Meaningful Use and Medical Website Design: 20 Tips for Practices
Medical practitioners are tasked with so many things beyond taking care of patients that it can be overwhelming. The Affordable Care Act and Meaningful Use guidelines have added several new twists that should ultimately (and hopefully!) benefit both the patient and the industry. Morey Publishing works with myriad healthcare professionals and understands the value of their time. Therefore, when it comes to medical website design, we follow strict guidelines that not only help our clients navigate ACA compliance and Meaningful Use guidelines but also improve user experience. We see our client’s websites as virtual waiting rooms that should be comfortable, efficient and friendly.
If you are contemplating an overhaul of your medical practice website, we have compiled a list of the guidelines we follow to help you organize the process.
1. Help Patients Find Your Practice Website
Make sure your practice website has the complete name of your practice as HTML text and not just as a logo or a graphic. This is also important for people who are using text-to-speech conversion software (used by persons who are blind or who have low vision). Ideally, the name of your practice should appear as text in several key spots:
- Near the top of the homepage, so it can be seen without scrolling
- Repeated in the HTML page title of every page of your site, for example, “Services and Procedures | Jones Family Medicine” and “Contact Us | Jones Family Medicine”
- Repeated on every page in a footer
- As the “alt” text code for a graphic or logo of your practice name
This will not only accommodate search engines and persons with disabilities, but will also improve your search engine rankings, which means your website listing will show up higher on the list of searches.
2. Have a Website as Responsive as your Practice
Thriving practices are ones that are responsive to the needs of the patient. Patient-centric care is far and away becoming the guiding philosophy in the healthcare field—and that’s a good thing. In the web design world, being “responsive” means something a little different but it’s just as important. Responsive Web Design means that your website displays differently on different devices. Thus, your website shouldn’t look the same on a smart phone as it does on a desktop. With more than 60% (and growing!) of Internet traffic coming from mobile devices the time to upgrade your website to a responsive design theme is now.
3. Help Patients Find and Contact Your Practice
Your practice location(s), address, phone number and email addresses are incredibly important. It’s great to have a Contact Us page that aggregates that information, but it should be in addition to that same information being prominently placed on your homepage and reiterated on every page in the footer. Again, as HTML text, not a picture. Also consider a link or connection to MapQuest, GoogleMaps or another similar free service.
4. After-hours and Urgent Care Coverage
Be sure that your practice’s hours are highlighted right on the homepage, and preferably again in the footer. Also be sure to clearly state what patients requiring care should do in an emergency or after hours.
5. Hospital Affiliations
Is your practice affiliated with specific hospitals in the area? Be sure and note that on your website and provide links where appropriate.
6. Insurance Plans and Information about Fees and Billing Policies
Make sure to list on your website which insurance plans your practice accepts. Consider verbiage such as “If you don’t see your plan listed here, please call us at 555-555-5555.″ Also clearly state your policies regarding fees and billing, including which if any credit cards you accept and whether you offer any sort of payment plans.
7. Online Patient History and/or Web Portal Login
Your website should have prominent links to your online patient history and your web portal login area. You may also want to call attention to these in-demand services with an attractive graphic.
8. New Patients “Fact Sheet”
Your practice’s website probably offers downloadable forms for new patients, but you should also consider creating a downloadable, printable practice fact sheet for new patients that addresses all the informational needs of new patients in one document. Adobe PDF is the preferred format. At minimum, include your practice name, address, phone number, hours, directions or a map and insurance plans.
9. Patient Education Content
Consider adding links to high-quality online content that can help your patients find out more about a disease, condition, lab test, etc. There is a great deal of misinformation on the Internet so it’s a benefit to your patients and potential patients to provide clear access to quality information that has been vetted by professionals and institutions that meet your standards and approval.
10. Patient Satisfaction Survey
An anonymous online patient satisfaction survey is a great way to get feedback. It can be as simple as a PDF form that patients can download, fill out and mail in or an inexpensive (under some circumstances they are even free) web survey service such as SurveyMonkey where the patient can submit an anonymous survey that will be automatically provided to your practice.
11. Prescription Refills
Your website should offer information on your practice’s refill policies as well as instructions for the preferred method(s) of requesting prescription refills. If you offer online refills, provide a link to your Web Portal or service.
12. Procedures for Referrals
Save your busy staff a phone call by outlining your policies for referrals on your Website. This is especially important if you offer referrals through a Web Portal or service.
13. Services and Procedures
Very often patients think that primary care doctors offer only limited services. If you offer expanded services and procedures in-office or through formalized relationships with other providers, be sure and promote this in detail on your website. Think search engines and users when writing your text– which is to say use the terminology that your patients would use rather than just offering a list of service and procedures in “doctor speak”. For example, describe “same day appointments” rather than open access scheduling, a term that is well-known by doctors and practices but foreign to patients.
14. Philosophy/Mission and Staff Bios
Your practice’s philosophy and/or mission is important to patients and can be a primary differentiator for new patients considering whether to choose your practice as their medical home. Don’t skimp on describing your mission and its importance to the entire staff, but be clear and concise. It’s also a great idea to offer short bios and photos of doctors, nurses and office staff. The focus should be on putting forward a friendly, accessible face for the practice. Consumers know the difference between stock photography and actual photos. Use original photography whenever possible.
15. Non-English Offerings
Consider offering content –especially basics such as location and contacts– in Spanish and/or other languages that may be prominent in your community.
16. Project a Friendly and Professional Image
Your practice website is your online waiting room or reception for your practice so make sure your homepage projects a friendly, uncluttered look that’s professional, pleasant and easy to understand. Graphics should not be seasonal unless you plan to change them often.
17. Patient Registration and Forms
Ensure patients can make appointments, register and access important forms no matter where they are. Practices can use a patient portal or provide a PDF version of the registration form on their website. Putting the registration form under “new patient” or “welcome” on one’s site will allow patients to find it easily.
18. Regulation and Oversight
Your website should list any and all accreditations, affiliations and compliance agencies that oversee your particular industry. Offer a disclaimer that while your practice follows all necessary guidelines, your website may not necessarily reflect regulatory changes. Thus, establishing outbound links to specific pages on the agency websites that refer to your industry ensures that patients and clients have access to the most updated regulatory information possible.
20. Original Content
Many medical sites offer technical information that is directly sourced from professional journals or government websites. While this is a good practice, any duplicate content will hurt your results on the search engines. Ask your representative about ways to block search indexing on these specific pages while boosting attention on original published content. Remember that high quality, timely, relevant information published frequently is the most important thing your site can offer to both your potential clients as well as the search engines. A great website will display recent blog, news and other alerts or updates to ensure the content looks fresh and timely. This helps patients feel comfortable that their doctor is engaged with the community and current issues. It also makes the practice look “fresher, bigger and more sophisticated. Practices will also be “rewarded’ by Google, if you show you are constantly updating, the site and “will rank higher than other practices.”
About Morey Publishing
Morey Publishing is a Long Island-based publishing and digital marketing company that produces socially responsible content and provides traditional and interactive solutions for our clients. The success of the Long Island Press allowed Morey Publishing to diversify and create Private Label; this division leverages our ability to produce high-quality content married with stunning design into custom publishing for corporate and non-profit clients that share our values and commitment to the region.
We expanded our services in 2013 to include interactive services for our clients. From designing and hosting websites to providing telecommunication services, Morey Publishing takes a holistic approach to our clients’ advertising, marketing and branding needs. Our success was built on the trust we established between our clients and our audience. Thus the tagline: “Socially Responsible Media.” Morey Publishing seeks to work with for-profit and non-profit organizations that share our value system and integrity.
Establishing a high level of trust between your company and ours is at the heart of our philosophy. We have been able to accomplish this trust with our team of award winning journalists who remain on top of the most current trends and regulations.
Contact us today to take your practice’s website to the next level.