There is a great deal of research revealing that people searching for health related information will instinctively turn to the internet to find answers. One Europe-wide survey found that six in ten people go online to seek health information and that 90 per cent stated that the internet helped them improve their knowledge of health related topics.
Without a doubt we live in an age where, without giving it a second thought, we turn to the internet to quench our thirst for information and to source goods and services. It stands to reason then that if such a high proportion of people are using the internet to seek out health related resources, would they not by the same token hand over to their favourite search engine when looking for a new GP practice?
Whether they've recently moved to a new area or are switching practices for some other reason, people will naturally look online to see what there is to offer. So if your practice does not have a website, you are potentially missing out on a highly valuable opportunity to attract new patients.
What's more, patients appreciate the simplicity and convenience of managing their health care needs online. As we discussed in a previous post about the advantages to both practices and patients of making everyday patient tasks available online, today's consumer expects to be given the opportunity to transact online: it's a way of life we have become accustomed to.
There are numerous benefits to the GP practice of having a website:
Dealing with patient enquiries is a time consuming business. Whether you are answering questions concerning surgery opening hours or you have a need to inform patients of something new like a recently added clinic; instead of fielding telephone calls or preparing postal mailings, all you need do is take a few moments to update your website.
Once your patients are aware that there is a website, they will naturally gravitate towards it whenever they need information instead of telephoning or visiting in person. Anything that saves practice staff time and frees up resources has got to be a major advantage.
As revealed by the UK Digital Health Report, "As well as health searches being on the rise, 58 per cent of people now actively use technology to manage their health and wellbeing on a daily basis."
As we discussed earlier, today's consumer naturally goes online whenever they need something. Whether it's finding answers to common questions at their fingertips; registering as a new patient or being able to book an appointment or order a repeat prescription whenever it suits them, patients will truly appreciate the fact their GP surgery has made all of this possible. Convenience and reduced waiting times make for happy patients. You can learn more about integrating Patient Online Services with a practice website here.
A well-designed GP surgery website will allow you to showcase your areas of expertise and build trust. It will demonstrate that your practice is operating in the modern age and working to meet today's patient demands. A GP website can be used to report news updates too, so if your team is regularly involved in fundraising and community events, you'll be able to share their efforts with a far wider audience and at the same time bolster your reputation as a community focused practice.
Furthermore, with a platform that encourages patient feedback and interaction, you will be showing patients that you genuinely value their opinions and suggestions.
Gets you Found
Your GP practice will no doubt be listed on various directories and should show up in Google's Local Pack whenever anyone searches for a GP practice in your area. The trouble with online directories is that they are rarely updated, which means information such as opening hours and contact details can go out of date very quickly. With your own website you will easily be able to update this sort of information as soon as it changes.
Going back to the Google Local Pack, this is an incredibly important delivery vehicle for contact information and very widely used by internet searchers. The Local Pack provides a list of results right at the top of the first page. Since last year, only the top three ranking businesses or service providers in any particular area feature in the Local Pack, although it is possible for users to click 'more places' to reveal further results. It is obviously more advantageous though to appear in the top-three list, however this is unlikely to happen unless the business or service provider has a website connected to its listing.
Acts as a Health Care Resource
We opened this post with a discussion about how six in ten Europeans choose to seek health information online. Imagine if your GP practice became known by your patients and perhaps even a wider audience as a useful health care resource, what that could do for your reputation? Furthermore, how it would boost your self-care resources, another tried and tested means of reducing practice staff pressure.
Worryingly, according to researchers at the Archives of Disease in Childhood, 60 per cent of information available online is inaccurate. Their report stated that searching for information on UK websites on five common issues, including autism and breastfeeding, uncovered that just 200 out of 500 sites provided correct information. If you are concerned that your patients are frightening themselves or their families unnecessarily with false information – perhaps your GPs have witnessed it first-hand with patients arriving for appointments armed with their own (incorrect) self-diagnosis courtesy of 'Dr Google' – then via your own website you could guide them to sources of information that you know are trustworthy.
Effective for Patient Signposting
GP practices are increasingly seeking out new ways of assisting their patients in choosing the right service. There is no easier and time-effective way to do this than via a GP practice website. Patient signposting is something we will cover in more detail in a dedicated post.
It is clear to see why a GP practice NEEDS a website: there are so many benefits for both practice and patients.
If you would like to discover how a GP surgery website could make all the difference to your practice, why not have a chat with the experts at Tree View Designs? With in-depth experience working right at the core of the NHS alongside medical practitioners, practice managers and patients, you'll benefit from exceptional expertise.