Your website is the door to your practice. It’s also where you want patients to land when searching for providers online. In our increasingly plugged-in society, people now spend more than eight hours a day consuming media. If you manage to get patients and prospects to your website, how do you make sure they find it interesting and useful, and truly engage with the meaningful content that’s there? And how do you make sure your site stands a cut above your competitors’?

The following approaches can help capture the attention of patients and prospective patients and get them to engage with more of what you have to offer, creating better informed — and more loyal — customers.

Include useful tools and information

Patients and prospective patients are more likely to visit and revisit your practice’s website if they discover useful tools when they arrive. Information that helps patients understand your practice and their health will encourage lengthier visits to your site and position you as a source of quality health information.

  • Increasingly, more and more people are using online booking tools to schedule their medical appointments, and research predicts that two-thirds of patients will do so in five years. If you don’t have a system in place on your website for online booking, or haven’t enabled it, it’s time to turn it on!
  • Doctor and staff bios: Patients and prospective patients want to know who they are going to be dealing with when they come in for appointments — particularly which doctor or doctors will be taking care of them. Use your website as an opportunity to introduce yourself and your staff to patients. Bios should include similar information, like education, number of years in practice, and if possible, a professional head shot.
  • Periodic or seasonal alerts, displayed in a prominent location: Most websites are equipped with the capability to enable an alert bar either at the top of the page or in a sidebar. Use this prime, “above-the-fold” real estate to make timely announcements: “Vision screening for back to school available now!”
  • Information about common conditions and procedures: New patients may be visiting your website to do research on a particular condition or before considering an elective procedure. In fact, health-related research is among the top three online activities worldwide. Providing quality information about common conditions and procedures can help patients feel empowered BEFORE they come in for a consult. Video, in particular, has been shown to be a more effective educational tool for the up to 85 percent of people who identify as visual learners, and can also help improve your website’s search engine optimization.

Use data to discover what patients are visiting most

Tools like heatmaps and Google Analytics In-Page Analytics can help you see where people are clicking the most when they visit your site. Knowing this can help you make informed decisions about what kinds of content you should publish. For example, you could expect to see the most clicks coming to your appointment booking tool — but what about after that? Are clicks clustering on the button leading to doctor bios? If so, it might pay to move some of that content to your homepage, where it’s more easily accessible, or to at least be sure to include some kind of conspicuous message letting visitors know where they can find that information.

Add calls to action

There are a few straightforward measures you can implement right away to encourage more engagement with different tools and content. At the end of every page or piece of content, ask your readers to take some kind of action: suggest another piece of content to read, push readers to investigate staff bios, or even just invite them to “contact us.” Also, add a button in a consistent location across all pages that encourages patients to book an appointment.

Including social media icons on your site is also important, and embedding them is fairly straight forward. Some 40 percent of people use social media to find information about physicians and treatments, so letting patients know that you’re on Twitter and Facebook and encouraging them to visit you there is increasingly more important.

Create a patient portal

In an age when patients are used to being able to do pretty much everything online, many have come to expect to be able to access personalized information via a convenient patient portal on your website. Patient portals are also necessary for your practice to stay competitive, as the number of doctors implementing them is skyrocketing, and required for qualifying for government EHR incentives.

Implementing even one of these approaches can help boost engagement with existing and potential patients on your website. And, if patients find what they need on your website, they may not need to call the office, reducing the staff time associated with fielding or returning calls.

To find out more about how to engage patients on your website, see what Rendia can do for your practice by signing up for a free two-week trial.