Thoughts on Healthcare Websites

February 13, 2003

As a part of my job, I look around the web at various healthcare websites. Most look nice, but lack in the standards department and look about two years behind most modern sites in other fields. I’ve made some notes about two sites I really like and give two suggestions about how to help visitors to your site.

I’m looking around, and I see the site for Memorial Care in Southern California . It’s a nice simple site in XHTML using tables. Really nice and clean design. The maps are all nicely done and it’s just a nice visit.

One of my other favorites recently debuted their new look. St. Vincent’s in Indiana has always had a nice advanced look. Their new design is a clean design too, those not as advanced as using XHTML. It’s a basic design, and is really easy on the eyes.

One of my suggestions to web designers is, if you’re designing a website for a hospital. Please include the city in the title of the main page. Do you know how many St Joseph’s hospitals there are in the United States? Do a Google search on st joseph hospital and look at all of the separate entities who use the name. Adding that little indicator, would help someone. Imagine an Aunt wanting to see newborn photos from the online nursery. The Aunt’s brother said that her niece said that she was going to St. Vincent Hospital. Was that the one in Billings or Worcester ? This Aunt hasn’t seen her Niece since she was 16, some 17 years ago. She knows she no longer lives where she grew up, but she does live in a near by town. So she hits Google to look for this hospital . After going through the links that could be the site, she finds it. It would have been so much simpler if each site had their location in the title. Then the Aunt could see that it was St. Vincent’s in Cleveland, OH .

My other suggestion is to add the address of your main location, to the main page. It’s just a polite thing to do. Add just an address and if you really want to help out, add your 800 (or 888) to help those out of town visitors who want to contact a patient.

Most people have a fear of hospitals. They relate medical care to being a cold scary place, kinda like computers. While we might have a beautiful facility, with bright happy lights and colorful hallways our websites look like they’re inhuman. Make your website friendly….humanize it. Add photos of your staff, something I’m still working on. Make your site a colorful, fun place. Give the visitors a chance to interact. But most of all build their trust. Potential patients check more and more online to find out about medical services and anything related to their care. If you’re website gets their trust, then they might trust you to their medical care.