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Increasingly, patients are researching doctors online and
expressing an increased desire to access education and information
about their illness or condition online.
A website is an excellent way to complement your offline
marketing and communications.
These are three important decisions to make in planning your
website. Your website needs a domain name - for example,
http://GreatDoctor.com.au. There are many companies that sell
domain names and many options available. Select a memorable name
that relates to your practice or business name. This will make it
easier for people to find your website.
Your website also needs a web host - this is the individual or
company who you pay to keep the website online. Web hosts offer
different packages (for instance: how many email addresses does
your practice need?) and the choice of web host can affect aspects
such as the speed that your website loads and its security.
Unless you have special IT skills, you will also need a web
designer. As websites can look dated after a few years it is
sensible to schedule upgrades and revisions into your website
planning. These upgrades and revisions will prompt you to review
the existing content and allow you to improve your website over
Regardless of what type of website you have and who creates it,
your website requires content. The content creator needs to know
what tone and impression you wish to convey. This will guide not
just the words on the page but also the layout, choice of images
Minimum website content should include:
You may also wish to include patient registration forms,
practice policies, details about consultation costs and patient
information about the conditions that you treat.
Content creation requires sustained and consistent effort to
develop a detailed and comprehensive website. Setting up practice
is a big task, so be realistic about how much content you are able
to write or oversee when planning your online content.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the art and science of
putting websites at the top of the search engine listings, so that
more people will see and visit your website. Things that can
improve your SEO include:
It is valuable to establish inbound links to your website to
encourage referral traffic and to build your website's SEO. Health
practitioner listing directories are one option - there are a
number of Australian sites that allow health practitioners to
submit their contact details including a website address for
listing. Social media accounts are further options.
You can elect to create a web presence that communicates outward
but does not receive communications inward. This will work for many
practices, and some practitioners prefer that their practice not
receive email communications from prospective or current patients.
Other practitioners and practices find it beneficial to allow
two-way digital communication and use social media to market and
engage with their patients and wider medical community.
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You can encourage prospective patients to communicate directly
with your practice via email by putting a 'Contact Us' page on your
website. This communication model will not work for all
practitioners or practices, but this can have the benefit of
capturing enquiries out of hours and freeing up phone lines at peak
times. If you provide an email address for inbound communications,
it is important that this email address is monitored and that
response times are appropriate for the nature of the communication.
Consider a web-based enquiry form that clearly states when and how
you will respond to a patient or potential patient's enquiry.
Provision of detailed information online can create significant
benefits. This information can lead prospective patients to feel
that they have a 'relationship' with the practitioner before the
initial consult. A potential risk of providing detailed general
information online is that patients may request specific advice to
be provided via email before they make an appointment for a
consultation. Practitioners should take care not to assume a
doctor-patient relationship with a prospective patient via email,
by avoiding providing medical advice or treatment information via
A newsletter subscription module can also be posted on your
website, inviting individuals to sign up for a practice newsletter
Additional electronic communications that your practice can
consider are electronic practice newsletters for patients or
referrers, with a subscription link from your website.