As a practicing physician, you’ve worked hard to build a patient base, hire a staff that works like a well-oiled machine and create an environment that reflects your values as a healthcare provider all while providing incredible, reliable patient care. It’s no secret you believe in the practice you’ve built and even your existing patients can speak to the wonderful services you provide.
But, how do new or potential patients come to hear about you? Other than word-of-mouth or referral services, why should they choose to come to you and not someone else?
As stated in a study conducted at Stanford University in 2002, 75% of people will judge the credibility of a business based on the website alone.
In this technology driven world, patients will make decisions without ever calling into the office. Their first step is to open the internet, type in either your name/services/treatments/issues and trust what results shows up to give them all the information they’re looking for.
Patients, potential patients and outside organizations want to learn more about your service, ask questions or make an appointment, are you making it easy for them without walking into your practice?
Your website will most likely be their first impression of you and your practice. And as the saying goes, “you never have a second chance to make a first impression.”
What is your first impression saying about you?
How important is it for practicing physicians to have a website?
Your website is your brand – your identity! A practice’s website is the cornerstone of its online presence; even more so than social media. Your website builds credibility, establishes trust and is a canvas for your thoughts, ideas and services. Every patient at some point in their journey will look at your website. It matters what they find.
Regardless if a physician has been practicing for 30 years or in their first year, the lack of a website or a poorly executed one can put both your reputation and your business at risk.
According to online reputation management service experts, Doctor.com, best in class doctors have an average rating of 92% for online presence. In comparison, the average rating for physician websites is 76%.
What if my practice doesn’t have a website?
Get started now! In a 2017 study conducted by Digital Future Project, it stated 30% of consumers won’t consider a business without a website. Consumer behavior has adapted to modern technology. Your website is your #1 marketing tool.
Not sure where to start? To answer that question would be another article entirely, but you have some options!
- Find a website builder online
- Customize a website template. Be sure you know what information you want to provide and you have a ‘call to action!’
- Hire an agency or team
If you do have a website, what does it take to be at the top of the class?
We asked these experts from Doctor.com, Incredible Marketing, Cosmetic Surgery Forum and MetaMed Marketing share their pearls on how to bring your website to the next level –
What makes a good medical website?
CSF: A good medical website sticks to the three C’s: Clear, Concise and Consistent information. The website clearly identifies who, what, when, where, why and how of the practice and its provider. In turn, this information will help establish credibility and trust while becoming a resource to future and present patients.
- Simple navigation
- Definitive calls to action
- Consistent branding
- Quality information
- Contact forms (complete, working, and available on most pages)
- Before & After photos (and relation to the procedure listed with them)
- Good domain name
Doctor.com: Today, people expect every online interaction to mirror their experience with Amazon: easy, convenient, and trustworthy. A good medical website will take a page out of the Amazon playbook and give patients rich practice and provider profiles and healthcare data, plenty of authentic patient feedback, and easy contact options. To do this requires a clean and focused design with clear calls to action — especially for appointment booking. And a great medical website will go a step further by highlighting patient testimonials and utilizing schema markup so star ratings accompany the URL in search results.
Why is website design important?
Doctor.com: According to Doctor.com’s CX Trends in Healthcare report, the #1 reason patients decide not to book an appointment with a provider is a poor online reputation. The number 2 reason — an outdated website. A well designed, mobile-optimized website that includes essential information (i.e. office hours, procedures, insurances etc), recent patient reviews, and easy appointment scheduling option sends the message that you care about your patients’ experience with your office, well before they enter your waiting room.
CSF: The design of your website is important because it’s one of the first impressions someone will have of you and your practice. Have you ever come across an out-date website that’s difficult to navigate through and immediately searched for a new website? As aesthetic physicians, you understand the exterior appearance of a patient can help with first impressions. With a website design, it’s no different.
- First impression & overall feel of the practice
- Offers reflection of practice in real life
- Aesthetically pleasing
What does your medical website need?
Doctor.com: Patient reviews on your website not only ensure you’re optimized for search rankings, but it will also help you acquire more patients. According to Becker’s, 72% of patients use online reviews as the very first step to finding a new doctor, and a huge majority of people considering plastic surgery think doctor reviews are extremely important. Forward-thinking medical professionals embed this social proof on their sites so visitors can read firsthand experiences from real patients.
Your website should provide the tools to schedule or request appointments, as that’s a key objective for many visitors. Nearly half have even chosen one doctor over another because they were able to book with them online. Online scheduling helps facilitate the “last mile” of this journey, converting more care seekers into actual patients. A good medical website will be optimized for mobile. Mobile devices make up more than half of all web traffic, and a cumbersome experience forms a negative first impression before someone even walks through your doors and becomes your patient
- Mobile responsiveness
- Contact info (phone number, email), hours, location, links to social media
- Services offered
- Calls to action
- Before & after photos.
CSF: Online reviews are a pivotal influence to patients who are considering a healthcare provider. According to a 2018 healthcare provider poll, 70% of people consider a positive online reputation to be very or extremely important when choosing a healthcare provider.
If every 7 out of 10 patients consider reviews extremely important, then it’s crucial to include testimonials and reviews on your website. Other imperative details to include on a website: about the provider(s), services (medical, cosmetic or both), patient information which may include details for new patients, payments, insurance and financing, before & after images and contact page.
What have you found that physicians don’t think of when building a website?
Doctor.com: By now, most physicians have figured out that they need to have a nicely designed, mobile-optimized website. But many doctors don’t realize that they can’t stop there. They forget to think about how they’re represented on the many third-party review sites patients visit for objective feedback from their peers. These sites, like Yelp and Healthgrades, play a critical role in a patient’s decision-making and, ultimately, lead prospective patients to click through to your website to secure an appointment.
- Domain name
- Quality coding / web dev / SEO
- Content importance
- Sufficient call to action
- Adding a webstore and all of the factors/complications etc.
- Awards & certifications
CSF: The physical act of creating a medical website is a great start, but it doesn’t stop there. A practice must monitor third party reviews, review comments and interactions with the page and (if necessary) update content so viewers get the most up-to-date information. Typically, practices will hire a team or agency to help with the beginning, middle and future parts of having a medical website.
MetaMed Marketing: Among common website failings (things physicians don’t think of), it is routinely found that:
- Some websites are focused too intensely on how they look at the expense of how they work. Form and function are not mutually exclusive, but site functionality must take first priority for superior performance and—ironically—to vet worthy web vendors capable of delivering that performance. Aesthetically attractive website designs will never be seen if potential patients aren’t driven there through effective SEO.
- Websites lacking adequate photo galleries undervalue the most significant reason patients visit cosmetic websites. They also underestimate how patients interact with “before and after” photo cases to connect with practices. Optimized photo galleries don’t just show off pretty pictures; they also present a physician’s superior quality of care.
- Too many physicians ignore the vital need for optimized text-based copy in their websites. SEO and conversion are both impacted by text-based content, so productive websites have this component generally covered from capable vendors. For physicians who hope to write their own copy, here are some tough questions:
- Does the physician write at the proper patient audience level?
- Does the physician know the latest trends for keyword placement and keyword density? Do they know the keywords?
- Is the physician’s copy 100 percent unique and of sufficient length relevant to available search traffic for a particular page topic? Does it tell a story in a proper format to resonate with both readers and search engines?
- How does writing website copy compare in value to a practice with having physicians in surgery, treatment or consult with patients?
Will investing in a good website grow my business?
CSF: Yes, but it’s important to understand you’re investing in your website as a tool to help grow your business. No matter how thoughtfully designed and interactive your website may be, if you don’t include the necessary information your patients seek, then your website is not reaching its full potential.
* Helpful tip: If you’re a specialty physician, having a website makes it easier for colleagues to make referrals to your practice.
Incredible Marketing: Yes! This incremental increase in conversion equals a massive increase in revenue!
Doctor.com: Investing in a good website alone won’t help you grow your business. The modern-day patient has higher expectations and more control than ever when it comes to where they seek care. They have no qualms about shopping around for a healthcare provider. A good website is important in establishing credibility with patients. But if it isn’t complemented by a robust, thoughtfully built-out online presence and backed up by great patient reviews, no matter how terrific it is, it won’t impact your bottom line.
MetaMed Marketing: Not only do good websites grow businesses; for medical practices, they offer other critical advantages:
- Targeting – Practices with good websites focus on patients for specific procedures, demographics, medical conditions and geographical territories.
- Metrics – Truly good websites closely monitor, measure and report on performance, making all this information transparent directly to practices. In digital marketing, there is more capability for performance tracking than any other traditional marketing channel. The key in successfully using performance tracking is knowing which metrics to follow, how often to check and how to use this information to your advantage for continual performance improvement.
- Choices – Successful practices use their good websites to earn significant Return on Investment (ROI). This ROI then opens the door for bigger and bolder initiatives. Practices with good websites can bring on additional principal physicians, staff, or equipment, as well as plan to have resources ready ahead of time to meet demand.
How do I know my website needs improvement?
- If you’re not getting any business online! (Your website should be your main driver).
If your site is not mobile responsive
- Outdated offerings, information, branding/logo
- If your site is not consistent on all pages (style, navigations, branding, etc.)
- If it is not comparable to your competitors’ sites
CSF: Simply put, your website should include any and all information a person needs when they are searching online. If a patient contacts your office for standard information that could be easily included on the website, then it’s time for improvement. A website should never require someone to fill out their personal information to grant them access to learn more about a practice – that person will be gone in a click!
Doctor.com: As a medical professional, you need to treat all of your digital properties — from your own website to your profiles on third-party sites — as avenues to showcase your personality, differentiate yourself from competitors, and earn the trust of prospective patients. If your site or broader online presence hasn’t seen a refresh in the past couple of years, it’s long overdue. Some clear signs your site needs improving include a confusing navigation, outdated internal linking and 404s, old headshots, hard-to-find calls to action, and/or a lack of social proof built into the framework.
MetaMed Marketing: Practices that monitor their site performance continuously track inquiries. With this information, they estimate ROI. When elective healthcare practices don’t demonstrably generate this minimum level of performance, or when practices are uninformed about their own site performance, it’s time for a vendor-neutral website assessment. Productive vendor-neutral site assessments review aesthetics, content, SEO, usability, use of conversion tactics, and adherence to medical marketing laws—at a minimum.
The experts have spoken. In order to have a best-in-class website, you need:
- clear calls to action
- easily accessible and simple contact forms
- mobile responsiveness
A thoughtfully designed website provides medical information and practical information. A strong website equals a strong online presence which creates credibility for you and your practice.
The result is more patients coming in your door and trusting you to help them.
Any lack of information or outdated information harms the credibility of your practice causing potential patients visit other sites to find what they are looking for.
Continuously review your website – annually, monthly, bi-weekly! Do what makes sense for you and your team. You can’t create it and walk away. Take care of your website and maintain it.