Does your practice have a Web site? Why not?

November 19, 2009

If I can book a dinner reservation online, why not a doctor’s appointment? I am of the generation that thinks – in general - if it’s not online, it doesn’t really exist, or at least it’s not worth looking into.

If I can book a dinner reservation online, why not a doctor’s appointment? I am of the generation that thinks – in general - if it’s not online, it doesn’t really exist, or at least it’s not worth looking into. If I’m looking for a store or restaurant, an article or stat, really anything and everything, I first start with Google.

So why should my doctors be any different?

Physicians’ offices seem decades behind the times when it comes to an online presence. Topping the results list when I Google my doctor are sites like healthgrades, ucomparehealthcare, and vitals, which rank doctors. No Web site with health information, and of course, no blog or Twitter feed.

Does your practice have a Web site? Now, is it more than just a splash page with your address and phone number, and maybe a picture of the building or Google map? In November’s journal, we have a story about how to trick out your Web site, and it offers some really helpful – and easy – ways to make your practice’s site more engaging. I guess the first step would be to build a site, which these days, is easier than you might imagine.

In our latest annual Technology Survey, we found that 66 percent of you have Web sites, but only 23 percent were interactive, meaning patients could request appointments online.

Even that many practices claiming Web sites surprises me, because anecdotally, I rarely hear of a practice with a sophisticated Web site. But I can’t understand why. Yes, physicians are busy seeing patients and wading through paperwork, but I think an Internet presence is crucial. It’s a worthy way to connect with patients, market your practice, and offer accurate health information.

Just think of the possibilities. Your patient Googles you (or even a phrase such as “primary care doctor, St. Louis”) and up pops your site at the top of the list. There you have information on the seasonal flu and healthy living, and even a way to correspond or request an appointment. What’s the hesitation? Why are medical practices shying away from the Internet?