That means five things health systems need to deliver for their patients.
In this article, you’ll get five tips for your health system’s website, imperatives you need to plan for so you can best serve your audience.
Why is it important?
Let’s be clear, not every health system or hospital is ready for a major overhaul or modernization of their website. No matter how important it is, some organizations just aren’t ready. Bad timing. Bad budgets. Acceptable status quo.
However, often, you just need a landing page or a microsite for a service line campaign. Often, you just need a microsite to help launch a new brand campaign or get some great new creative out there. Perhaps you’ve added new physicians or capabilities. Perhaps the data shows you need to stop patient migration to a bigger system in a bigger city. Perhaps you need to launch a focus on recruitment and a campaign to demonstratively assert your health system’s improving quality to improve your patient loyalty.
When the process starts, there will be a number of voices advocating for a number of needs. A physician will want a specific video on his bio page. A board member believes you must lead with your system’s commitment to the community in a brand story video. Whatever it is, you must strategically align those voices, coalescing the work into something that represents internal needs, and, more importantly, serves the needs of your customers more than the desires of internal stakeholders.
When those early strategy sessions begin, it’s the best time to define the imperatives, the things you mustn’t forget, because your audience expects them. Make these things a part of your plan at the beginning and you’ll reap the rewards after you launch. And you’ll put your software engineers and developers in the best possible position to leverage their expertise to get those digital tools clicking for your audience. As you begin, never lose sight of the basics, the things health care consumers want the most, and the things that make your health system’s website the most valuable for them.
Here’s your guiding light.
There are hundreds of healthcare websites, but what makes a “good” healthcare website? One that provides the best info for patients, as quickly as possible.
Five imperatives to make sure your health system website serves your audience.
1. Relevant content – quick
What this means in practice is an easy-to-use search that helps you find exactly what you’re looking for as soon as possible. In some more complex cases it could mean having a profile on the website that helps identify your needs as soon as possible through machine learning techniques or even just a quick chat on the website where a bot or, ideally, a real human can help answer your questions as quick as possible.
2. Easy access to operational hours
If you’re making an appointment or if you’re just looking for a time to get your lab results or prescription, it can be helpful to see the hours, in real-time. Establishing the system to have the hours dynamically updated can mean less hassle when the Pharmacy or Lab is closed due to unforeseen circumstances or an off-day that pops up during the summer. In an ideal world, it would also mean being able to schedule your appointment right from the hours listed. That is how you deliver on convenience and empowerment for a patient, giving them control and putting them in charge.
3. Transparency on services offered, and how those services are performed
A user wants a healthcare website to clearly demonstrate the services offered, and how those services are offered. For example how are your lab results handled? How long does it take to get the results back? Going through a process with a health system can be scary if it’s your first time. By sharing graphics or simple icons on your website, to take the patient along a typical journey through those services, you can add a lot of value and assuage their trepidation. It’s a simple way to be sure you aren’t overwhelming someone going through the steps for the first time.
Paying your bill online should be something you see on most healthcare websites. Sometimes it does not make sense, especially if your insurance is covering it, but in the age of the Internet, and of peoples’ increasing expectation that things can just be done, easily, online, paying your bill online is something you should almost always look for.
Sometimes the healthcare facility you’re looking at will only have one location, so you’ll always know where to go, but sometimes they can be all over an entire region. A user will want to know that if they’re on vacation or traveling for work, they can find a location and find it fast. Sometimes, seeing that location online will be the first time they’ve heard about a place doing lab work and the doctor will have forgotten to tell the patient how to get there, but they’ll turn right to the name and website they have or remember. Having a location finder can be a godsend in finding the closest location. It’s extra helpful if you can combine the operational hours with locations, so you have all the info right away. Further, the site should be mobile friendly so you can view the map on your phone, and then click the location and automatically get detailed directions to the facility right into your navigator of choice. That’s when digital tools start working together to serve the patient you’re focused on.
It’s those little touches that can be integrated together when you plan, up front and early, for the imperatives you need to include to serve your patients’ desires.
It’s not enough to simply know you need these things for your audience.
You need to know how to make it happen.
Brady Moe is the lead software, dev/ops engineer at Core Creative, a branding agency that specializes in telling the life-changing stories for mid-market healthcare systems and the emerging med-tech world. This article was cowritten with Colin Deval, senior communications strategist at Core Creative.