The Patient Experience Starts Online

Healthcare is changing. The move toward value-based care has put patients in the driver’s seat and patient experience is as important as ever. 

Practices are analyzing areas of patient experience like wait times, provider communication, office staff and others. These are very important, but we should all recognize that the experience, for most patients, starts online.

77% of patients do an online search
before booking an appointment.

If the experience begins before a patient steps into the waiting room, what can a practice do to ensure their website positively affects patient experience?

Start by addressing four areas of the website experience that can positively impact patient experience. 

Patient Experience Starts Online

Understand Websites Deliver Information

New technologies to enhance websites roll out every day. Advanced programming and features are pushing the envelope of what’s possible on the web. With these new-fangled features, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that websites deliver information – content is still king.

Does this sound familiar?
You are browsing a website that looks great with a lot of fancy bells and whistles, but it leaves you frustrated because you can’t find the information you’re looking for.

Here are a few ways to keep information in focus:

  • Know your audience.
    Cover the basics by looking at the demographics of the patients in your practice. Pass along basic info to your website developer like average age. A good website developer will use this information to choose color schemes, font sizes, etc. Don’t stop at demographics. Develop healthcare personas to help you determine what kind of content you should include on your website.

  • Keep your navigation simple.
    The larger the practice or organization, the harder it is to create a simple, easy-to-use navigation that gets visitors to the info they are looking for as quickly as possible. No matter the size of your organization, work at it. Ask for website feedback from visitors with a service like Hotjar.

  • Create helpful content.
    Get your patients, and potential patients, the information they are looking for by creating relevant content.
    • 93 million Americans search for health information online. 
    • 66% look for information on a specific disease or medical problem.
      (Pew Internet Research)

Allow Visitors to Make Appointments 

As technology has allowed consumers to do more online, they have expectations as to what is possible and a desire to do more online. Why get caught in a phone tree or sit on hold when you can book an appointment at your convenience?

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, only about 20 percent of practices offer online scheduling for patients.

Allowing patients to make appointments online puts them in the driver’s seat, positively contributing toward the patient experience.

New Patient Intake Forms

Intake forms are a necessary part of the process. These forms give healthcare providers medical history, billing information, and much more.

Allowing patients to complete these forms online is important for several reasons:

  • It’s easier and more convenient for the patient. The patient will be able to complete the forms in advance of their first appointment, day or night, and they will have access to their records to properly complete the forms without feeling rushed.

  • It prevents errors. Any data that has to be input by hand by staff runs the risk of being input incorrectly. Allowing patients to submit their data electronically reduces the risk of errors during data entry.

  • It saves money. When patients submit intake forms online, it frees staff to do other things. 

HIPAA Compliant/Security

It’s not possible to discuss the website experience, without mentioning security and HIPAA.

An SSL certificate (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard for online encryption. This ensures that data passed between the website server and the visitor’s browser remains private.

From booking appointments to intake forms, be sure that every service used on the website, including third party services, is HIPAA compliant.

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About the Author Casey O'Quinn

Casey founded Gravity Digital in 2000 after serving as the Internet Services Director for a Nashville-based Ad Agency. He's a rare breed that operates both left and right brain, so along with oversight of the company he's active in the creative process for our clients.

Follow Casey O'Quinn: LinkedIn |

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