Avoid common pitfalls of healthcare website design

Looking to attract new patients and improve your facility's reputation with a new website or redesign? Be sure to have both a goal and a budget in mind, according to an article published this week in Medscape Business of Medicine.

The article outlines several potential pitfalls of healthcare website design.

Too often, when busy providers create websites they  become an afterthought, according to author Morgan Lewis, when a thoughtful approach is more likely to increase business.

"Think carefully about what you want the website to do for your practice," Lewis writes. "Do you want it to serve just as a brochure for your practice … or do you want to be able to communicate with patients online, allowing them to request appointments and prescription refills or ask simple, routine questions about their medical condition?"

According to Lewis, keeping the website both up to date and search engine optimization-friendly are both crucial. Outdated or unfinished pages give off an unprofessional vibe to potential patients; ignoring SEO best practices like using relevant keywords on each page of the site could mean that those potential patients don't even know about your facility to begin with.

"Using relevant keywords in each page … as well as your practice's name and location, will help patients or potential patients find you on the web," Lewis writes.

Even big organizations can learn from such mistakes. In a comparison of hospital websites conducted in February, Inc. magazine determined that while the Cleveland Clinic "understands its target audience and serves that audience's needs extremely well," the Mayo Clinic "just doesn't get it." The magazine noted that Mayo's site wasn't really designed to help patients or families of patients. "What you won't find is a phone number, directions, or anything else that might be of real use," the article said.

What's more, a study published earlier this year in the Journal of Healthcare Management determined that hospital websites have significant room for improvement.

To learn more:
- read the Medscape Business of Medicine piece