A Q&A About the Health of Healthcare Websites

The healthcare industry has experienced more than one can imagine in the last couple of years—and still is. Despite progress in fighting COVID-19, the threat behind this pandemic is still present and real, on top of the everyday tasks of tending to the medical needs of patients for other health concerns. The marketing of a healthcare facility can easily fall under the radar—but it should not. That’s because this same facility may be on the radar of patients whose first impressions will likely be what they find online.

Websites for healthcare facilities

If you are a healthcare professional, it is understandable that the marketing and promotion of your facility is not top-of-mind, particularly in today’s times. And the website that represents your healthcare facility is the calling card of today. How you are perceived by current and potential patients, however, is important. Learn some basic steps to keep your web presence up-to-date and (if we may say) healthy. Here are some questions to consider:

Is your healthcare facility’s website strong?

Make sure that your website is up-to-speed, user-friendly, and that all relevant information (e.g., address, phone number, specialties) is easily visible to anyone who visits your page. Also, make sure that any changes to this information is updated and consistent across anywhere your facility appears online. Additionally, if it is on any social media platforms, see to it that these pages are curated regularly and stay fresh. Your facility’s social media is more important than you think, as these platforms are frequently populated with opinions—both positive and negative—from patients. This segues into…

What kind of reviews are showing up about your healthcare facility?

As pointed out above, it is important to have a fully functional, attractive and easy-to-navigate website to represent your healthcare center. The caveat to this, however, is that no one will check your page if your facility has received a fair number of negative reviews. Yes, many potential patients will research a facility by checking out online reviews—on social media and Google, among other sites—before anything else.

How are you handling reviews—good or bad?

Any and every review should be addressed. The bad reviews will not go away, and the good ones deserve to be acknowledged. Should a disappointed patient post a negative review about your healthcare facility, reach out to him or her, apologize for whatever may or may not have happened, and offer them the opportunity to deal with the matter privately. Additionally, if a patient is impressed with the service and care they received at your facility, be sure to thank them for that positive feedback. The purpose—and importance—of addressing reviews promptly shows that you are in step with your patients and listening (or reading) to what they have to say (or write).

Is the website for your healthcare facility mobile-first?

Many people go to their mobile devices—smartphones or tablets—before desktop computers to find out information. So, if the website for your facility looks good and works well on a desktop PC or Mac, it is equally (if not more) important for its corresponding mobile site to be as fully functional. And while we are on the topic of functionality…

When was the last time you checked the backlinks of your healthcare facility’s site?

Consider this the “surgical” topic. Tying back to the first question about the strength of your facility’s website, and how it should be user-friendly and pleasing to the eye, make sure that the inner workings of any backlinks are equally strong. You should have a “sweep” conducted to find out if any of the facility’s pages (e.g., home page, “About Us,” “Services”) connect to any other pages that are inactive or bring up the dreaded “404 Page Not Found” message. In short, check to see also if your site may have become subject to what is known as “link rot.” If a prospective patient has this experience, they may well count this against you and not seek your services. Or, they may even go a step further and post a negative review. Keep everything on your website—front-end and back-end—streamlined and connected. Once this has been accomplished, ask two final questions…

Is your healthcare facility’s website HIPAA compliant?

The necessity for a website to be Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant cannot be overstated. (After all, the word “health” is part of its title.) Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, what is known as the Protected Health Information (PHI) of patients is protected by federal law. Contact forms, patient portals, and chat-enabled features are a few examples of how PHI may be collected on a website. Additionally, as listed in The HIPPA Guide, you must take many steps to making your website compliant:

  • Obtain a valid SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate, which creates encryption between a web server and web browser
  • Confirm that your website is hosted with a hosting company that is HIPAA compliant
  • Check that all forms (e.g., contact info) are HIPAA compliant
  • Encrypt data at rest and in transit
  • Set access controls
  • Record and monitor logs
  • Maintain an audit trail
  • Back up all PHI
  • Obtain signed business associate agreements from vendors
  • If you publish testimonials, receive consent from patients
  •  Establish policies to restore and delete data
  •  Include a notice of privacy practices as well as the HIPPA policy on your healthcare facility’s website

And finally, is your healthcare facility’s website ADA compliant?

This is an especially sensitive area that is crucial to implement and maintain. The Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Act of 1990 protects the rights of disabled individuals and prohibits discrimination. The matter of ADA compliance extended to the Internet in 2010 with the passing of the Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards for Accessible Design in 2010. All forms of electronic and information technology have to be enabled to allow online access to people who are handicapped. Industries which fail to maintain ADA compliance run the risk of facing legal trouble. Bottom line: ADA compliance demands that all users—disabled and non-disabled—must have the same website experience.

Yes, there is a lot to take inventory and be aware of when it comes to maintaining a strong and healthy web presence. The EGC Group understands this, as well as the fact that doctors, medical assistants, and administrators frequently work against the clock to take care of their patients. We have extensive experience in healthcare marketing which, combined with top-notch web development services, can take the pressure and concern of this part of marketing off of healthcare professionals.

Give us a call. We will help keep your medical facility’s online presence healthy.