When did you last take a good, objective look at your practice website? If the answer is a year or two (or more) ago when you created it or last revised it, then it’s probably time to freshen your site up with an eye toward making it patient-friendly. Remember, a website is not a static document, but rather a dynamic tool that should be evaluated and revised on a regular basis. Here are 13 tips to consider that can help make your site patient-friendly.
Follow these recommendations
- Make sure the text on your site is large enough and in a font that is easy to read. Arial, Verdana, and Tahoma are all good font choices. Avoid anything cutesy or ornate.
- Make your site easy to navigate by using page/menu titles that are clear and lead patients to the information they need with as few clicks as possible. For example, name a menu tab “New Patient Forms” instead of just “Forms.”
- Eliminate unnecessary pages. Sometimes when a site is originally designed, pages are included that end up being redundant or simply not needed or used. Streamline your practice site so that what’s there is easy to find and not buried under a bunch of unnecessary information.
- If pages are too long (i.e., if patients have to scroll and scroll and scroll some more to find what they’re looking for), consider dividing information and creating links to new pages.
- Use audio and video on the site only if and where it is actually useful. Scrolling text and blinking icons can be distracting. Remember the old adage, “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”
- Go through your site to check that all links to other sites are still functional.
- Periodically open all of the pages on your website using the most popular browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera) to ensure that the pages are formatted correctly and load quickly.
- Put your most used forms (e.g., new patient data, medical history) on the site in PDF format so that patients can print and fill these out at home prior to their office visit.
- If you have a significant number of residents in your community for whom English is not their first or preferred language, consider having some or all of your pages translated in to the appropriate language(s).
- If you maintain a blog, post to it regularly. If a patient (or potential patient) comes to your site and sees that the most recent post was in 2012, that sends a message that you’re not on the ball.
- Add “Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter” icons if you use those social media platforms to stay in touch with patients.
- Add a secure page to your site where patients can pay their bills online. More and more, people expect to be able to pay with their keyboard and mouse rather than with their pen and checkbook.
- Patient portals are becoming more common and, most likely, will become standard practice over the next few years. This feature allows patients to schedule appointments, request prescription refills, and even access their personal medical information online. Google “patient portal” to research the possibilities and find companies that offer this service.