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Best practices for patient-centric hospital sites

- By Keith Ellis - Apr 16, 2024 Accessibility Content Experience Marketing Performance

If you’re in the healthcare industry, it’s hard to miss the fact that “improving the patient experience” is everywhere, with thought leadership pieces cropping up on everything from the importance of kindness to how AI can help create customized care plans.

Since healthcare websites are often the front door to modern healthcare services, they’re integral to patient experience, so it is critical that they are done right. Leading healthcare organizations understand that a good digital experience for patients starts before the patient lands on their site: Keywords and ads that raise brand awareness are where the process starts.

Then, once users are on the site, content needs to be relevant and optimized for their needs to ensure a good experience for the patient and build immediate trust. For example, if a visitor is interested in a new form of treatment, providing a seamless experience from educational material to scheduling an appointment helps increase the likelihood that a visitor will become a patient. Understanding user behavior, content and marketing performance, and site design issues is paramount to increasing conversion rates — all these figure into the overall digital patient experience.

With millions of patients in need of healthcare services and no shortage of providers vying to serve those individuals, it’s more important than ever for healthcare organizations to think about the digital experience they provide with as much attention as they do with their brick-and-mortar offices.

That takes discipline and adherence to a few key best practices.

Best practice #1: Put yourself in the patient’s shoes

One aspect that is unique to the healthcare industry? It’s never hard to put yourself in the patient’s shoes because you’ve been a patient yourself. You know what it’s like to search for information on symptoms (Do I have a torn meniscus or osteoarthritis?), try and find a doctor who seems like a fit (Practices sports medicine and is taking new patients), book an appointment (Great! I can fit that in after I drop the kids off at school and before my first meeting), see lab and test results (Confirmation: Torn meniscus!), get follow up care (Physical therapy twice a week), and communicate with your doctor (Knee is getting better!).

Take that a step further and imagine navigating your site from the POV of someone with a disability, like colorblindness. Is the color contrast between the font and the background sufficient for you to see the difference? Can you see hyperlinks? Seemingly minor details like that are all key elements of accessibility; if you skip over these details on any one page, you’re not providing an experience that’s consistent for all individuals.

It’s easy to think that those are just “nice to have” details, but they’re critical from a compliance and revenue perspective: If a patient encounters obstacles that detract from their experience or feels like they can’t trust your site, it’s not just an inconvenience to them — it means you may lose them entirely and their revenue potential.

Best practice #2: Consolidate your content and marketing performance tools

With the constant pressure to improve financial margins and to “do more with less,” it’s imperative that organizations embrace technology that consolidates and automates the insights that impact patient experience and enhance current conversion rates.

That’s not a simple task in today’s constantly expanding portfolio of technology and trends — it feels like every day, more and more martech tools crowd the market, each one with different claims, capabilities, and available integrations.

The challenge with having so many disparate tools is that you spend inordinate amounts of time trying to understand the data or pulling together reports when your real priority should be executing strategies that align with key organizational goals.

Your ideal option is to adopt a robust, centralized solution that automates marketing and content performance insights that yield actionable recommendations. When acted upon, the recommendations lead to a positive impact on achieving your digital experience and conversion goals.

A single, unified solution can help you achieve your digital patient experience by:

  • Extending the reach of the website through improved organic search results
  • Optimizing paid ad spend to drive down cost and improve conversion rates
  • Identifying conversion blockers and implementing ideal conversion paths
  • Automating digital governance insights to ensure every user has the same experience and that the site conforms to brand and quality standards
  • Consolidating technology into platforms that provide a “single source of truth” model that enables continuous improvement and investment efficiencies

Best practice #3: Ask questions and know what’s possible

When you’re evaluating your options for a tool that makes all of this easier, the possibilities quickly become overwhelming. One tool promises this, another integrates with that, one is more expensive, another is less expensive.

My advice? Ask each vendor what results their other healthcare customers have seen when they’ve adopted their solution. Don’t be afraid to get into the weeds. Make sure they share hard numbers with you as well as case studies. (Psst . . . check out ours with Springfield Clinic, which saw a 30 percent increase in daily search volume after working with us and won a Best Site Design award from eHealthcare Leadership Awards.)

Other healthcare organizations we’ve partnered with have also seen amazing results, including:

  • 2x increase in online appointment requests
  • 11 percent increase in conversion rates
  • 68 percent reduction in paid search cost per lead
  • 175 percent increase in paid search conversions
  • 3x increase in top-ranking positions

The great news is that when you embrace these three best practices, the benefits can spread across your entire organization. If you prioritize your digital patient experience like the physical experience, your brand reputation, patient trust, and revenue will be positively impacted.