Healthcare News & Insights

Does your hospital’s website need a facelift?

People who come to your hospital’s website are typically in a hurry and may not be in the best mood. Since this is your chance to make a great first impression, you don’t want to screw it up. And if your hospital’s website hasn’t been updated in the past few years, there’s a very good chance you could. 

For example, if your facility’s website is incompatible or difficult to look at on a smart phone or mobile device, it needs a makeover. If your website promotes things you want patients to know about, instead of what patients want to know, it needs a makeover.

As a medical facility, you have a ton of information you want/need to convey to your audience, but you don’t want to overload people, especially when they could already be upset.

Best practices

Here are some best practices that need to be made a priority when it comes to giving your website a facelift:

  1. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. If you were a first time visitor to your facility’s website and knew very little about the hospital, you’d want to find what you were looking for with as little effort as possible. Therefore, things need to be clear, concise and organized in a logical manner.
    If the website makes people search for things, they’ll leave and find another hospital.
    To make things easy to find, create five to six main items across the top of your homepage that when hovered over have dropdown menus. For example, “About Us,” “Patients,” “Visitors,” “Staff,” “Services,” and “Forms.” Then when “Patients” is hovered over, you’d see “Forms for new patients,” “Inpatient procedures,” etc.
    This keeps your homepage free of clutter.
  2. Be specific, but don’t be wordy. Don’t label something “Doctors,” because it may cause confusion. Is it a category for doctors or where you can find a doctor? If it’s the latter, call it “Find a doctor.” On the other hand, don’t label something “About XXX hospital” when “About Us” says it faster.
  3. Make “Contact Us” prominent. Think about it. There’s nothing worse than going to a website when you’re looking for a phone number or address and you can’t find it, or it’s buried all the way at the bottom of the homepage in tiny print.
    Your contact information should stand out on your homepage and every page after that, advises Jordan Knapp, web service specialist, on Coffey Communications. Don’t stick it down in the footer. Use the footer area for things that you have to have on your site, but aren’t urgent for patients to read, such as your site map, legal information, terms of use, etc.
  4. Create patient-centered content. Very few people want to read a letter from the hospital president, so don’t put it on your homepage. If someone is sick, they want to find the specialty they are looking for. So give it to them along with all the resources they need, notes Beth Minnigerode in Best Practices For Hospital Website Content. For example, if someone clicks on “cancer,” have that page give the person tabs for treatment options, educational information, specialists, support groups, success stories, etc.
  5. Make it mobile friendly. Sure, some people will be sitting at their computer or with their laptop and look up your facility online. But many people, especially those in a big hurry, will use their smartphone or some other mobile device to look you up. And if your website isn’t mobile friendly, meaning it doesn’t automatically resize the content to fit the device, you’ll tick those people off and lose potential patients.
  6. Invest in professional pictures. Stock photos of smiling doctors don’t cut it nowadays, because they don’t personalize your facility. Professional photos of your staff helping patients or working at their desks, give potential patients and visitors a glimpse into your world and the kind of care they can expect.
  7. Give patients access to their information. Previous patients should be able to access their bills, medical records, etc., on your website. Even if you use a separate patient portal, make it accessible from your website by adding a link.
    And in the spirit of patient-centered content, if the patient clicks on that links and goes to the patient portal, explain how it works and how to set up an account if they haven’t already.

Hospitals compete for customers just like most other businesses. That’s why it’s so important to make a good first impression. So if you haven’t had your website updated in a few years, it’s time.

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