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Make your Web site patient-friendly

The Doctor's Office, April 17, 2008

When planning your Web site design, begin by searching a few other physician practice Web sites in your immediate area. Note the features of the site that appeal to you, as well as those areas that would not work for your practice.

Another helpful technique is to pretend you are a patient attempting to get information about your office. What information do you want and where would you tend to look for it? Provide your webmaster with a list of sites you find outstanding, and work with him or her to emulate the most appealing characteristics of each.

Aim to give visitors to your site an interactive experience. For example, if you have a practice brochure or newsletter, invite patients to download it.

Consider the following interactive possibilities that would allow patients to:

  • Submit completed forms online Print forms to fill out at home and bring to the office
  • Schedule appointments directly into the software program
  • E-mail requests to appointment personnel
  • Receive billing information
  • Access their balance information
  • Make direct payments by credit card, PayPal, etc.
  • E-mail the billing department
  • Learn about procedure preparation instructions (e.g., preparation for colonoscopy or nuclear medicine study)
  • View pictures of outside signage and procedure rooms

At a minimum, be sure to include the following information:

  • Full name of practice
  • Practice location(s)
  • Provider name(s) and bio information
  • Hours of operation
  • Services available
  • Insurance information
  • Contact information
  • Office policies
  • Refill requests
  • Referral requests
  • Financial issues
  • Emergency contact information
  • Medical records release
  • HIPAA notice

Carefully interview any Web designers that you have chosen to build your site. Ask them about all costs associated with the site, including how many changes you can make without incurring additional charges. When you launch the Web site, you will make multiple changes within the first year. Contact your local specialty societies to inquire about any discount programs available for Web design through your membership.

A patient’s first impression of your Web site is important, so do your research. The benefits to your practice will be enormous.


Shannon Sousa is the editor of The Doctor's Office. She may be reached at ssousa@hcpro.com. This story was adapted from one that first appeared in the March edition of The Doctor’s Office, a publciation by HealthLeaders Media.