Using Your Practice’s Website to Attract New Patients

Seven do’s and don’ts for all physician websites

In this edition of “The Wired Practice,” Ron Harman King explains how a website can attract new patients to your medical practice.

Watch the video on MedPage Today

Video transcript

In our last video, we looked at five must-haves for websites for all physicians. Today, we’re going to explore a few do’s and don’ts, specifically, for those physicians wanting to build their practices more rapidly with more patients. But first, to set the stage, let’s be clear on one very important fact about the internet. Healthcare consumers look online for healthcare information first and healthcare providers second.

Our research has shown this consistently time after time. By examining data provided by the Google search engine, we know that for every internet user searching for a doctor, there are as many as 10 times the number of internet searchers looking for information about what a doctor in that specialty diagnoses and treats – 10 times as many.

This database finding reveals a critical key to drawing more patients. If you want to attract the attention of a prospective patient, talk first about his or her needs rather than yourself, which you should talk about only secondly. In many years of experience, we have learned that physicians grow practices much faster when they provide free, accurate and patient-centric information online about what they treat.

Bottom line, the quickest way to grow a practice quickly is being a good teacher on the internet. Your cost and time and money will be rewarded many times over with growth and new patients. I guarantee it. With that in mind, let’s look at four do’s for doctor websites.

Four website do’s that attract new patients

  1. An online health library when it points to both search engines and people. Generally, you should strive to publish original patient trending information on the top 10 to 20 conditions that you or your group treats. You should also consult a search engine optimization specialist, an SEO specialist, to learn what search terms people most commonly use on Google. This will help you choose good topics and will also guide you with the use of layman language that everyone can understand.
  2. Making regular updates to websites gives current and future patients reasons to return to the website more often. Blogs are great for this. Think of a blog, which by the way is an abbreviation for weblog, as the same kind of general guidance you give patients in your exam rooms about good health habits, from nutrition to exercise to avoiding alcohol and tobacco. If you even have just one blog from 400 to 600 words long once every month or two, you’ll likely to get many more visits to your website than your competitors. Keep in mind that well-written blogs can actually draw more visits than your website’s homepage.
  3. Social media links to and from your website give you an opportunity to get much more mileage from your online health library and your blogs. At minimum, I recommend setting up a special page for your practice on Facebook, the most popular social media website with more than 1.6 billion users. Think of Facebook as another big search engine. People use it all the time search for popular healthcare topics and providers. You can then post excerpts of blogs and library articles on Facebook every week or two with links back to your website.
  4. Provide ways for patients to connect with and contact your practice. At minimum, you should have a contact us form on your website. It’s better though to also provide a way for prospective patients to ask for appointments online, even if you don’t have online scheduling capabilities. Many practices also have forms for submitting general questions. And some even have online patient forums on their websites for patients to exchange comments and experiences.

Avoid these three medical practice website don’ts

Now, I should add a very important note: Don’t dwell on your providers’ CVs and training and board certifications on your website. Patients don’t really care or understand much about such details. They assume all doctors have been rigorously educated and trained and/or qualified.

Another don’t to avoid is the temptation to show photographs or videos of surgery. Most patients are squeamish about such details and are instead, focused on their outcomes, not about the potentially painful and scary process to get there.

Lastly, one more don’t. Don’t skimp on website resources. Don’t try to do this all by yourself and don’t delegate to one of your staff to do it in his or her spare time.

The world wide web has grown into a very sophisticated medium. Today, the typical doctor is part of a multi-million-dollar business: You can’t afford for the business to look amateurish. A doctor’s website is more often than not that first impression for prospective patients.

In our experience, as many as 10 times as many visitors come to the best doctors’ websites every month as actually come to their clinics. Hire professional digital marketers, designers and writers, and your business will reap rewards for years to come.