In the past, the choice of who to use as a GP was not much of a choice for most people. The decision was made on location, recommendation from family and friends, or simply that they had been visiting the same doctor’s practise since childhood.
These days, much like with most other businesses, the decision on which medical center to register with starts with a web search.
Unfortunately, many doctors’ websites are unattractive, difficult to navigate, and don’t provide much information. It’s understandable that when budgets are tight a website is not at the top of the list to spend money on. But there are some reasons that a good web presence should be a priority.
Making a good first impression and empowering choice
Where the first impression a medical center made on a patient was once the reception are and waiting room, it is now often the practise website. An elegant waiting room once served to indicate the class of a doctor’s surgery, now that role is taken by an elegant homepage.
People have a much greater choice in their health providers now. And many will make the decision based on how attractive the website is, and how much information it provides.
Doctors in particular should embrace the opportunity to provide more information to prospective patients. Profiles listing specialisations, areas of interest, or particular communities served are a great way of attracting patients who want someone knowledgeable about their condition, or who are used to working with people from their culture or community.
Enabling patient self-management
As Patient Management Systems become more sophisticated, a website will not just function as an advertisement for a particular medical centre. It will also serve as the portal where patients can log in to access their medical records, make appointments and order prescriptions. Building a website which can be easily upgraded to host this patient portal now will save more expensive web development work in the future.
Increasing practise visibility
A web presence goes beyond just having a static website however. Medical centers should leverage social media to become more visible and engage with patients and potential patients outside of the practise setting. Linking the site to other sites which provide medical information, or to research done by practice doctors increases the site’s reputation. In saying this, it is important to thoroughly check any site you link to, as it is often taken as a tacit endorsement.
When engaging outside companies to develop and manage a medical center’s web presence, it is imperative that there is a strong agreement in place. This is particularly important if there is the potential for access to patient records by outside parties, either now or in the future.
IT Contract Templates is a great resource for doctors and practise managers, providing a checklist of items their IT agreements should contain in a way that is accessible to people without much technology experience. Using these checklists, a medical center can be confident they have covered all their bases while they work to build and maintain a strong web presence.
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