6 Essential Elements for Surgery Center Websites

Written by Laura Dyrda | December 01, 2010 | Print  |
Websites are very important business and marketing tools for surgery centers, says Bill Rabourn, founder and managing principal of Medical Consulting Group, and many ASCs are designing sites easily accessible for their patients. "We suggest that surgical centers have an in-depth website on what the facility offers and how patients can access the facility," says Mr. Rabourn. "You want patients to come to the surgery center relaxed, educated and ready to go to get the best possible outcomes." He discusses six of the most important elements of effective surgery center websites.

1. Location, contact and parking information. Be sure to include the surgery center's address, phone number and where the patient should park for their visits on the website, says Mr. Rabourn. Many of the patients searching the website have never been to the facility before and they will want to know this information before heading out. Printable driving directions are also nice to include on the site. This way, patients can share them with their driver on the day of surgery. The website should also list other amenities, such as a covered area for picking up patients after surgery, which might be different from the physician's office building or clinic. "Patients may not be aware of some of the things the surgical center has that the clinic doesn't," says Mr. Rabourn. An easy way to provide additional location information is by including an online map, such as Google Maps or MapQuest, of the surrounding area. Many times while researching the surgery center, patients like to contact the center by e-mail if they have questions after hours. Including a "Contact Us" box on the site lets prospective patients contact you at their own convenience.

2. Patient forms. Have a copy of the patient forms available to download from the site and encourage patients to complete them before their visit to the surgery center to decrease the amount of time the patient spends filling out paperwork at the facility, says Mr. Rabourn. If the patients have already completed their paperwork, their time at the ASC will likely go more smoothly and quicker.

3. Educational materials. Uploading patient educational materials to the website is a convenient way for patients to access treatment and rehabilitation information for each injury or condition. Some patients, especially young patients, will look for the educational material before having surgery so they are prepared for the entire experience. The material is also helpful for patients who lose the hard copies given to them at the surgery center. "We like to put the educational material or brochure on the site in a flipbook format," says Mr. Rabourn. "If I can click on the website and see where I'm going, whether I need a driver, where I'm going to park, how long I'm going to be there and what I'll need to do after the surgery, I'm going to the [center] with all the information I need for the procedure."

4. Pictures and photo tours. The website should include several photographs of the inside of the facility on different pages or as a compilation "photo tour." The images help new or potential patients visualize the facility before they arrive for their appointment or surgery, which can make the experience more comfortable, says Mr. Rabourn. "It used to be that websites were very copy heavy," says Mr. Rabourn. The more attractive the website is for the patients, the more comfortable they will feel with the surgery center and their procedure.

5. Video clips.
Take short video testimonials of patients at the surgery center talking about their experience. "We love to incorporate when possible video testimonials from patients about how the surgery center is unique from the hospital," says Mr. Rabourn. "We tell patients about the differences between the facility and their traditional experience." The website can also upload professional animated videos of a procedure for patient education. Including the video can help the patient understand what his or her procedure will look like beyond a verbal or written explanation. "If we can get the website to read or speak to the patient, we think that's better," Mr. Rabourn says.

6. Physician profiles and links. The website should include surgeon profiles stating their credentials and professional affiliations so the patients know their surgeon's qualifications. If the surgeon has a professional website or Facebook page, the website should link to those locations as well. "We want to link up the site with the doctor's sites and other key sites so patients can find them easily," says Mr. Rabourn. The number of surgeons with personal websites or connected to Facebook has been growing in recent years and patients often seek out these pages to become comfortable with their surgeon before the procedure. "Facebook pages are something that's relatively new, but we really encourage the physicians to use it," Mr. Rabourn says. "They don't have to be the ones who manage their Facebook page, but it's an important business tool."

Learn more about Medical Consulting Group.

Read more coverage on medical web marketing:

- 5 Ways Orthopedic Surgeons Can Improve Their Social Media Presence

- 500 Million Potential Patients on Facebook: Why Your Practice Needs Social Media

- 5 Essential Features of Orthopedic Practice Websites

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