Physician practices of all sizes and specialties rarely maximize the impact they could have with a website. It’s a common problem, so common that I have developed worksheets and checklists for my clients. Typically, either the practice doesn’t have a website at all, or it is not regularly maintained.
If your practice doesn’t have a website, then your first step is to get a site — TODAY.
The bigger challenge is what to do with your site once you have it.
You probably know the basics, but just in case, here they are:
1. Look into a user-friendly website platform. WordPress, for example, offers is one of the best platforms for your website. With a little shopping around you can get a great, professional WordPress site designed for about $300. Hosting and domain purchase and registration will cost about $70 per year. I advise you to use a hosted WordPress site in lieu of one originating from WordPress.com or WordPress.org.
Acquiring a hosted WordPress site it simple: Purchase your domain name and hosting through a provider such as Godaddy.com. Then visit their apps section and load WordPress onto your hosting account by following their instructions. Your website will have the same interface as a site originating from WordPress.com or .org EXCEPT you will have many more options for themes and editing and much more control over the site.
2. Check for easy loading. Your site should take less than three to four seconds to load. Avoid dense, heavy graphics, animations, auto-started videos or music, and pop-up ads that monopolize the entire screen until you close out or click thru the ad. (Pop-ups that float can be useful for mailing lists if you test them in your market and determine if they are right for you.)
3. Your page should be viewable on all browsers and all mobile devices. Patients/customers/clients come from all browsers; you will have a fair amount of Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome users that come to your site. Make sure that your content is viewed easily on at least the top three browsers. Also, in this day and age, many people will be using their smartphones and tablets to find you online, so make sure you have a mobile page option (very easy to set in WordPress) and ensure that viewers can turn it on and off.
4. Connect to social media. Use your web site to drive patients/clients/customers to your clinic’s Facebook fan page, Twitter account, LinkedIn company profile, and even YouTube channel if you have one.
If you hate dealing with technical issues, then make it easy on yourself and your practice manager and get a little assistance from practice management consultation firm who can either be the communicator between your practice and your designer (and even find that designer for you) or give your practice manager the tools necessary to get the work done right.
Your web presence is far too important to leave to chance. Without technology to make sure the metrics, analytics, and technology are going well, your practice’s image could get stale, which can seriously detract from your practice’s bottom line.
Here are the most important parts:
1. How recently has your site been updated? If you have to think about how long it’s been, then it’s been too long. Your website should be updated at a minimum of once per month. Check to make sure that all of your copyright dates are updated. Make sure that your professional photo is up to date (no fresh-out-of-med-school glamour shots, unless you are really fresh out of medical school).
2. Do you have a blog and do you use it? Blogs can be very important in connecting with your patients and potential patients. Statistically somewhere between 60-80 percent (depending on the source) of Internet users look up medical information online; if you have a blog with small posts about the aspects or ailments you are most passionate about, your site will become a living resource. Blog posts on your site can be just as detrimental if your last post was months or years ago. Aim for one to two posts per month: At least one should be original information, the other could link to and discuss an interesting article or information from another trusted source. Sprinkle in a few posts about events or a particular upcoming holiday and you are running a well-maintained blog.
It is important to utilize someone in your office to proofread your posts or even a freelance editor to check your copy for errors (I do it!). You want to make sure that you aren’t frightening educated patients who may be turned off by grammatical errors. Be careful to ensure that your editor doesn’t remove your “voice” from the post.
Make sure you aren’t shortchanging your practice with a limited website or dated image. Successful practices are not run on old-school methods. Step your web presence up a notch by taking advantage of the many ways your new patients can connect with your practice online.
Do you have a question about a practice management issue in your clinic? Would you like some ideas on how to fix a problem? Submit your anonymous questions to Ask Audrey and practice management expert Audrey “Christie” McLaughlin, RN, will answer them in a future Practice Notes blog.