Though slow adopters of the digital revolution, healthcare organizations are finally catching up, and healthcare delivery is changing significantly as a result. Hospital websites are no longer simply places to find directions or look up a phone number. Intelligent website design can address some of patients’ biggest concerns, find efficiencies for hospitals and even improve patient recall and compliance with doctors’ instructions.
A strong digital presence will continue to become a vital and growing requirement for the industry as a primary touchpoint. There are a number of best practices worth highlighting when considering website design.
Best of the Web
One of the most frustrating points in the patient journey is efficient scheduling. Calling and leaving multiple messages, going back and forth playing phone tag, is an antiquated and frustrating exercise, especially if the patient is experiencing anxiety about the concern. Cleveland Clinic is one of many hospitals booking their same-day-guaranteed appointments online. While you might not be able to apply that same guarantee (yet!), online booking reduces frustration and anxiety and also reduces the reliance on staff, freeing them up to do other work.
Aesthetics, organization and layout are all critical. You may have excellent information and services available, but if patients can’t easily, intuitively find it, it will not serve you, or them. Mount Sinai uses a pleasing layout with color contrast and a simple navigation bar across the top of the page, which has key services with calls to action right at eye level. As you scroll down content becomes more specific and you find calls to engage through social media. The images are emotional, warm and approachable, and it’s so simple your grandmother could navigate it.
Access to Medical Records
Although there are some drawbacks in regards to protecting privacy, patients are raving about online access through portals like John Hopkins’ MyChart. Test results, prescription renewals and recall of doctor’s instructions are some of the benefits of such a system. Some systems allow you to record your doctor’s appointment and play it back later. Again, this is also a way for organizations to find efficiencies. However, security is a big concern and must be addressed if considering this option.
The first sign of an unusual symptom sends patients straight to Google to self-diagnose. Though most physicians may grind their teeth at this new reality, it can also be an opportunity for hospitals and clinics to provide value-added services. Reliable, detailed information patients can trust can be provided through health centers on your website, leveraging your reputation as an established expert over the many anonymous health websites of uncertain validity. Cleveland Clinic also allows online video appointments using their Express Care Online app, which have the benefit of not only being fast and easy, but are also more affordable than an in-person visit. Such a service may help hospitals find efficiencies by reducing unnecessary visits to the ER – a win-win from the patient’s perspective!
Some key DONT’s
Not Mobile Friendly
Most searches are now being done on mobile devices, not computers. If your site is not optimized for the various platforms it will frustrate users. If you are deploying a personal healthcare access system like MyChart, an app should be created for easy mobile access.
Not Brand Cohesive
A stunning website that doesn’t match your mission and value statements will not serve you. We feel strongly that all consumer touchpoints must communicate the same message, clearly and succinctly. Without a strong, cohesive brand program, you may end up with a website that doesn’t compliment your organization values. Northwestern Medicine does an excellent job of communicating their values right up front, claiming “what makes us better, makes you better.” Too many hospital websites look and feel generic, and since the website is likely to be the first experience patients have of your hospital, this is a wasted opportunity to say the least.
Not designed for 2017
Without a robust, dynamic, responsive website your hospital or clinic will be left behind. The internet is the first place patients will turn when they have a healthcare question, and you will have only seconds before your website has left an impression. If you haven’t updated significantly in the past 10 years, you are likely lagging behind your competition. Everything from the way a site functions to simple features, such as outdated design elements like playing music or audio when you open the home page, can reduce your brand’s value in that key first impression.
An organization’s website acts as a 24/7 primary brand touchpoint that can reach potential patients instantly, or turn them off just as fast. When considering a website redesign, ensure you are taking an immersive approach that will provide your patients with the best access to information and services, and give your hospital a presence that reflects your unique values.
Does your healthcare organization have a website that you can be proud of? Is your current design prioritizing user experience? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to subscribe to receive the latest Shikatani Lacroix insights in your inbox.