Patient’s internet research is now more influential that referrals.
If you’re hoping to attract new patients, you must ensure your practice website sets the right tone. A growing body of research, including a recent survey of 1,000 consumers by Kyruus, shows that more patients are basing their selection of physician (whether that be a PCP or specialist) on internet research rather than referrals.
Regardless of the type of provider consumers are seeking, results from the survey indicate that more than half are going online to research providers, with 51% of those who conduct their own research ultimately finding their provider online.
Despite the growing importance of practice websites in attracting new patients, most practices haven’t made them a priority. As a result, they often serve as a barrier to practice growth, rather than an opportunity.
Here are some of the most common website mistakes we see practices make, and how your practice can avoid them:
1. Underdeveloped sites. Consumers can easily tell if your website hasn’t been given proper resources or attention. If they find that yours is lacking, they will suspect that you don’t have funds to invest in it, or that you are out of step with the times. Both assumptions will hinder your ability to grow. If your website is outdated or needs a refresh, gather your team and make a plan to make improvements. You may want to consider assistance from a marketing firm with medical practice-specific expertise related to website design and visual branding.
2. Vague or cliched copy. In my last article, I wrote about the importance of crafting your unique value proposition (or what sets your practice apart from the competition). This value proposition should be highlighted throughout your website copy. If you’re not sure how to get started with crafting the copy, consider this question: If you only had three sentences to explain the type of care you provide and why it’s better than your competitors, what would you say? Take time to form your response, then run it by your colleagues and others you trust. If they affirm that your response is credible and compelling, begin to use it as your North Star when modifying your copy.
3. Failure to foster a connection. Patients want doctors who appear personable and empathetic. To help prospective patients get to know your doctors, create short video segments in which they discuss their background and care philosophy. Also, add professional portraits of physicians and short bios. Make sure the photography is not overly formal-you want patients to view your physicians as authentic. Also, don’t rely too much on overly clinical images or stock images, as these fail to foster a connection with patients.
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4. Confusing navigation. Patients will quickly scan your site to find what they need. If they don’t find it, they will move on. Take a few minutes to navigate your site and make sure the following is prominently displayed:
Information about your doctors and their care philosophies
A list of the treatments you offer and the conditions you treat
Your contact information
Insurances you accept
Online appointment booking or the ability to request an appointment
Quality metrics and outcomes data
5. No patient testimonials. Quality metrics and other outcomes-related information will help attract patients, but positive patient testimonials will have an even bigger impact. Jot down the names of some patients who might be willing to share how you have positively impacted their lives, then ask them to write a short testimonial that you can post on your site. If you have the resources, capture their stories on video.
6. Poor search engine optimization (SEO). It’s clear that consumers are searching for practices online, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are finding your website. This is one area in which you may need to secure assistance from an outside professional. These individuals can audit your website and provide recommendations to ensure that your website copy is SEO-friendly, meaning that it includes keywords and phrases that will help your practice appear at the top of search results.
Remember: Your website serves as your first impression for a growing number of patients. What they find plays a significant role in whether they choose to seek care from you or seek it elsewhere. It’s time to put your best foot forward-your bottom line depends on it.
Boh Hatter is Chief Marketing Officer at Sage Growth Partners, a healthcare research, strategy, and marketing consultancy. He is also Chief Advisor of Marketing Strategies at Scale Physician Group, which partners with physician organizations to help them grow. With more than 30 years of experience as a marketing executive, he specializes in strategy, messaging, visual branding, public relations, and website development.