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Anatomy of a Great Medical Website Design:
Effective Patient Engagement
An effective Medical Home Page is broken into multiple components. On the overall, the Home Page needs to immediately engage the visitor and quickly convey a level of professionalism to the patient with appropriate decorum relative to the medical specialty. The site must be visually interesting and the visitor must be able to quickly determine the website’s general navigation.
This has to happen within a span of only three (3) seconds. Excluding direct visitors to your website that might be seeking access to your patient portal or your scheduling system, three seconds is the initial attention interval that visitors afford to a Home Page after finding the site on Google, Yahoo! or Bing. If they're not immediately impressed, or if can’t figure out the website, expect the visitor move on to the next search result.
Engaging Visitors with the Home Page
For practice websites, motion and animation come into play here. Movement within the range of eyesight – especially on the peripheral edge – instinctively focuses a visitor's attention on the motion, and they typically will wait to see not only what has happened, but what is likely to occur next. The three second wait period is short, but in that brief interval a visitor is able to quickly process two other items that make for an effective Home Page.
Visuals – Professionalism & Decorum
Still working within this three second gap, the visitor also considers if the resulting website's appearance is within, or exceeds, their internal expectations. Visuals on the Home Page convey a sense to visitors of whether a practice is large or small, if it’s efficient and businesslike, or friendly and comfortable. Each practice needs to define its likely audience and select a style for their website accordingly.
Examples: The Home Page of a pediatric website might want to demonstrate that the doctors and staff understand children and will make them comfortable as patients. Primary colors, such as red, blue, yellow and green, together with stock photos of happy children at play, work well in this example.
A website for an oncologist is vastly different. Because cancer is often a life-threatening disease, the Home Page of an oncological practice should communicate to the visitor that they have landed on the site of a serious medical practice that means business in treating this disease. Oncology websites should simultaneously demonstrate empathy too, so color combinations of light greys, and muted pink conveys compassion. Light blue is effective in presenting a business-like appearance.
Websites directed towards women – OBGYN and cosmetic surgery practices – should consider the use of feminine colors such as pinks mixed with teal. Obstetricians might employ the use of expectant mothers and newborn babies within their animated banner images.
When selecting stock images, photographs of the typical patient you are expecting to see are often the most effective. Those, in combination with photos that show a healthcare provider attending or consulting with the typical patient, are great selections. These can be used throughout the website since they are effective in demonstrating compassion, concern and direct interaction with patients.
Dr. Leonardo contains hundreds of high-resolution banner images that can be used to decorate the animated section of your Home Page. You can even upload high-res photos of your own – images of the practice waiting room, exam and operating rooms, doctors, staff, etc. Dr. Leonardo features more than 1,000 different design themes – typically 18-24 different designs per specialty. Varying the Home Page banner images lets you customize your Dr. Leonardo website for a truly unique appearance.
General Navigation - Quick & To the Point
Another important function of the Home Page is to present the visitor with an instantly understandable menu that includes discernable shortcuts to specific areas of the website. Since a practice website is ultimately comprised of many different pages – doctor and staff biographies, patient education content, patient portal, medical history forms, etc. – it’s important that the visitor immediately understand how to navigate the website. A great medical website will establish a navigation trail with multiple ways for the visitor to explore the website. Icons and other graphics that lead directly to frequently accessed pages and also very helpful.
Dr. Leonardo websites feature intuitive menus with shortcuts to the online appointment scheduling system, patient portal, social media links and more. Each of these menus and features are completely editable for a custom presentation directed for your patients.
Once a visitor has landed on your Home Page, the next step is to lead them through the supporting pages within the website. The goal is to get the patient to spend their time engaged within a good portion of the website, educating themselves on the healthcare provider biographies, and reading up on the conditions, treatments and procedures that interest or affect them. For patients who are visiting for the first time and are 'vetting' the practice, this level of engagement is at the direct expense of other, similar providers that the patient is potentially considering as well.
Extensive levels of deep clinical content achieve two important purposes:
Content is the primary source of information for search engines.
While there are many factors in obtaining top-of-page search results in Google and other search directories – relevant links to and from your website, responsive site design, speed to load, etc.—content is the greatest component to organic search placement. The reason is simple. The primary objective of every search engine is to answer the questions that are posed as search queries. When a search engine answers questions successfully, their visitor comes back to use the search engine again and again. This is how Google maintains its incredible level of – by providing the most relevant answers to their visitor’s questions.
Search engines robotically review most every page on the Internet. When your site features in-depth written material, clinical terminology and detailed information on your practice and its providers, your website is ultimately ranked as an authoritative source. This results in high placement for queries that include diseases and health conditions you treat, treatment regimens and the surgical procedures you offer. Over time, this authority translates to more visitors to your website.
Patients want to see information about their personal conditions on your website.
The chances are good that many visitors to your website are there to vet you as a prospective patient. And existing patients seek reassurance they are going to the right practice with the right providers. When your website contains information about their personal health condition, it helps to make the patient feel comfortable with their selection as you and your practice as their healthcare provider.
Further, patients will use the content on your website to educate themselves on the matters that ail them. Properly educated patients have a better understanding of their condition and their treatment options.
Dr. Leonardo features detailed content on more than 8,800 healthcare conditions, treatments and procedures. Discussions average 400 – 700 words each, and include clinical illustrations and professional medical photography. Rich-text, print-ready functionality lets you distribute point-of-care information at your office and on your patient's desktop and mobile devices.
Online Appointment Scheduling
It is estimated that by 2019, 64% of the U.S. population will schedule their medical appointments online, with almost one billion appointments booked this way each year . Expect two-thirds of your own patients to book their appointments on their own.
Most appointments will be made through the use of a phone, which can often be clumsy to use to enter data. Keep it simple and get the basics needed to schedule the patient on your calendar: Name, telephone, email address, and appointment time. Detailed medical history and insurance questions can saved be for appointment confirmation notices by sending the patient a link to the appropriate place on your website to log in to your Patient Portal.
Dr. Leonardo's simple appointment interface collects:
- Date, time and office location of the appointment
- The patient's first and last name
- Primary and mobile telephone number
- Email Address
- Preferred contact method (phone or email)
- New or existing patient
- Reason for visit
Your office is automatically notified of the appointment basics by email, with any Personal Health Information (PHI) being automatically encrypted using SecureForms™ on our HIPAA-compliant servers.
Patient Portal Access
Since patients often struggle to remember how to access the Patient Portal, the best place to find your Patient Portal is on your website. As a core component of Meaningful Use Standards, Patient Portals extend the functions that patients typically call about each day onto your website. This frees up time for your office staff and relieves congestion at the front desk. Additionally, referring healthcare providers can be given access so they can review your office’s EHR notes on joint patients.
Dr. Leonardo allows you to select from our list of more than 100 EHR systems to feature your Patient Portal with a short-cut from every page of your website.
Patient forms remain a necessity to every medical office. Place those patient forms on your website as PDF files that patients can download and complete before their appointment. Today’s forms are often available as interactive PDF files to be completed online and imported directly into your EHR system. If your Patient Portal offers the forms as part of registration, patients can be directed to the portal to register in your EHR before they arrive at your office.
Dr. Leonardo lets you upload patient forms of various format including Adobe PDF, Word files and other documents.
It is important to provide a page listing the insurance plans that your practice accept. Equally important is to keep this list up-to-date as well. Patients frequently attempt to match providers with their insurance plans when search the web. Like all content on your website, this list becomes associated with the practice name and the providers.
Responsive Mobile Optimization
Mobile devices now account for 60% of all search . As a result, search engines now give greater preference to websites that are mobile-optimized, and in particular to responsive websites. The user experience with a responsive website is far better when using a smartphone, and the speed to load is a factor as well.
Dr. Leonardo website designs are responsive and mobile-optimized, so they automatically adjust to the size of the device – desktop, tablet or smartphone.
Websites which use a Content Management System (CMS) give the practice the ability to edit and change the content on their website themselves. This can also include the ability to access and modify the On-Page SEO (Search Engine Optimization) features. While a practice administrator might not care to learn the ins and outs of this feature, an outside Digital Marketing Agency most certainly will.
It’s not uncommon to want to switch from one digital agency to another. Whenever this happens, many agencies require that an entirely new website be created with them. With Dr. Leonardo, you can provide access to any third-party agency for on-page SEO work, and continue to keep your existing website.
Important Notices Found in the Website's Footer
HIPAA regulations require that the Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP) be posted on a medical practice’s website. You must have webpage for this, or at least a link to a PDF file of the notice that patients can download.
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