A website that simply contains your basic practice contact details and offerings will no longer cut it if you really want to engage with today’s visually led, digitally savvy patients. Yet many practices remain complacent when it comes to web presence and digital engagement, placing them at risk of digital disruption by new and more agile health industry players.
Patients want peace of mind
Referred or self-referred, prior to making an appointment many patients conduct their own due diligence and will go online to acquaint themselves with the practice and the practitioners, including through any reviews or testimonials.
Research in 2015 revealed obstetrics and gynaecology websites were booming in Germany, Austria and Switzerland due to demand by expectant mothers looking for trusted practitioners.
This means little or no internet presence runs the risk of patients looking elsewhere to find competitors that provide peace of mind via their online presence.
A digital assistant that is open 24/7
Your website works tirelessly every day, 24/7 with no breaks or sick days, which means patients can access your website any time, anywhere to not only learn about you and your practice but also contact you easily and book appointments.
Having an online booking form available on your website can enhance patient experience from the moment they quickly and easily book an appointment with you and also save your reception and administration team valuable time, allowing them to attend to more complex matters.
A source of health information that’s better than Dr Google
According to MedicalDirector’s recent Patient Engagement Survey, conducted with online appointment and ehealth platform HotDoc, patients expect more information about their health than they are currently receiving from their GPs.
It found most patients (78 per cent) are resorting to searching online to find out more about their conditions, both before and after their consultations. But a majority (80 per cent) say they preferred the information to come from their GPs website, assuming it is of high quality.
Dr Charlotte Middleton, GP and Chief Medical Advisor at MedicalDirector, agrees while this can potentially be resolved by providing patients with fact sheets or links to valuable resources on doctors’ websites, it may not be necessary to “reinvent the wheel”.
“Doctors need to be a trusted source of information but it’s not practical to necessarily have all that information on the doctor’s or practice website,” Middleton said.
“Rather, the website can redirect patients to good quality, evidence-based resources and information that the doctor trusts.
“If the website doesn’t provide this kind of information, the doctor should have these resources close at hand and be able to provide it to the patient during the consultation - for example, by using factsheets.”
Complacency opens the door for tech-savvy competitors
For general or specialist practices that are already at full capacity, having a strong Internet presence could seem like a low priority and even a waste of time and money. However, even if you have a comfortable referral stream or loyal patients, that can all change if more competitors who understand how to engage with patients in more effective ways enter your space.
At the same time, things can change rapidly in healthcare. Over-reliance on a single channel for new patients, or referrals from traditional sources, could all change, especially as healthcare becomes a more interoperable, digital ecosystem.
So even busy and ‘at capacity’ doctors and medical practices need to develop a powerful web presence to ensure their patient stream isn’t disrupted by new, more digitally enabled competitors.
Final tips for a great medical website
1. Make your website user-friendly: Having a website that markets your practice and boosts patient engagement and loyalty requires an approach that truly embraces the intersection between digital transformation patient-centricity. Ensure your website is both user-friendly and mobile responsive, so patients can find you and interact with your practice on the go.
2. Engage patients with the right resources: Your website is a valuable tool you can use to boost patient engagement and loyalty. For instance, you can offer important factsheets and useful links for patients to help better understand and manage their conditions. This lets the patient know that their consult doesn’t end at your door and that you are willing to continue to offer additional information via useful and quality digital resources.
3. Offer patients an online booking system: Your website can help direct your patients to book their appointments online, which means enabling a more seamless booking experience for busy, time-poor patients. This can also alleviate any frustrations should your reception be busy and the patient can’t get through via telephone.
4. Amplify what sets you apart: It's critical to use your website to amplify to your patients what truly sets you apart. This is especially important if your practice or your specialist field is highly competitive within your region. You can also integrate your social media channels within your website to further amplify your messaging and engage with your patients in more dynamic ways.