Villing & Company

Can Healthcare Provider Websites Go From Drab to Fab?

I can’t help but notice how fast websites across various industries have kept pace with both changing consumer demands and emerging technology. It’s no easy feat, as budgets decrease — or at best, remain tight while the demands on in-house marketing teams and external marketing partners increase exponentially. But unfortunately, most healthcare provider websites lag behind in terms of user experience and engaging content. 

Analytics often point to “pay my bill” as one of the most visited hospital site pages, right up there with “directions.” The conclusions drawn from that can lead decision-makers to the false notion that their customers (aka patients) and prospective customers (aka future patients) must not really be interested in the other 40,000+ pages of content on their sites.

Not so fast. What if it’s that they can’t find what they want — or get tired of looking for it?  Too often the information is buried behind unfriendly information architecture and headings using industry jargon like “physician” and “service line” instead of “doctor” and “conditions/treatments.”

At last, healthcare providers and marketers are rethinking their sites and getting more serious about how they can put patients first by creating an improved digital encounter. With the Affordable Care Act and the shift from volume to value reimbursements in the works for providers, a visually appealing site with a patient-focused experience is key to a site’s long-term health.

Here are some obvious but often overlooked points for a healthcare marketer’s website check-up:

Location, location, location: Look at the layout of your homepage. Yes, this is still the most valuable real estate you have, so use it wisely and in ways that are most meaningful to your visitors. Is “Make an Appointment” front and center, instead of the week’s events?

Going mobile: Is your site responsive and mobile friendly? More than half of a healthcare provider’s website traffic comes from phones and tablets, so it’s important to look good and function well on large and small screens. If yours doesn’t, make it a priority. And P.S.: in 2015, 75.1 percent of the mobile phone population accessed the Internet from a mobile phone. This figure is expected to grow to 85.6 percent by 2018. 

The video game:  The average Internet user spends 88 percent more time on a website with video. You can make a modest but strategic investment in video, repurposing content across channels (social networks and your website). Easy places to start with video include doctors’ bios, information about new physicians, health tips, patient stories, treatment options and facility features.

Social animal: Make sure your hospital has a Facebook page and is active on Twitter — and be sure to include those links on your homepage as well as on collateral materials and news releases. Patients use social media to research symptoms, and today’s healthcare consumers — particularly Gen X and Gen Y— use social media to educate themselves on individual doctors, healthcare facilities, treatment options and other healthcare topics.

S-E-Oh: You’ll reach the public better if you’re optimized for common healthcare searches. Also, be sure to share your web content on social media. And remember to check what inbound links you have from quality websites. All these will help your SEO—really.

Blog it: Publish a blog with fresh content every few days to attract more visitors and play better with search engines. Bonus: you may even become a thought leader and/or expert source that local media, referral sources and consumers can rely on.

These are pretty basic, I know…but have you given your site a check-up lately? Go ahead. I promise it won’t hurt.

Filed Under: Healthcare

Villing & Company

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