- They don’t call because you don’t have a web page and can’t find you (i.e. you don’t exist).
- They do call because your web page is informative.
- They call the referring doctor asking for a different referral because they see your old web page. Your web page is so old that your referring docs can’t send patients to your office!
Over 80% of the American population looks for health-related information on the Internet, and it is expected that you have a web page. A web page should reveal how you practice and “who” you are. Your potential new patients are looking for the personality of the practice to be evident.
An old website says a lot about you and your practice. It says you can’t be bothered with this new medium (um, by the way, it’s not really that new anymore) and have no idea nor interest in joining this new age of “conversation.” You simply are not interested in meeting the needs of your patients.
In return, your “new” patients won’t want to have anything to do with you, either. They’ll click to your competitor’s website who has taken the initiative to develop a web presence. (Remember the disdain you had for a house that was indeed home for “trick or treating” but didn’t feel like being bothered? Same thing. Patients won’t bother with you if you don’t have a page or you have a stale one.)
This Scenario is Real!
It is happening to me.
I have a unique employment arrangement with two different groups. As a retina specialist, I am a non-partnered employee of each practice. I have absolutely no administrative duties nor equity in either situation. Thus, I have my own websites separate from these practice sites.
These two practices sites are so old that our loyal referring physicians are now complaining to us that while they are still referring patients to us, the patients are turned off by the condition of the websites! Patients want other recommendations. The web site says “old and stale,” ergo, so must be the doctors!
What’s wrong? Pictures are old, the information contained is either wrong, incomplete or obsolete. The content is hastily and sloppily written with spelling errors and over usage of clinical terms. These sites scream out, “We Don’t Care!”
One practice simply views a web site as a cheap way for patients to download “new patient” forms. It saves them postage. Unfortunately, we tell every new patient that does call to visit the site and “download the forms.” We wonder why so many patients make an appointment, then never “show”.
The other practice has a “Copyright 1999-2004” at the bottom, yet brags about performing surgery with the latest and greatest hi-tech equipment. (Do your Google homework and check this yourself!).
What Can You Do?
If your webpage is old and smothering new patient referrals, you have three options:
- Redesign the site (if you are cheap)
- Optimize your website (if you are smart)
- Take down your site (if you just want to stop the bleeding)
If you follow me on my medical marketing website, you know I’d never recommend a simple redesign. Redesign ignores the Medical SEO component.
If you want your web page to actively attract new patients, you must optimize your medical SEO of the website. This is the only way through which you can achieve, and maintain, high rankings on the SERP (search engine results page). Highly ranked pages attract new patients.
If you can’t fathom any of this, call your hosting company and ask them to take down your site. Ask them to “park” your site.
To your success!
Randall V. Wong, M.D. is a physician and guest columnist for BEI's Healthcare IT Update. He has been very successful creating his own web presence and marketing strategy. He co-founded Medical Marketing Enterprises, LLC to teach medical practices how to improve their website performance by the techniques of medical SEO and social media.
10 "Must-do's" for Healthcare Practice Websites
This list hits the basics - the elements that you "must-do" to avoid having a website that is actually a detriment to your practice. Many more steps, including search engine optimization, will give you even better results!
||Contact info – a specific person’s name (preferred), phone and emai
||Locations of your offices
||Directions to your offices
||Physician Profiles (photo, either professional taken or good quality showing the physician doing something they like to do - sport, hobby, etc.) There should also be a written narrative about the physician that talks about who they are rather than just what they have achieved. Think of this as an opportunity for a prospective patient to get to know the physician.
||Current copyright date and legal disclaimers
||Clear message about your specialty
||Insurance plans accepted
||Forms that patients need
||No spelling errors
||News (include only if you can keep it updated)
Scanning: Selecting the correct resolution
Selecting the correct resolution is important when scanning patient records. This is always true, but even more so when documents will be attached to and used by an EHR. There will be lots of documents that will require a significant amount of storage space and it is critically important that information be legible.
First, consider the classic tradeoffs in computer-based graphics:
- Higher resolution yields more detail and therefore greater legibility
- Higher resolution also results in larger files and so require more storage space
So, the key is to select a high enough resolution so that documents are clearly legible, but no more. Any higher resolution after this point is a waste of storage space! As a note, color and grayscale also result in larger files than black and white files (not a resolution issue, just consider that color files store more information than black and white files.)
Most files that are scanned to an EHR are text files and a resolution of 200 dpi will result in more than adequate quality while keeping file size fairly small. Try it, look at the result on a screen and make sure that this setting works in your environment.