People are increasingly turning to their smartphones and other electronic devices for their everyday needs – including their health. This means medical websites need to be modern, effective and functionally friendly. Websites are becoming more of an asset to businesses than ever before, and medical practices are no exception.

Content, design and online marketing initiatives are not enough for a website to be considered great and to drive revenue growth. How your users feel when they’re using your website is hugely important.

Medical websites need to be crafted to be more than just a business card or a billboard – these websites need to serve as reassuring, educational platforms for patients.

What is User Experience?

User experience (UX) is the latest in a group of buzzwords for successful websites and internet marketing in general. UX refers to the overall experience of a person using a product, in this case a website, with particular focus on ease of use. It describes how a person feels during the interaction.

Successful UX is about meeting the needs of the user while integrating simplicity with elegance. Users typically rate their website experiences based on some or all of the following factors:

  • The time it takes for the website and landing pages to load
  • The availability of customer support
  • Tone of the copy on the website as well as color selection
  • How well the site functions
  • Marketing content on the site
  • The manner in which financial matters are presented

UX is not the same thing as “usability,” but both are important things to consider when designing your medical practice’s website. You need to make sure the answer to both the following questions is “yes”:

  1. “Can users accomplish their goals on my website?”
  2. “Do users have the best possible experience on my website?

If your UX strategy doesn’t meet both these metrics, you could lose existing patients and cause prospective patients to go elsewhere for a different provider.

What Are Patients Looking For?

Having the right information in accessible places is a good start for creating a positive UX on your medical website, but patients are looking for something more personal when they’re pursuing health care information. There are three major attributes that can help facilitate this personal feeling, including:

Human factors. Medical websites should take into account the different situations patients may be faced with – including poor or altered vision, cognitive impairment or low dexterity – that may impede on their ability to communicate easily.

Family context. Families often play a large role in people’s healthcare. Designing the system to allow caregivers to communicate with health providers and then with the patient can help to streamline care, lower frustrations and open up new opportunities.

Emotionality. The potential emotional state of patients should be taken into account when drafting copy for medical websites, especially for particularly stressful health conditions.

Health is a Personal Experience, Even Online

UX is important for every business to consider when designing their website, but healthcare organizations are especially vulnerable to the consequences of a bad UX strategy. Patients visit medical practice websites expecting them to serve as an easily accessible portal for records of their personal and health information. Patients don’t want to navigate confusing, unhelpful websites when they are sick or even just trying to take care of themselves.

Ultimately, developing positive UX in healthcare requires focusing on the improvement of quality interactions between the patient and the organization.  The communication between the website and the patient needs to feel genuine enough that it seems like there’s a human on the other side. Positive experiences on health websites can lead to increased patient engagement, higher interest in your healthcare offerings they may not have originally considered getting from your organization and a higher likelihood that they will share your content and brand with other people. Taken together, UX helps optimize patient retention rates while attracting new patients.

As an added benefit, in providing a better UX for your patients you are ultimately helping to relieve the workload of your administrative staff. When your website allows for appointments to be made online, for test results to be reported and posted, and for general communication facilitation between patient and the office without the phone, it frees up administrative staff to take of the many in-house tasks that are likely on their to-do list.

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