One of the most popular uses of the internet is to search for health information – and it’s more than just patients searching WebMD to self-diagnose their latest ailment. Patients who are looking for a provider heavily use online resources to help with their decision-making process. By applying best practices for hospital website content, your online presence can provide the information patients need during a critical time in their decision-making process.
In fact, four out of every five patients who book appointments use hospital websites as part of their research, according to a Google Digital Journey to Wellness study. And, they are comparison shopping, with almost two out of every three patients visiting two or more hospital websites before making an appointment.
At Standing Partnership, we chart hospital website content performance based on eight key attributes (in addition to insights we gain from reviewing analytics). Here are three areas where we often find hospital websites fail at engaging patients:
- The use of action-oriented phrases and calls to action. There is a lot of information to process as a patient and many don’t know where to start. So, create the paths for them. Use phrases like: Find a Doctor, Make an Appointment, Learn About Your Health, View Patient Stories, Find a Clinical Trial, etc.
- Providing patient-centered content. We often see hospitals using their websites to promote what they want patients to know, instead of putting themselves in the shoes of the patients and providing what the patients want to know. Does a patient who’s been diagnosed with a serious illness really want to read a letter from the hospital president or page through a long annual report? Probably not. So, don’t make them front and center on your website. Also, a best practice is to use accessible language. Navigation titles, such as Hyperbaric Medicine or Proton Therapy mean nothing to patients.
- Customization of the visitor experience. If a patient has been diagnosed with a serious illness, such as heart disease or cancer, he or she will be overwhelmed by the level of research to determine next steps. Make it easy for patients by providing information targeted by disease state. Highlight patient success stories, treatment options, support groups, specialists and educational information specific to that illness. Pulling all those resources together in one convenient location makes it easier for patients and positions your organization as having a dedicated focus and depth of expertise in that disease state.
What do you think are some best practices for hospital website content?
Written by Beth Minnigerode, former Standing Partnership employee