Most publicly funded medical clinics in Canada have not developed their own website. Unfortunately, they are missing out on an extremely beneficial communication tool. For as little as $14 per month, you can have a hosted website that is very easy to update with valuable information for your patients.
- Hours of operation and changes to regular schedule for holiday hours
- Policies and procedures patients need to be informed about, e.g. prescription renewals, preparation for particular procedures. (Having this information available on your site reduces calls to the office)
- Information regarding new programs you are introducing
- General information about support staff and who to contact in certain situations
- Fillable or downloadable forms for new patients
- Links to third party software programs such as Ocean Forms by CognisantMD and Survey Monkey
- Referring information for outside providers to refer into your clinic
- Reputable links for clinical information
- Online appointment booking options
- Upload a quick video such as a tour of the clinic or a welcome video
- Any general news updates, for example, same-day booking changes
If you are not overly creative and admit that building your own website isn’t for you, poll your office staff to see if any of them would be interested in doing this after hours to earn some overtime. It takes a bit of time and commitment from you and the employee to develop the content, but once it has been done, the time needed to maintain the site is very minimal.
If you are not comfortable in this arena, web developers (usually located within your community), charge anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 to put together a basic website. Once the site is published, you or your designate can then be granted administrative access to make updates and changes as necessary.
It is also helpful to ask your patients/clients what they would like to see on the website. Provide them with an opportunity to add their input. If you happen to have a Facebook page, poll your followers to find out what they would like to know. Another way to get their input is having staff ask them when they check in for their appointment or have them fill out a quick questionnaire that captures their satisfaction overall as well as suggestions for future content. You may be surprised at their responses.
Some SEO (search engine optimization) and web building tips if you "go it alone":
- Keep the language simple and pages uncluttered.
- There are many royalty free or low cost image sites available on the Internet to download beautiful images to add to your site.
- Name your images, separated by a hyphen or an underscore using keywords so that Google is able to identify them as valid images that are attached to your website.
- Ensure the website template you choose has been written for all platforms (e.g. mobile, desktop and tablet) for easy readability.
- Develop a simple page structure that makes sense to the viewer. Put yourself in their position and present information that is relevant.
- Regularly update the site to keep information fresh. This is especially important for private clinics to drive traffic to your site from a marketing perspective. Google rewards regularly updated sites and increases visibility in Google search.
Websites are the basic foundation in forming an open and important dialogue with your patients, outside of the examination room.