Give Your Medical Practice Website a Checkup

June 19, 2014

Your website says a lot about who you are as a physician, and how you run your practice. Be sure that message is one you want to project to prospective patients.

Physician practices of all sizes and specialties rarely maximize the impact they could have with a practice website. Usually I see practice websites with one of three problems: a practice doesn't have any website at all; a practice has an abandoned/outdated website (even worse); or a practice has a website that is difficult to operate. This is not rocket science, nor does it cost a mint. No matter who your ideal patient is, an online presence is a must. Here are a few statistics for you:

• As of January 2014, 87 percent of adults in the United States use the Internet;

• A whopping 72 percent of Americans looked online for health information in the last 12 months;

• The most commonly searched for topics are specific diseases or symptoms, doctors, and medical procedures; and

• Sixty-one percent of local Internet searches result in a phone call.

So where does that leave you?

Your website is a tool to help you reach and educate your patients. If you are looking to reach your patients, you need to be where they are, your information has to be accessible, you must consistently rank high in the search engines, and you must continuously put out accurate and timely health information for your current and prospective patients.

Let's have a look at your site and give it a little "check-up" of its own. Look at your website through your ideal patient's eyes, and answer "yes" or "no" to these general questions:

• Can you find important information on your website in the first 3 to 5 seconds?

• Does your website seek to solve your problems as a patient? (Rather than talking about you, your pedigree, or your practice.)

• Does your website position the providers as trustworthy experts?

• Is the website free of distracting design elements, and flash, video, or other elements that do not serve a useful purpose?

• Does your website look the same in all browsers? (Safari, Chrome, and Internet Explorer.)

• Does your website give clear instructions on how to perform tasks such as filling out forms, contacting the office, finding you on social media, or the location of important information?

Make sure you aren't shortchanging your practice with a limited website and dated image. Successful practices are not run on old-school methods. I talk to practice owners and particularly physician-owners that are veterans in their specialty, yet are looking around at their empty practices and closing their ancillary locations. A little research always indicates these practices have failed at customer service and failed to market their practice effectively.

Your Web presence is far too important to leave to chance. Step up your Web presence a notch by taking advantage of the many ways new or potential patients can connect with your practice online.