Webinar: How to Empower Patients with Your Website

Patients are turning to online sources for guidance when making medical decisions. If your website has the right features in place, it can guide patients through the process, empowering them to make important health decisions.

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Slide 1: Welcome

Hi and welcome to today’s webinar, “How to Empower Patients with Your Website.” We’ll be looking at a few different factors today to look at how we can help your patients more, based on the way that patient expectations are changing, and what you can do to meet those expectations. Basically, the whole concept that we’re trying to get across is in your practice you already know how to engage your patients, how to empower your patients. We’re going to look at how we can take that experience and put it onto the web as well.

Slide 2: About P3 Inbound

My name is Michael Roberts, I’m the marketing director at Mudbug Media. We’re based out of New Orleans, that’s kind of where we get the quirky name. We’ve created this platform called the P3 Inbound Platform, and the P3 stands for patients, pathologies, and procedures. Overall we’re trying to help practices gain control. There’s a lot of things that are changing in the field of medicine, there’s a lot of factors that … we’re actually looking at some of those changes today. By helping practices gain more control over what they’re doing, we’re going to help them try to get the right patients, the right pathologies, and the right procedures.

Slide 3: Consumer Expectations

As we’re looking at some of these changing expectations, I’d like to help define what it is that’s actually changing. There’s a lot of different ways where medicine is changing, but the patient himself or herself is actually changing as well. We are getting used to booking flights online, we’re getting used to making any kind of reservation, going through and being able to complete all of these actions online. It’s surprising almost when people don’t offer that ability, it’s just become such a part of that expectation.

In last month’s webinar, we talked about how people are getting used to this whole concept of online shopping, even when it comes to their physician. They’re looking at review sites. They’re looking at a lot of different sources of information. You can go back to that webinar section that we have on our website and review that information.

In terms of how it affects you on your website, just know that patients are looking for that same kind of service in terms of being able to get completely prepared before they have to come into your practice.

Slide 4: Patient Satisfaction

We all know that patient satisfaction is an important metric in medicine. It’s continuing to become more and more important for everybody that’s involved. Practices have done a good job of figuring out how to start engaging people, and how to start measuring how well they’re doing with patients and start figuring out what areas they can improve on. But, that focus doesn’t always transition over to the web. We’re doing well in the offices, but maybe we’re not doing so well online.

What we’re looking for is, what can we do to help set the tone before the patient arrives? How can we help that patient’s expectations be set, and set them in the right way that there are no surprises? That’s one of our big mantras around the office here is, what can we do to help alleviate everyone’s surprises?

There’s a lot of times where, especially if a patient’s going to a practice for the first time, they can experience a lot of anxiety. There’s a lot of unknowns that are going into that scenario. Think about if you’re an orthopedic practice, and we work with a lot of orthopedic practices through the services that we offer. If you’re going to see an orthopedic surgeon, your primary care physician, or somebody has let you know that, “Hey, I think you have a problem with this.”

Let’s say you’re having hip pain, or let’s say you have arthritis, you have whatever those things are, and now they’re telling you that you need to go see a surgeon. Which automatically jumps to, “Oh no, I need surgery,” and automatically jumps to a lot of other concerns. Anticipating their needs, anticipating the needs of your patient, and helping them out in every way that you can is going to help alleviate a lot of that anxiety. It’s going to help them get a better feel for what they’re going into and not have that same kind of worry.

Slide 5: Website’s 3 Main Goals

Here’s the big idea that we’re trying to get across with today’s webinar–your website needs to do these three things. I would argue that everybody that is looking at this kind of material, they’re already doing that for your practice, you’re already doing that if you’re at a hospital, you’re already doing these kinds of things for patients in person, but maybe you’re not doing it online in the way that you could. Those three main goals: guide, explain, and enable.

Slide 6: Guide Your Patients

Let’s take a look at guiding your patient. When you think about it in terms of–let’s call it real life rather than online experiences–if a patient wants to get in touch with you that patient can give you a call on the phone, they can email you, they can even drop by your practice and just come up and talk to you if they need to. There’s a lot of ways that you make it easy for the patient to get in contact with you. You’re making yourself available to them, you’re making yourself ready to answer their questions, ready to help them out.

If you think about when somebody walks into the practice for the first time, there are signs that clearly label where they should be. Here’s the waiting room, here are the rooms for the actual meetings, the actual appointments, here’s where you sign in, all of that kind of stuff. You’re already clearly labeling that. Again, this is where sometimes our websites don’t do this as well.

Slide 7: Modern Website Design

Let’s talk about modern website design. Let’s shift this to sort of an online focus. Are you giving that kind of appearance, are you giving the kind of look and feel that you would hope that your patient would experience? You know, I’ve been looking for a dentist to find, to be that next person that’s going to help me out with that. I’ve done a lot of research on which dentist I want to go see, and there’s a lot of different ideas that you think about in terms of, “Well do they work with my insurance well? Do they handle this kind of information well? Are they actually going to do what I need?” A lot of that initial impression is formed very quickly by a couple of things.

One, how does their practice actually look? I drive by a lot of dentists offices on my way into work, and there are some buildings where I am clearly not going into that building. I’m clearly not going to book an appointment with that dentist. Same thing, even if you think about your waiting area. If you have folding chairs in your waiting area, that’s clearly a sign that, “Hey, we’re not really putting too much into this, we’re ready to close up shop and go somewhere else any day.” It’s not exactly a very encouraging process for your patients.

The same kind of thing happens online. If you have something that’s very, very … I don’t want to pick on any one particular vendor too much. But if you have something that’s very clearly a stock template, and your information is just kind of thrown on top of a generic looking office, or whatever that may be, there’s a clear lack of commitment to this particular source of communication.

Even if you do have a site that was great five years ago, ten years ago, and it’s just not keeping up, it’s the same thing. It’s the same kind of thought process to, “Hey that building is starting to really look old, and I don’t know if they’re really committed to doing this kind of work well.” These appearances really matter. They form a lot of impressions very quickly in your patients. You want to form the right kinds of impressions.

Slide 8: Mobile-Friendly Design

Mobile friendly design, so again thinking about all the different ways a patient can get in contact with you. Whether they called you on the phone, or whether they walked in the door, already your practice is making itself available to your patients by the form of contact that they want to use. You’re doing what you can to help them out more, and your practice may even be bilingual, you may have people that are ready to help people of different origins. You may be ready for all these kinds of things, but again, are you focusing on that online as well?

When we talk about mobile friendly design, we often refer to responsive website designs, which means that your website looks good on any device. It’s the same amount of information, you can find what you need for all of your pages, all of that good stuff. This has become increasingly important because we work with several hundred websites, practices all around the country, and in a few different treatment areas. One of the things that we’re seeing over and over is that the mobile traffic rates have been increasing. This is the number of patients that are coming to your site on a phone, or on a tablet, some sort of device like that.

That number has been growing steadily over the last few years, and we’re now seeing an average of 35-40%. In a lot of cases we’re seeing much higher numbers. If you have a blog that produces a lot of information that’s very relevant to your patients, that sort of thing, we’re seeing some mobile rates of like 70%. Most of the time people are coming to those sites on mobile devices instead of on the desktop. That’s surprising to a lot of people because when you think about what your health needs are, and you think about trying to find the right doctor, you think of it being a very intensive process. Having to really sit down and wade through all the options.

That’s happening, people are still using these sites on desktops of course, and on laptops, and all that good stuff. That initial research period is definitely happening on mobile devices more and more often. Also, even just things like, “I’m just trying to get to my doctor’s office and I don’t remember where it’s at.” I do a quick Google search, and find your information online. I’m just on my phone so I need to be able to find that address quickly, and be able to get to your practice simply.

Slide 9: Easy to Navigate

That leads into kind of where we’re going with this next concept. Is your site easy to navigate, are you making that address easy for me to find? If I’m driving in I don’t want to have to hunt for your office location. Same with your phone number. If I’m running late, or if I just need to book an appointment for the very first time, I’m not looking to have to hunt through your site. I’m not looking at your website just because. I’m not there just because I’m just trying to pass time, trying to take a quiz on BuzzFeed or something like that. I need to find something that’s going to help me take action.

Is your phone number on every single page? Is your office address on every single page? If you have several offices, what are you doing to help people find that information very quickly? With some practices, in the footer section of the site we’ll list out all the addresses. We’ll make the location page very easy to find, something like that to help people find what they need very quickly. Then we’ll talk about this much more in just a minute, but the whole concept of, can I book an appointment? Can I go ahead and take this action, get what I need done? Again, before we move on, this concept of clearly labeling things, making things easy to navigate.

Let’s again take this back a step and think about what it’s like in person, in the real world again. I just recently had to see a dermatologist for the first time. I was able to find the address very easily, able to book my appointment very easily. The online aspect of it was actually pretty easy, but when I got there, the building where the dermatologist office was located, it was on the third floor of this office building. There was a sign but it wasn’t really clearly labeled on the outside. I found the right building, got inside, had to hunt down the huge directory of offices and businesses that were located there, found the right floor. The dermatologist office wasn’t close to the elevator or close to the stairs, so I kind of had to go hunting through.

There were a lot of areas where they actually did better online than they did in real life, so to speak. This concept of “easy to navigate,” of clearly labeling, this is something that needs to take place both online and off. How can you take this concept, and get used to this idea of, “How can I make information as easy as possible?” When you talk about patient satisfaction rates, that kind of stuff, these are the little things that are going to make a big difference. We’ve done a lot of talks with practices, and a lot of different spaces, written a lot of different articles about the whole concept of reputation management. How can you keep patients leaving positive reviews? How can you help them say positive things?

You’d be surprised at how many patients complain about stuff that has nothing to do with the doctor’s ability. It’s not that the surgery was done wrong, or it’s not that this medicine wasn’t as effective as the doctor said it would be, it’s all the little stuff. It’s, “The person at the front desk was rude.” It’s the, “I couldn’t find the office easily,” the, “I had to wait too long.” All of these little things add up and make a really big difference to not only how satisfied your patient is, but also to how well you can represent yourself online. This is your reputation that you’re guarding, and the more that you can make that communication easy for your patients the more effective all that stuff will be.

Slide 10: Explain Your Procedures & Services

We’ve talked about this whole concept of guiding, guiding patients. Now, let’s talk about explaining. How do we explain to your patients what it is that you actually do, your procedures and your services?

Slide 11: Help Patients Learn About Your Specialties

If you’re involved in the medical space, so you actually, you obviously have a lot of complicated terminology that you use just because you’re–again, we default to ortho when we talk about this kind of stuff–just because you’re an orthopedic surgeon doesn’t necessarily mean that everybody knows what that is. What do you actually do, and how can you actually help me? There are a lot of people that help with arthritis. What is it that you do that’s different from somebody else?

At the bare minimum, list out what it is that you do. “I can do this, I’m able to perform a knee replacement. I help people with sports medicine needs,” that kind of stuff. You’d be surprised at how often people don’t know that, how often patients don’t know that, even sometimes how often your own office personnel may not know that kind of stuff. There’s a story that we’ve heard about a practice, that they had just hired on a young physician, and he was very concerned about getting into sports medicine, really helping out his community, all that kind of stuff. But, he never could get patients for that particular field.

As he’s walking out, someone that’s not the right patient for him, but he’s helping out and doing his part for the team, he hears somebody at the front desk explaining on the phone. “No, no, we don’t do sports medicine, we do orthopedics.” That launches into a long discussion about, “No, we do both, it’s okay.” That internal communication wasn’t working, so there was no way external communication was going to work properly. It’s a problem, it’s the same kind of thing when we talk about sort of online and offline, just how well your signage is working.

Are you communicating internally well, and then are you communicating to your patients well? Getting that information on your site, clearly describing what it is that you do. We’ve looked at a past webinar about how just that process of clearly describing what it is that you do can help with search engines understanding your site better, with search engines sending the right patients to your website. This is something that has positive effects on through, all down the line. The better that you can be at being clear to your patients, and being clear online, again, the more positive impact that it’s going to have.

Slide 12: Answer Common Patient Questions

Answering patient questions. Think about if you’ve ever had a procedure done, or you have your own health concerns, or certainly some of the patients that you’ve talked to, they don’t usually have questions right away. Some of them do, but there will be some people that will definitely have questions at two in the morning. Your office may not be open at that time. What is it that they’re going to be able to do to figure out what they should be doing, for either a pre or post-op instruction, or if they just have a frequently asked question? The first thing that they’re probably going to do is jump to something like WebMD, they’re going to jump on Google, they’re going to jump on these different things to just figure out, “If I have seepage from this bandage, is that a good thing or is that a bad thing? Does that mean I’m dying, or does it just mean hey, this is a normal healthy reaction to this?”

These kinds of questions are going to come up over and over again. Your phones aren’t always on. They’re not always ready to receive patient questions. Even if you’re just a high volume practice and you just can’t answer the phone when they need to get in touch with you right away. By putting some of that information online you’re going to be able to help reassure patients, you’re going to help be able to calm them down some.

Our CEO of our company, he talks about having an experience like that. He’s very well-versed in the field of medicine, understands what kinds of occurrences happen after this particular surgery that he had. Still, he was very concerned. He had to call his physician, and come to find out, “Yes, it’s fine. No, you’re not dying. There’s nothing going on abnormal like that.” Help people out, put that information online. Make it easy for them. Again, this concept of just making it easy is going to be critical, over and over.

Slide 13: Enable Patients to Take Next Steps

We’ve looked at how to guide your patients. We’ve talked about explaining what it is that you do. This final step is where you can really help people see action, really help them be able to do something about whatever it is that they’re going through, is this concept of enabling patients. There’s a lot of phrases. This is a very popular buzzword right now, this whole concept of enabling the patient. This is something where–this is where medicine is going. This is what we need to do to help patients be able to be more proactive about this kind of stuff.

Slide 14: Appointment Scheduling

Again, patients are on your website for a reason. They’re not just browsing, they’re not just having fun, they’re not just checking to see the score on a game or something like that. They are there because they have a need. Either that person has a need, or someone they know, maybe a family member has a need, and they need help with this kind of thing. What can you do? People are looking for–one of the things that they’re looking for clearly is how to schedule their appointment.

If at all possible, if you can make it happen to where they can go ahead and book their appointment online, and have that process complete while they’re there on the website, that’s going to be a huge win. It’s going to be a huge win for the patient, and for you. We are forgetful people, and unless it’s an emergency–and they’re probably not going to be looking to book an appointment if it’s an emergency. It’s far too often that we’re going to think about the fact that we should schedule an appointment with our doctor, and then not follow through.

We got busy, somebody asked us a question–whatever that thing is. There are so many reasons that your patients are distracted. There’s so many things that are vying for their attention at the same time. Make it easy for them, increase those chances that your patient will actually show up. Help them make that process easy, book the appointment.

Even if they can’t completely book the appointment, make it possible for them to request one. At least get the ball rolling. Again, that 2:00 AM, that 3:00 AM patient that’s looking for a solution, they’re going to need to talk to a doctor at some point. They’re going to need to talk to somebody to help them out. Make it as easy as possible for them. Even if they can’t go ahead and finalize the process, at least put it in the hands of your practice. Put yourself back into control more wherever you can, and then follow up with that patient, help that patient out by actually following through with that process.

Slide 15: Contact Forms

Contact forms, these are something that are very easy, and people already expect to be able to find this kind of exchange online. My one caveat on this is please make sure that your contacts forms are secure. Talk to your web provider, talk to whoever it is that works on your website. Make sure that they’re handling that so that you don’t have to worry about any kind of potential information getting out in a way that it shouldn’t.

People expect to be able to quickly and easily get in contact with you. Again, that whole idea of why we looked at mobile usage is because people need to be able to get in contact with you, they need to be able to find out about you in a way that’s comfortable for them. If you want to enable them further, if you want to help make this easier for them, help improve those satisfaction rates, help actually get more appointments booked, go through this process. Make sure that you have a contact form, make sure that people can request appointments online.

Slide 16: Intake Forms

Intake forms–going back again to the dermatology appointment I had not that long ago. I was able to fill out everything online before I had to come into the practice. That may work for you; it may not. You may just have to make downloadable PDFs so that they can print that information out, and then write all the information in themselves. Whatever it is that you can do to allow patients to actually have all the information on hand.

You think about, if somebody comes into your office, do they really have all of their medical history with them? Are they ready to go and look up, “When was that last procedure done? When was the last time you saw this kind of physician?” They may not remember that stuff while they’re sitting in your lobby, but if they’re at home they have more time to actually go through that information, look at their own records, not feel that, again, that anxiety. You can help reduce that, help improve the patient experience overall.

The big goal here is that you may be able to really help reduce their waiting time in the lobby. I know there’s a lot of factors that go into that, but this is one where you can really help out.

Slide 17: Take Advantage of Your Website

Again, we talked a lot about how you’re already doing these things. You’re already helping your patients when they get there, to guide them, to explain to them, to enable them. You already know how to do these things in person. Is your website working as hard as you are? Are you using your online tools to be able to do everything that you can? As it says here on the slide, are you communicating, are you connecting, are you really getting as much out of it as you can? I really hope that you are, and if nothing else that this presentation can help you just have a checklist that you can go back through your site. “Do we have a contact form? Do we have an appointment request? Do we have it to where people can fill out the forms they need before they get here?”

Are you clearly explaining what it is that you do to your patients? Can they understand that based on what you’ve presented there? These are a lot of little things, and this isn’t necessarily that you need to have a complete makeover for your website. In some cases you may need to, but in a lot of cases it’s more about just having a very critical eye, making sure that you’re paying attention, and that you’re getting everything consistently updated. Make sure that you’re going back and revisiting this information on a regular basis. Maybe every couple of months, just put it in your calendar and go back and review this information. Make sure that you’re enabling patients in every way that you can. If you need help with that, that’s something that we can help with. There’s a lot of people that you can turn to, I’m sure even in your own practice, that can help you keep up with that kind of information.

Slide 18: Questions?

That’s all for today. If you have any questions, or any thoughts on how to be able to improve this kind of stuff for your own practice, please feel free to contact us. We’re at Info@P3Inbound.com. We have all our contact information, as well as our phone number on our website at P3PracticeMarketing.com. Again, this whole concept of, “Hey, how do we put the practice back in control?” Extending that idea, “How can we put the patient back in control by enabling them more, helping them out, making this easier on them?” Thank you so much for your time today, and have a great week.