computerIs your practice’s website in need of an upgrade (or 12)?  Before pulling the trigger, there are a few things you will want to make sure your shiny new website has so it delivers the desired number of patients and referrals to your front door.

Your website is one of the top ways to attract, engage, nurture and convert potential patients into appointments. Competition for online prominence and search engine ranking is fierce as people in every age group turn to the Internet to look up information about their health issue, who can treat it and how well their current (or potential) doctor is rated by other patients.

In other words, your website is more important than ever; so here’s three things your new practice website must have:

Content Management System (CMS)

Your site should be built in a reputable content management system (CMS) that’s easy to use and flexible enough to make easy changes. We recommend WordPress for all of our clients because of those two reasons. Not only that, but WordPress has a seemingly endless supply of security updates and new functionalities thanks to “plugins” that extend what your site can do.

If you know how to use Microsoft Word, it’s not a big leap to updating content with WordPress (which comes in real handy if you move/add an office, gain/lose a doctor, or want to post details about an upcoming event). Plus, good, quality content is essential for search engine optimization (SEO) so you’ll need to be able to make new posts often to help improve your search ranking.

Responsive Design and Clean Layout

Okay, so we know the site will be built with WordPress. Now comes the fun part: design and layout. Modern medical practice websites are clean, uncluttered and easy to read.

responsive_featureMake sure your chosen layout uses responsive web design (RWD). This is a practice where sites are coded to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices. You’ve seen this with websites that look different on your phone, on your work computer and on your tablet. With mobile device browsing topping desktops for the first time ever in 2014, this is a key design element you simply cannot miss out on.

AnalyticsWe also know through analytics that, above all else, there are typically four things patients always reference most on medical practice websites without fail: locations, physicians, forms and the schedule an appointment button. We suggest highlighting these four options on the homepage in addition to just having the tabs in your main navigation.

The four most viewed areas on most practice websites should be highlighted on your front page, usually somewhere near the top half of the page.

The four most viewed areas on most practice websites should be highlighted on your front page, usually somewhere near the top half of the page.

Useful Buttons

Sounds easy enough, right? Patients looking at your website are typically there to find out one of the four things mentioned above, but there are some secondary pages that drive a lot of traffic (and dollars) as well. Create buttons in the header area of your new site that allow patients to easily take an action. By placing these buttons in the header, patients can see and access these options easily from anywhere on your website without digging.

A few well placed buttons can really help your bottom line.

A few well placed buttons can really help your bottom line.

Typically, we find the buttons that work best lead to three key areas of your website. These include your:

  • Patient Portal – We’ve had a practice administrator tell us the button has increased portal use “10-fold because patients can actually find the thing now.” On their old site it was buried under the Patient Resources tab and some patients had a problem finding it.
  • Online Bill Pay Option – The head of an ENT practice’s A/R department we work with shared in a meeting that online bill payment has gone up 30% since moving the button to the top of the page. This is the same idea as the patient portal, but the external link just heads to the online bill pay merchant.
  • Appointment Request – Create a simple web form that collects some basic data and has an option to choose a location and physician so your patients can send a request to your office. Designate a staffer to be responsible for opening the emails and confirming or moving the appointment and informing the patient. Last year alone, one of our clients scheduled more than 1,200 appointments from their online appointment request form. Granted, some of these may have called for an appointment … but some may not have. We avoid any sort of HIPAA violation by using an SSL certificate to protect patient data that’s transmitted to the website’s secure server.