Healthcare Providers Investing In Website User Satisfaction
7 ways to improve healthcare website patient experience and profitability
Healthcare provider organizations nationwide are managing the pandemic as best they can. Its geographic shifts are unpredictable as outbreak peaks and troughs continue. This has accelerated the enhancement of digital and website resources to maintain patient care. Hospitals, health systems, medical groups and specialty practices are seeking ways to better manage and enhance the user experience of their websites and ROI performance. These are 7 essential starting points for healthcare organization leaders to evaluate and improve website resources in terms of patient support and commercial contributions as well as account for in budgetary needs.
Enhance patient portals while monitoring their use
The widespread adoption of patient portals to share information between medical professionals and patients is here to stay. They reduce phone calls into practices while enabling patients and clinicians to quickly, securely communicate. Important features they possess include appointment scheduling, billing, discharge summaries, insurance verification and updates, lab testing results, prescription renewals, secure email plus other options. Easy to use patient portals are now expected by many consumers to be standard conveniences offered by their healthcare providers.
To increase patient portal success, a patient portal review program is a must. As patient portal traffic builds, a dashboard is needed to summarize the data about its usage. This will help the provider organization better understand just what patients value in it most. It will enable the provider organization to ask the right survey questions to learn why certain elements of the patient portal are used less or more than expected. The information can also be applied to learn about satisfaction levels in using them and learn what they would like to have added or changed in the existing features.
Communicate what’s new on the homepage
The website is an important point-of-contact between patients and provider organizations for care and promotional purposes. When established or prospective patients go to a website, it’s important to let them know how the hospital or medical group is changing to become better at achieving the goals of their care mission. The home page is a strategic place to inform them of key improvements and convey a sense of vibrancy about the provider organization whether it’s a hospital, medical group or specialty practice. Consumers want to be reassured their provider organization is investing in the improvement of its own ability to provide quality care to them.
Many provider organizations make the mistake of posting information about new improvements and strategic developments at places on the website that readers don’t typically frequent on each visit. These organizations are at a disadvantage to competitors that consistently and skillfully position and promote their advancements in care through prominent postings in their web content.
Dedicating a section on the homepage to new developments or featuring a tab to be clicked to go to a “What’s New” landing page are good options to consider. What are some of the things to feature in the “What’s New” content?
- New clinicians and other staff joining the organization
- Additional conveniences, services, technology (new medical specialties, telehealth, robotic surgery, etc.) being offered
- New insurance plans accepted
- Updated patient care hours
- New locations
- Commemorative events such as National Heart Health Month, Breast Cancer Awareness, etc.
- Awards and other recognition earned attributable to quality patient care
- Seasonal health alerts and updates (allergy, flu, etc.)
It is equally important not to let the “What’s New” content languish. It should be refreshed with updated content a minimum of at least every 3 months so website visitors see ongoing positive activity underway. These measures should be mirrored in social media postings as well.
Monitor website usage
To maintain and improve the website, a website review program is a priority. Similar to the dashboard used to monitor how the patient portal is used by patients, a dashboard needs to be developed to determine what resources patients use most or less frequently on the website. Based on this information, patients can be surveyed to find out what their satisfaction level is regarding the use of the website and how it may be improved. This provides the data and guidance so provider organizations can technically and financially plan for enhancements. Once changes are made, followup assessments are necessary to determine if the changes are being well received by patients.
Prepare to display emergency information on the home page in advance
Various events occur that impact standard operating hours of operations or threaten public health. Such events may include blizzards, earthquakes, hurricanes/tornados, wildfires and other disruptions. Rather than struggle with ad hoc measures of how and where to feature information about these challenges on the website, predetermine how these details can be aesthetically and prominently displayed on short notice without obscuring other homepage content (be sure to include this capability for social media platforms as well). Being able to communicate the operating status of the facility and acknowledging/communicating a threat to public safety keeps persons informed and assured that their healthcare provider is cognizant of their care and personal safety.
Strategically account for mobile use by patients
Consumers continue to rely more on their smartphones for many purposes beyond phone calls. The digital resources provided by medical organizations need to account for this. Anything that is displayed on websites and social media should be equally accessible and clearly read on mobile devices. Within the website dashboard, account for how mobile users access and use the website differently than desktop users to identify other opportunities for improving the user experience.
In terms of developing specialty phone apps beyond website-based access and content display quality, careful planning has to be taken upfront. Developing unique, proprietary apps has great appeal for provider organizations seeking to demonstrate their cutting edge use of technology. Likewise, tech-savvy consumers and those persons who manage many household tasks via mobile tools love the utility that specialty apps provide.
Before going all-in on developing new apps, it’s important to know in advance just how many persons will benefit from them daily. Many apps are downloaded and seldom if ever used or eventually deleted. Provider organizations should avoid investing in the development of apps that don’t have a wide appeal as they will have to be maintained and potentially upgraded regardless of usage. There may be other digital assets (including apps that have greater demand) that can use the funding and technical support to more effectively engage patients.
Learning from competitors and peers
A formal plan should be in place that conducts periodic inquiries as to the changes and improvements that take place in other healthcare provider organization websites and social media. These can be competitors in the immediate geographic area or other locations that are comparable to the provider organization conducting the review.
The purpose of this is to learn from the successes or shortcomings of the other organizations. This spans how other providers embrace the user experience in their website design, the informative nature of their website and social media content, ways they use digital assets and digital marketing strategy to attract and retain more patients, engage their surrounding communities plus other attributes.
Reviewing the websites and social media outside of the immediate area provides further benefits. It is a way to identify new strategies and trends in other markets that have not yet emerged in the reviewer’s market. This enables them to take action in advance, demonstrate their care and digital leadership while avoiding the pressure of having to catch up with rivals.
Lockdown security and operational viability of website and social media resources
Privacy, security and reliability of digital assets are paramount in healthcare. Even minor, accidental lapses in privacy and security can lead to fines and considerable embarrassment for healthcare provider organizations. The threat of hackers is always present and technical problems can truly hobble a healthcare organization’s ability to operate.
Patients, consumers, clinicians, administrative staff, payers and numerous other stakeholders depend on the website and associated digital assets to be in good working order. All too often provider organizations under-invest or entirely neglect technology and security upgrades that would require modest expenses upfront to acquire and prevent the risk of unauthorized access to data or system failure. Monitoring and funding resources must be purposely allocated to the website and social media platforms to ensure patient confidentiality and operational stability.
Looking to the future
Digital resources encompassing websites, social media and smartphones have been growing in usage and importance for decades. Their care, convenience and competitive attributes are well established. The pandemic multiplied and accelerated this already escalating trend in a matter of months. The medical and executive leadership of medical groups, hospitals, health systems and specialty practices are adept to change and innovation. Moving forward, the digital realm will continue to evolve as an important element in their patient care, organizational management and financial priorities.
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