“TOP-RANKED SURGRY CENTER”
OK, most errors aren’t that blatant. But, still, words matter. Correctly spelled ones. A prospective patient could see the above and come away thinking, “Hmmm, if they spelled surgery wrong, are they also going to do my arthroscopy wrong?”
Spelling errors, though, are website 101 lessons. A hospital, urgent care center or other healthcare provider need to go beyond grammar school fixes and really get it right.
Your hospital’s website is your welcome mat, the place where prospective patients will form their initial thoughts about your facility. The first impression people develop about your center or services come in the first few seconds: A study by the Missouri University of Science and Technology pegs the time to form a first impression at two-tenths of a second.
And hospitals face unique challenges in cementing that first impression in that initial two-tenths of a second. A restaurant doesn’t need to do much more than post their menu and photos of appealing food to get people in the door. A hospital has to do much more for a robust patient acquisition program. For starters:
Get the Look
This is perhaps the toughest to get right because it is so subjective. But your website has to look, at once, authoritative and clinical, and warm and inviting. That is the unique tightrope healthcare providers walk online: Only you can know where you want to position your hospital.
If your facility tilts more towards the “lifestyle” — the birthing center and wellness and cardiac care, for instance — you want to show photos of people looking and living well, with radiant colors and smiling faces. If you are a teaching hospital or a healthcare system known for your clinical muscle and trauma center, then scaling back on the warm fuzzies and putting in bold, crisp authoritative colors and a no-frills font is the way to go. And this is just a quick primer on the aesthetics (check out some great examples here). Now we get to the key stuff: the content.
Keep It Local
First, a note about content. You won’t have a good first impression to make if no one is showing up. So, when possible, for the most effective patient acquisition, your content has to be SEO (Search Engine Optimization) rich and relevant to your market.
If your facility is located in King County, Washington, you really don’t need people in Bangor, Maine to be able to find you. So in addition to focusing on packing your site with good, relevant health info, you want to pack it with SEO-friendly markers: “Best cardiac care in King County.” Not only will that get more people, it’ll make an impactful first impression because it’ll cement the hospital as a local partner rather than distant city.
Unless you are truly a national hospital like The Mayo Clinic and a handful of others, focus on the market you serve. A platform like PatientBond can help you take this traffic and segment it so that you can target these new visitors with relevant information.
PatientBond’s psychographic segmentation model identifies groups of people according to their motivations, priorities and communication preferences. PatientBond can analyze a patient population within a hospital or across a competitive geography to help target and maximize engagement.
Having plenty of self-diagnosis tools on your site makes a super first impression. It shows a patient that you’re “on their side.” Fifteen years ago, many health care providers were uncomfortable with the number of patients who were coming in saying: “Well, I Googled my possible causes of a sore throat, and this is what I have found. Why haven’t we explored this?” It felt as if an army of self-diagnosers were undermining the traditional doctor-patient relationship.
But as the internet has evolved, healthcare systems have embraced the self-diagnosis and instead of fighting it, have worked with it. Provide a “reference shelf” where would-be patients can scour medical journals, studies and the like. Put quizzes on your site. Engage your patients. Your patients will feel that they are more than a nameless, faceless cog in the healthcare system, but a partner.
Remember that studies have shown that most people start their quest for good health online. You need to be a partner, not an impediment. Also important to remember is that different psychographic segments have different information needs.
The Self Achiever and Balance Seeker segments are hungry for information and will greatly appreciate the self diagnosis resources listed above. The other three segments — Priority Jugglers, Direction Takers and Willful Endurers — are not as likely to search through content, data and resources. Instead, they want bite-size chunks of information with which they can immediately act.
Hospital food used to be lumped in somewhere with prison food and school food. Hairnet-clad workers slinging mystery meat was a perceived (rightly or wrongly) mainstay of the hospital experience. Now, many hospitals employ trained chefs and skilled dietitians to tailor their menus.
Why put recipes on a hospital website? Recipes are great drivers of traffic for certain patient segments, and the first impression they get of your hospital won’t be the inherently gloomy cancer center, but an inviting, nutritious choice of foods.
While some patients are searching for “cyst on kidney,” others will be searching for “Healthy summer potato salad.” Having both on your hospital’s site is important, but the person searching for information about a cyst on their kidney is someone at least predisposed to visit your hospital because they are on their searching for medical information.
Someone may come onto your site for a salad recipe, but while there, the seed is planted for future engagement, then you truly have gotten a new patient. Recipes are also a great way to make your site a holistic self-serve lifestyle center where people can visit when they are well as well as when they are sick. And visiting while someone is well makes your hospital a part of their lives through good and bad.
Use Live Chat
This is becoming an increasingly popular tool among hospitals large and small. Some people just want to be left alone and do their research, but others do want a bit more hand-holding, and having an online chat feature is a low-cost, high-yield option. If the interaction is pleasant, the seeds are sown for a great relationship.
You can employ chat bots through services like Zendesk at a low cost to answer basic questions during off-hours, but having an employee who is there to empathetically hand-hold the prospective patient through the sometimes intimidating labyrinth of the healthcare system via a live chat mechanism is especially helpful. Live chats allow prospective patients to have questions answered instantly.
Bottom line: A good first impression brings in more patients, and that bolsters the bottom line. And if done right, it can create a more well, holistically healthy community. That’s a win for everyone.
Advice For Urgent Center Centers
Chances are, if someone is checking out an urgent care site, they need care. Now. So the pace of your site needs to be faster, no-frills, and you should consider posting prices. Yes, the competition can poach or undercut your pricing, but quick and transparent are especially important on urgent care sites.
Information, transparency and speed cement a great first impression for an urgent care center. Make sure your address is clearly visible and put a map on the first page of the site showing exactly where your center is. Someone who is dealing with a raging headache doesn’t want to have spend time trying to find you. Consider posting peak wait times or using more updated software to show real-time how much of a wait there is.
When considering the first impression value of your urgent care center’s site, put yourself in the shoes of the typical urgent care patient in your market and tailor your site accordingly. If you are located in an area of extensive offices, emphasize your lunch-time hours or “after work quick care” program. Your patients are looking for quick and convenient, and your site needs to reflect that.
By the way, one psychographic segment — Willful Endurers — are seven times more likely to visit an urgent care center than all other segments. Design your website to appeal to the segment-specific needs, priorities and wording preferences of this single segment and an urgent care center should see a bump in traffic. PatientBond has an extensive set of Marketing Acquisition and Patient Loyalty engagement solutions for urgent care centers.
So the takeaway for hospitals, clinics and urgent care centers: good welcome mats are invaluable. A sloppy “front door” — meaning more and more, your virtual front door — can make all the difference between a patient coming in or turning away and heading for your competitor.