A practical guide to improving your website to deliver great results…
This article will address these three major topics:
- What do your patients want and look for on your website
- From your practice’s perspective – What should you have on your website
- What website features and functionality will help to deliver marketing, time and cost savings.
This article will provide you with tactics, strategies and practical points to improve your website, including:
- Quick fixes
- Key industry research and influences to help with your decision making
- Medical industry and medical parctice challenges you face
- Why a mobile website is a must
- Website deign must reflect your practice
- Delete information that is no longer relevant
- Ensure your website is easy to navigate
- List of information you should have on your website
- How to get found online
- Finding your strategic advantage
- Building trust
- Online appointment bookings
Stemming from this article you will be able to set your medical practice’s website up to:
- Save time – Allowing users to quickly find what they need and reduce your staff spending time on repetitive tasks
- Reduce running costs – Streamline systems and information to reduce duplication
- Maximise appointments – It’s your practice’s key marketing tool
- Improve patient care and awareness – Provide the key information your patients are looking for.
What are the industry challenges faced by all medical practices?
The increasingly competitive medical marketplace:
- Medical costs continue to rise globally at around 6% – Towers Watson Research
- Websites are the dominant marketing medium for medical practitioners – Medical Journal Australia
- Patients are educating themselves online – Dr Google is alive and well…. unfortunately.
Day to day medical practices challenges include:
- Attracting new patients – Maximising income
- Why should patients choose your practice over the competition and keep coming back?
- Reducing practice running costs
- Improving patient care and communication
- Maximising marketing dollar return on investment
- Increased competition from like and alternate practitioners
- Be noticed as a great practice manager
Let’s highlight the trends and compelling figures from the Australian Marketing Statistics 2015 Report:
- 84% of all business and medical searches are now done online
- 85% of Australians access the internet via mobile devices
- 90% of customers check your website before contacting you
- 50% of customers prefer an online self service option – Growing trend
These statistics are the tell tale sign of the times – Focus your efforts online. Now you know the statistical backing to focus your efforts online and the motivations driving the industry, so let’s get back to the practical website improvement solutions.
Lets dive into the practical website improvement solutions.
1. What are new and current patients looking for on your website
a) You have heard this before – Your website must be mobile friendly. Here’s why:
A 2014 Google survey found that:
- 61% of people were likely to leave a website if it wasn’t mobile friendly
- 74% of visitors were more likely to return to mobile friendly website
That’s 61% of potential business that you won’t have a chance of landing
if your website is not mobile friendly!
Do you remember Nokia mobile phones?
(Everyone had one of these in the late 90’s early 2000’s)
They did not adapt to change and where are they now? You would be lucky to find one. It’s the same with your practice. You may be humming along now, but if you don’t adapt and use mobile website technology to help people find you then you risk going the way of Nokia.
Another compelling reason:
What does your current website design say about your medical practice:
- Old and dated or professional and modern.
Does your website represent your brand well? Trends change, images date, information may not be relevant anymore, Google changes what it looks for in its website ranking algorithm. Every year you should go over your website to take stock of the content and the relevance to your practice and patients.
- Delete information if it is not relevant anymore.
Every 4-5 years your website may need a large overhaul. Consider refreshing your content, using new images and ensure your website is following current best practice principals.
Is your website difficult to navigate
- Keep it simple and easy to follow.
I see this quite often. A homepage of a medical website (GP and physiotherapists mostly) that has 30 links or more. Even a bank that offers hundreds of services struggle to put this many links on their homepage. Keep it simple and clean.
2. What information should you have on your practice’s website
You should have the following on your website to meet practice and patient needs:
- Featuring – Brief philosophy, strategic advantage, address, phone, map and links to your main services.
- Philosophy, ethos and why you are in practice – a little history may also help establish some trust.
- Brief profile of your staff members including education, professional expertise and medical medical areas of interest. Some passions outside work (include some well know logos of institutions where your staff have studied).
- List all your services
- For your key services it may be worth dedicating a page to them for Search Engine Optimisation purposes.
5. Patient information
- It’s great to have a new patients section if possible – Let them know what they need to bring for their first appointment
- For current patients – Talk to your front office team to get some ideas here – Information on rebates, privacy and appointment lengths is always useful.
- Put in appointment lengths, online forms, policy on walk in patients, home visits, recalls and reminders and cancellation policy.
- Practice fees for appointment times, how the fees are set, discounts and rebates if applicable.
- Phone number, fax, address, opening hours, map, email and parking information.
Don’t forget to ask your office staff what types of calls and questions they commonly get asked and include this information on your website.
If patients are constantly asking where to download new patient paperwork online, or if you offer evening hours, then you aren’t serving your patients well online. You are also making your office staff inefficient by answering unnecessary calls.
It’s important your website prominently features services that patients are most interested in, but also services that you would like to make patients aware of. Don’t assume your patients know all your practice has to offer.
If patients have trouble finding the information they need on your site they will leave and search your competitors websites.
3. What website features and functionality will help to deliver marketing, time and cost savings
Is your practice’s website an effective marketing tool
Patients research online for doctors and make decisions based on what they see and read. Your website’s job is:
- First and foremost – To be easily found online
- Secondly – Strategically lay out all the information patients need to make the decision to choose your practice.
First – Be easily found online
How do patients find your practice online – Mostly through search engines including Google, Yahoo or Bing.
On-page Search Engine Optimisation
In order for patients to find your practice you need your website needs to contain key words that your patients search for. For example if you are a Dentist located in St Kilda, your website needs to feature key words Dentist St Kilda. This is called on page Search Engine Optimisation.
Off-page Search Engine Optimisation
The other important factor is called ‘Off Page Search Engine Optimisation’. This involves links coming back to your website from important and relevant sources such as:
- Google profiles
- Yahoo local listings
- Yellow pages and White pages
- Business directories
Search Engine Optimisation is key to finding your medical practice online and it is well worth the investment.
Not convinced then look at the statistics – A study done in 2013 from Search Engine Watch showing the amount of organic traffic businesses receive from Google search results given their positioning on the page:
|Google search results||Average traffic share|
|Number 1 position||32.5%|
|Number 2 position||17.6%|
|Number 3 position||11.4%|
|Number 4 position||8.1%|
|Number 5 position||6.1%|
|Number 6 position||4.4%|
For every position lower on the page in Google your chances drop dramatically of people finding your practice.
There are around 250 factors that are involved in Search Engine Optimisation. If you would like to find out more about Search Engine Optimisation visit – Search Engine Optimisation for Doctors and Dentists.
What’s your strategic advantage?
Why should patients choose your practice and not your competition down the road?
I ask all my clients these two questions – The answers are usually:
- I don’t know or;
- We offer great service and price
It is very hard to differentiate on service and price. In most cases it’s best to stay away from these areas. There are a myriad of areas you can explore to find your strategic advantage. The approach I recommend you look into is:
Ask your patients in a bind survey two simple questions:
- What do they most value about your services?
- What could you improve on?
These two simple questions can highlight what you do well:
A potential strategic advantage may highlight itself.
Give you an improvement list to work towards.
Both can used to highlight strengths of your practice. One practice I know did some further research as a result of their survey and found that they saw 98% of their patients on time – So they used it on their website:
We see 98% of our patients on time!
It resonated heavily with their patients and was a key strength of the practice. We have all experienced ending up in the waiting room long after our allocated appointment time. It could also be something simple like years of experience of extended opening hours.
Your strategic strength must resonate and be valuable to your patients and you must nurture it within your practice.
Patients use practitioners they trust and like
How do you convey this on your website – Try these ideas:
- Highlight your years of experience
- How long have you been operating in the community
- Show logos of reputable educational institutions where you gained your qualifications
- Show logos of reputable iinstitutions you are members of
- Show you have an SSL certificate on your website
- Showcase a testimonial about how friendly and approachable you are
- Highlight any community events you support
If a patient goes to your website and then your competitor’s website and can’t find one thing that sets the two of you a part then you aren’t doing a good job of marketing your differentiators.
Your website must be able to quickly grab patients’ attention, engage them, and have strong calls to action in order to convert website traffic to actual patients.
Saving time and money via online appointment bookings
What does the research say about online appointment bookings:
- 50% of people would like the option to book their appointments online
- Online bookings are hard to implement.
- “We would never have online appointment bookings at our practice …it goes against the level of service we like to show our patients.”
- It’s too expensive.
The key to online bookings:
In terms of cost – Up to 40% of front office staff time is spent on the phone booking appointments. If online bookings reduced this time by 30% that would easily offset the cost of putting an online booking system in place. You can also implement SMS appointment reminders via online bookings to reduce missed appointments and maximise income.
Too difficult due to the different appointment lengths – I know one practice that has 12 different combinations for their online appointments. They make it work.
Online appointment bookings are about what the patient wants – From a service perspective, online bookings are available 24/7. A patient does not have to wait for your practice to open to book. If you are looking to improve your service, isn’t it better to have something a patient is seeking and letting them have access to your services, when they want them and how they want to access them?
I hope you enjoyed this article – Your medical practice’s website should be doing this in 2017
This article was designed to help you take the basic steps to set your website up for success. Whilst this list is by no means exhaustive it provides the foundation you can use to improve your websites results.
“Our strategic approach to website design and online marketing has delivered great results for the vast majority of medical practices we work with!
If you have any questions please feel free to call or email me.”
David Douglas – Medical Website Solutions