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Medical Practice Web Sites: What's Essential?

 

More and more medical practices have web sites.  What to include on those web sites that brings real value to new and existing patients should be carefully thought through.

There are some things that are simply essential:

  1. Directions - the time taken by office personnel on giving directions can be completely eliminated by providing directions to your practice.  Some that I have seen give the various direct routes (like coming from the west? etc.)  Others offer interactive directions (your address to practice with a map for patients to follow)
  2. Provider picture and facts about the provider(s) -  You may also want to include staff and staff responsibilities as well.  New patients will be particularly helped by this feature.
  3. Email capabilities - Some of the best web sites I have seen have included email capabilities.  This is especially true for specialties that are following patients over time.  Questions about medications, appointment requests, status of how the patient is feeling can all be addressed via email.  Of course that also means that someone must check email throughout the day and respond to patients.  If patients do not get quick response, they may opt to call, and of course reduction of phone calls should be the goal of email.
  4. Collection policies - What insurances the provider is contracted with, what fees are due at time of service, and clear policy about balances and options should be included.  This will reduce "window" time with patients. 
  5. Education page - Is it flu season? Do you have tips for patients with chronic conditions? Do you have suggestions on weight control? Information about medications typically used?  All of these suggestions will be welcomed by patients.  These pages should also be updated periodically with new and seasonal information that will be helpful to patients.
  6. News - Highlights of practice honors, employee of the month, what's going on in healthcare, what recent changes in healthcare apply to practice can be helpful to patients. 
  7. Visit requirements - Do you require patients to bring medications to visit?  Do you require additional information?  The more you can communicate with patients, the better prepared for visit they will be. 

Some practices also include forms that new patients can download and print prior to visit and bring with them.  This will save an incredible amount of time when patient presents. 

Patients are getting more and more sophisticated and you will need to address the most common things you hear in the office.

Providing patients with options and answers will clearly attract new patients and retain existing ones.

 

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