be clickable for smartphone users. Additionally, Google Maps should be included on all locations pages. This not only gives patients driving directions, it will also boost the site’s visibility in Google search.
Learn more from the experts
Visit VanguardCommunications.net for more information on creating a patient-friendly healthcare website. Vanguard’s medical marketing blog is a comprehensive resource written by the industry’s most experienced marketing specialists.