You depend on your hospital, doctor or medical tourism website to draw patients to your service. How well is it doing this?
People are looking for you. 8 out of 10 internet users seek health information online. Medical tourists, caregivers, doctors and nurses want to know more about your facility, your services, and your brand.
Will they find you? If and when they find you, will they stick with you?
People check out 8 websites before sticking with one.
People searching the internet for information look at an average of 8 websites to find what they want. If you don’t provide a helpful, informative and visually appealing experience for visitors to your site, your website may be one of the 7 sites that they pass over and don’t stop at.
It used to be people searched only 4 or 5 sites to find what they were looking for. The same information explosion they are taking advantage of has brought more competition for you. Your site is competing with many more hospitals and medical tourism services than ever.
Hospital and medical tourism websites are meant to be used by patients, yet they tend not to be patient friendly or patient focused.
Many medical tourism sites, or portals, are built on e-commerce platforms, offering laundry lists of destinations, hospitals and procedures. While this may be useful when buying shoes or computer gear, it tends not to be very helpful for many who need care management information. It also does not provide the back end content management and sales funnel technology that can make your website sticky.
Hospital websites don’t encourage patients to visit
A Journal of Healthcare Management reviewed 636 hospital websites for ease of use, overall quality of the content, searchability, and how well each site was designed.
Websites tend to offer plenty of hospital- or practice-centric About Us content. This is not the main reason patients visit a site. For a medical traveler searching several of these sites in one sitting, these sites fail to differentiate themselves. Few stand out and grab the patient’s attention. Few are sticky.
7 ways to make your website more accessible and more sticky
According to the Journal report, accessibility – a website’s ability to reach as many people as possible – is particularly important, and is often lacking. An accessible website is a welcoming website, and one that people want to stay on. Once people stay on your hospital or medical tourism website, content management techniques can be used to lead them into contacting you.
- An accessible website is one that reaches people with low computer literacy levels, people who have physical disabilities that limit their ability to use a mouse, or those who use nonstandard browsers. While Internet Explorer continues to be the most popular browser, Google Chrome, Firefox and Apple’s Safari also have significant numbers of users.
- An accessible website is one that is easy to read. The rule of thumb for most consumer sites is to write content at a U.S. Grade 11 (French Premiere, U.K. Sixth Form) reading level. Yet many hospital sites write at a graduate degree level. For websites with significant medical tourism related traffic, the readability level should probably be even lower than the general rule.
- For sites that offer translations, the simpler the original language, the clearer and better the translation. Content for translation should be expertly reviewed for localization issues, that is the content should be adapted to the cultural and social context of the reader.
- Many health care organization sites use jargon-heavy language that the average person has a hard time understanding. For example, some websites have data related to ventilator-associated pneumonia, but they used only the acronym, VAP. Or they used nosocomial infections instead of the more understandable term hospital-acquired infections.
- Use of medical terminology requires a certain amount of health care knowledge that the average person simply does not have. Technical knowledge is important, but this ought to be kept to inside pages of a website, where people can find it if they really need it.
- In terms of drawing international patients and keeping them on your site, international patient pages may be the most important web pages for your medical tourism business. In addition to information about a facility, service, or contact, this is where patients may access their personal records or their individual care management plan. You may want to encourage their comments or testimonials. A private members only section provides many good opportunities to bond the patient to the hospital or service.
- Keep the content on your website fresh. Stale, outdated content engages no one. Fresh content is not likely found on inside pages describing procedures. But pages featuring new developments relevant to patients, like upcoming health promotions, new doctors and services, extended appointment hours (to name just a few) can be updated and kept fresh.
8 out of 10 companies use facebook and other social media
Because one-third of U.S. adults use social media to discuss health issues, your website needs to be as sticky as possible. There is little point in establishing a youtube or facebook presence that promotes your website and sends traffic to it, if your site does not keep visitors on it once they get there.
One more reason to review your website accessibility issues: the number of cell phone owners who use their phones to read email, search the internet and look up health-related information is growing very quickly. Make sure your site is a mobile-friendly site.