Make Your Medical Practice Website Worth the Cost

September 14, 2012

Are you throwing money down a bottomless digital pit? How to tell if your medical practice’s website is operating at a loss.

Robert Kyosaki, author of the book, "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," introduced Americans to the idea that their houses are not assets, as most imagine. He says that assets bring cash into your pockets; liabilities take cash out of your pockets.

Pretty simple, right?

You can and should apply this principle to any area of your medical practice.

Does your nurse or your billing coordinator cost you money every month or yield you a net profit?

Does your physician assistant bring in more than she costs you in salary and benefits?

Knowing the numbers is foundational to success in any of our business endeavors - your website is no exception.

Think of your website as any other business investment. It’s in the marketing category. Some doctors like to think of it as being in the "patient education" category, which is fine, but it’s harder to find the line item for that on the balance sheet.

But Noel, do I really need to figure this out?

If you don’t get this question of liability versus asset figured out, you can waste almost unlimited money on a website and all that goes with it (social media, video marketing, blogging, etc.).

Some of the worst offenders are websites in the "me too" category. Sites that look like the fancy website of your competitor down the street.

The more beautiful, the slicker, the more trendy, and design-focused a medical website is, the more suspicious I am that the physician owners are shoveling money into a bottomless pit underneath the site.

How to find out if your site is hurting or helping your bottom line

First, to even answer the question requires interest in knowing the answer. Some physicians are comfortable remaining blissfully ignorant.

Decide now if you’ll be victimized by website design companies, blindly writing checks and dumping money into a non-producing liability, or whether you’ll take a keen and calculating interest in this key area of marketing your practice.

Second, know your costs.

Here is a list of items you should get down on paper. Your staff or website developer/webmaster should have a firm grasp on this:
• website setup costs (design, starting-up costs)
• website hosting costs (usually monthly or yearly)
• website upkeep/maintenance costs (usually monthly)
• search engine optimization (SEO) (usually ongoing)
• social media recurring costs

You may not even know your practice is paying for these things on a monthly basis. Find out. Get the numbers.

Third, find out what revenues can be tied directly to your website and other online marketing efforts:
• Are you tracking how patients find you?
• How many of them searched on Google for you?
• What did they type into Google when they searched?
• For the patients who found you online, what revenue did that patient contribute? Are you tracking this?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can start to form a strategy for tweaking, improving, and optimizing your website’s usefulness to the bottom line of your practice.

Even if you decide you’d rather lose money and have a cool website, at least you’ll know the actual cost of being cool.

Somehow, though, I doubt you’ll be comfortable with such a reality.

Find out more about C. Noel Henley and our other Practice Notes bloggers.