5 tips for medical practice websites
Websites are "the new storefront” these days, and medical practices should not be missing out on the opportunity, says one expert. However, he points out that they "are a constant evolution,” and so it's important to "lay the right foundation.”
Mike Cuesta, director of marketing at CareCloud, a Web-based medical practice management software firm in Miami, offered some tips for medical practices when it comes to creating and maintaining websites.
- Patient registration and forms. Ensure patients can make appointments, register and access important forms no matter where they are. Cuesta says practices can use a patient portal or provide a PDF version of the registration form on their website. Putting the registration form under “new patient” or “welcome” on one's site will allow patients to find it easily, he adds.
- Timely news and updates. Make sure to display recent blog, news and other alerts or updates to make sure the website looks fresh and timely. This helps patients feel comfortable that their doctor is engaged with the community and current issues. It also makes the practice look “fresher, bigger and more sophisticated,” says Cuesta. Practices will also be “rewarded’ by Google, he says, if they show they are constantly updating, the site and “will rank higher than other practices."
- Accessible contact information. Display contact information clearly on every page. Cuesta recommends putting it in the top right corner. Also, make sure it shows up on local search results, and include the address on the footer of each page.
- Patient education resources. Patients are relying more and more on the Internet for medical information and news, which can often lead to confusion and inaccurate diagnoses. Cuesta says medical practices should provide patients with their own content, links and resources to help with research while ensuring it's aligned with their treatment plans.
- Services and insurance. List all services and insurance companies your that are accepted, says Cuesta. Practices should keep this open-ended, he adds, so that if the patient’s insurer is not listed, he or she can call for options. “The financial responsibility is moving more toward the patient. The end goal is to educate on them on what their financial options are,” he said. For example, some practices are now taking cash, he said.
Cuesta also said practices should provide mobile access to the website and local search optimization. Local search optimization can be provided by using a free Google directory – called Google Places for Business – and Yelp, a directory that is driven by comments and reviews. Yelp is commonly used to find restaurants, he said, but there is no reason why doctors should be left out.