Let’s say you’re trying to get hold of a doctor—not an emergency phone call (that’s really simple, dial 911!!) but a doctor to diagnose if your sore throat is just that, a sore throat, or a possible sign of something worse. You think, maybe they have the answer online and I can reach them that way, because it hurts to talk. You pick up their business card and…there’s only a phone number. You’re forced, then, to risk your health by talking on the phone when really your sore throat needs to heal.
This is why medical professionals should have more than a phone number, they need to have a website. Aside from the fictional scenario above, there are many reasons why they need a website. For example, they may be a specialist who primarily assists elderly patients, but then they only provide a phone number and get calls from moms and dads looking to help children instead of their target audience.
Whatever the reason, if you’re a medical professional or a specialist in a field of medicine, it’s time to offer your patients a great website—not just a working one, but a great one. Here’s what that website will need.
1: Contact information
Having a website is pointless if you don’t put your contact information on it. After all, if you want your patients to find you, you need to make sure you’re visible online. You also need to create a Google account and add your business information to your profile, including your website.
It’s a good idea to register your business with other trustworthy sites such as Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Angie’s List. Although Google is considered the most widely used search engine, it’s important to cover your bases by adding your practice’s information to Bing and Yahoo as well—you may find that one search engine results in higher traffic to your website than the others!
Make sure all of your contact information on these websites are exactly correct and up to date—don’t go listing your practice right before moving locations, for example. Redoing your address online when it’s incorrect is harder to do than it looks! For more information on directories check out our blog post on the subject.
2: A clear purpose
What do you want your patients to do when they reach your website? Do you want them to find out information you have to offer that’s from your unique perspective? Do you want them to simply book an appointment? Do you have anything to offer patients aside from your services, for example a book you wrote or tools that can help them which can’t be found anywhere else?
Aside from finding where you are, this should be your second most important concern. You should answer any such questions as the aforementioned ones in order to have proper website design. That way, you can feature a compelling headline for your landing page and then go from there. After all, great web design is more than just great imagery (although that helps too!), it’s about giving your patients a positive online experience. Speaking of images, this is what you need next:
3: Great content (that won’t scare patients away)
When it comes to having great content on your website, we’re referring to both the images you put online as well as the written text. Everyone knows that going to the doctor is important, but there are patients out there with extreme anxiety and a fear of pain to the point where they’d rather live with severe health issues than visit a doctor. It’s a challenge to create content that is meaningful to patients without triggering their phobia, but it can be done right.
Let’s start with what not to feature on your medical website, content-wise:
- Close-up photos of medical problems such as tooth decay, cancerous tumours, bone breaks, spider bites—basically any images that will turn a website into a carnival of horrors!
- Jargon—just because you’re a professional who is used to writing medical terms does not mean your patients are used to reading it! Ditch the jargon and keep your written content simple and easy enough to understand.
- Negativity—by this we mean describing only painful, icky subject matter on your website and in your blog. Not everybody wants to know the in-depth details of a surgical procedure before they’ve even spoken to you!
Basically, having a good bedside manner both when you’re speaking to patients in real life as well as in the way you present your website’s content will benefit your practice in the long run. Examples of content people may genuinely want to see from your website can include profiles of you and your staff (if any), success stories about helping your patients, your response to industry-related news, and even talking about local community events you’re a part of. Your content doesn’t have to be in-depth medical descriptions; it needs to reach out on a human level.
4: Transparency (a.k.a. trust)
No one is going to want service from you if you hide your professional medical background from the world. The best way to give your patients more confidence to reach out to you when they need to is by being transparent and building a sense of trust between you and your patients. You can do this by listing your credentials and accomplishments on your about page.
A real photo of you on this page is also very important. It adds a sense of trust between you and patients, both those returning to you as well as new ones.
This rule of transparency should be applied to every page on your website as well, not just on one page only. Other means of creating a sense of trust when people visit your website include:
- Positive patient testimonials
- Statistical data
5: Other channels for content
By other channels we’re referring to online platforms where you can distribute and share the content you create for your website with others, i.e. social media as well as e-mail marketing platforms. Posting your content to your website is great and all, but if you want to go the extra mile and build an audience that leads to new patients, you’re going to have to extend past your own website to send out content.
An e-mail newsletter is a good way to send content to those who don’t use social media often (or know how to), and social media is great to reach younger audiences such as parents. Stick with the channel you think will benefit your audience the most.
So, do you need help with one or more of the essentials we’ve described? If you’re a medical professional and need assistance with your website, or want to get one period, contact us at V3 Media. We also offer one-on-one consultation for those who really don’t know what else their website needs!