There are a few basic things all websites need to be successful such as great search engine optimization (SEO), responsive design, and an easy to use interface. However, medical websites need to take their website design one step further and also ensure their site is HIPAA compliant and able to provide patient education. In a niche market with unique challenges and demands, it makes sense to work with a designer that specializes in the field of medical website design such as iHealthSpot. This helps guarantee the design is meeting patient needs as well as those of the medical office and the requirements set forth by federal and state agencies.
Search Engine Optimization
A medical practice or doctor’s office may not be aware of the power and value of narrowly targeted SEO. By using carefully targeted keywords it is possible for a website to tell search engines such as Google exactly what the content on their site is about and where the business is located. When patients search for these and related terms, the search engine directs them to the websites that are most closely related to the query.
It is incredibly important to have targeted the correct terms and to have used them throughout the website in a way that search engine algorithms find acceptable and useful. Intuitively, it may seem as though simply using words such as doctor, medical practice, and the location would be sufficient. In smaller communities, this may be adequate but in larger urban areas the number of doctors can mean that generic keywords such as these would not help the website rank on the first page of results.
Users rarely scroll to the second page of results so it is easy to see why it is important to be among the first they see. Another complication for those unfamiliar with the best SEO practices for medical websites is that what medical practitioners think patients are searching for are rarely the terms truly being used. For example, a pediatrician might want to use ‘Houston pediatrician’ to help parents find their practice but parents may be more likely to search for specific symptoms or conditions rather than looking for a doctor. This is one of the reasons working with an expert in the field of medical website design is imperative for optimal results.
Responsive design is another component of a great SEO campaign. Users who are accessing a search engine from a mobile site are treated differently than those using a computer. The search engine recognizes the type of device and will rank results higher that are optimized for mobile viewing. They are also more likely to use location-specific data when providing results to mobile users.
Patient engagement is far more important in overall user satisfaction and efficacy of treatment than many people realize. This entails getting patients more involved with their own healthcare rather than allowing them to simply be recipients of that care. One of the most powerful ways to do this is to create a website that is filled with useful content and allows the patient to become more empowered and knowledgeable about their health condition.
Part of this includes offering reliable medical information about the various conditions the physician addresses in the practice. This gives the patient a way to learn more about their condition without resorting to websites that are more interested in advertising than in providing high-quality content.
Another way to increase patient engagement is by having a strong presence on social media. This can be incorporated into the website design in several ways. Links to social media profiles can be provided and articles or blog posts can be designed to easily be shared on the patient’s preferred platform.
The rules of website design always lean in favor of customer experience. This isn’t always easy for medical websites to manage given the complexities of HIPAA regulations. Increasing patient and practitioner usability in a HIPAA compliant website ultimately comes down to addressing key user needs, developing education, and consistently improving engagement through testing.
Today, most patients want conveniences such as online appointment scheduling and bill payment. These features help the patient communicate 24/7 with their doctors and help practices function more efficiently. While these conveniences are important, information must be kept secure. That’s the balance that HIPAA compliant, medical website developers must maintain to help medical practices operate lawfully, and successfully.
The partnership between a medical practice and a medical website design firm requires a lot of trust and transparency. There are unique regulatory practices that must be in-place to ensure HIPAA compliance whenever patient communication takes place via the website. The average website designer may not know what these regulations are or how to adhere properly to them.
Medical website design is trickier than creating the average website. While it is important to follow the best practices used in the field, it is also necessary to incorporate industry-specific regulations. Doing this properly will take more time and effort but in the end, it will become an invaluable tool for your patients.