5 Essential Features of Orthopedic Practice Websites

Laura Dyrda -   Print  |
Orthopedic practices have traditionally relied on word-of-mouth marketing and primary care referrals to attract patients. However, many of today's patients are tech-savvy people who rely on the Internet for their information, even when it comes to choosing where to receive their medical care. "When patients get referrals, they want to look up the practice website," says Ted Epstein, Director of Sales at Medical Web Experts. "If you don't have a website or have an unattractive one, you are at risk of losing your referred or potential patients."

The Internet can be a successful tool for practice marketing because physicians can track the website's effectiveness. Webmasters can use analytical tools to track how many times the website is viewed every month and which pages receive the most views. "Physicians are analytical and we can provide data that backs up the marketing," says Mr. Epstein. He discusses five key elements in a successful practice website.

1. Upload videos introducing the practice.
Practice leaders should create a short video for the website introducing themselves and the other physicians at the practice in front of a blue screen. Patients want to meet their physicians before they go into the office, says Mr. Epstein, and having the online video makes patients feel more familiar with the physicians than words on a page. The video should also include physicians talking about why they chose to practice orthopedics and why they enjoy their job.

2. Create five to eight navigation tabs. In addition to the home page, practice websites should have between five and eight tabs on the navigation bar to allow patients easy access to any information they need. The tabs should at least include the home page, patient education material, physician biographies, physician research, services provided and contact information. "Our philosophy is to have a simple user interface design," says Mr. Epstein. "You want all the information to be right in front of the patient."

It is especially important for practices to have the contact information readily available for patients who found the practice through Internet searches. When people move to new communities or are seeking orthopedic treatment without seeing a primary care physician, easy access to this information is essential. Patients also like to see each physician's Curriculum Vitae when deciding whether they should enlist the physician's services. An impressive CV can attract patients who are looking for the most skilled professionals in the area.

3. Mix pictures with text. On the initial pages, Mr. Epstein says pictures can be important for increasing patient interest in the website. However, after people navigate away from the introductory pages to the specific subpages about the practice or orthopedic treatment, he suggests relying more on text to carry the site. Additionally, when patients are diagnosed with a specific injury or disorder, they often use a search engine to find their diagnosis and educate themselves. The search engines will link the patient directly to the desired subpage. Including text-heavy pages about common diagnoses on the website could attract viewers, which expands the practice's reputation beyond the single community.

In some cases, pictures and diagrams can be helpful when explaining what procedures and conditions, but shouldn't expose patients to "gory" images of surgery. If a picture could turn the stomachs of some patients, it's best not to include on the website.

4. Incorporate patient education. Physicians can post the patient education information for each treatment or disorder on the website to accompany the information usually given to patients at the office. If patients lose their education packets, they can go online to find them. Physicians can also include supplemental information on the website and direct patients there after their visits. Having the information available online can also decrease the amount of paper copies made, which cuts practice expenses.

5. Promote the website in the office.
Practices should have information about the website available in the office waiting room and physicians should encourage their patients to explore the website after each visit. Driving patients to the website will increase the practice's exposure and give patients another way to interact with the practice. Patients who have a good experience with the practice's website are likely to remember it for the future. "You can't just build the website and have it work," says Mr. Epstein. "You have to promote it in the office."

Read more about Medical Web Experts.

Read other coverage on orthopedic practice marketing:

- 3 Marketing Strategies for Spine Practices

- 3 Tips for Marketing Orthopedic Practices

- 5 Ways Orthopedic Surgeons Can Improve Their Social Media Presence

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