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    Improve your practice: Medical practice websites

    Creating and implementing a website for your practice can be a valuable service for your patients and staff.

    Most medical practices that are thriving nowadays have learned the nuances of attracting patients and keeping those in their practices content with the services they provide.

    Practice websites are a valuable tool to attract new parents to your practice, and they can offer a wide variety of indispensable information that can reduce your staff’s workload. Let’s explore ways to improve your practice website and integrate important features that will elevate your practice to Peds v2.0 status.

    Basics

    Everyone knows that building and maintaining a practice website is relatively easy to do. One can employ a local website firm, negotiate a price, and decide on the features to include. Alternatively, creative individuals, with little effort, can build their own robust site, including the many bells and whistles I’ll detail shortly. Gone are the days when one had to learn HTML coding or master a complicated program such as Adobe’s Dreamweaver to become proficient at website design.

    More: Disruptive technology and pediatric practice

    Today, web creation involves using software called web content management systems (WCMS), including WordPress or Joonla!, to accomplish wonders. It is not hard to do and can be a fun hobby for one of the practice partners. Best of all, if the pediatrician webmaster ever gets bored, the chore can be handed off to another physician in the practice or to a website firm for maintenance and upgrades.

    No matter which path you choose, the basics of getting a website up and running involve simply obtaining a website address as well as a hosting service, in addition to a website developer. In general, pricing depends on the amount of traffic anticipated, the number of features supported, and the frequency of changes. There are a number of services that specialize in medical website creation such as Officite, MedToWeb, and iHealthSpot. These no doubt have more experience in catering to the unique needs of a medical office, such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance, but they may be more expensive than neighborhood website developers.

    Level 1 websites

    Starter websites identify the location of your practice and provide necessary information such as office hours and phone and fax numbers, and introduce prospective patients to the staff. They list insurance companies your practice accepts, as well as office policies. To attract patients to the practice, your site must include photos of lots of “shiny happy people” (apologies to rock band REM)—happy parents, happy children, happy staff. This means motivating your grumpy Eeyore-like partner (most practices have at least one) to break with tradition and smile!

    Be sure to list all the practice partners as well as associate providers, along with their education and areas of interests and hobbies. Kidding aside, exclude potentially controversial hobbies such as hunting and taxonomy (fishing is OK, as an acceptable euphemism). Sporting hobbies including skiing, tennis, and golf are usually popular and patient-attracting hobbies. The purpose of all this is to humanize the staff and make anyone who views your site want to join your practice. (If you happen to employ zombie-like, “dehumanized” medical providers—a consequence of Medical Documentation Stress Disorder (see Peds v2.0, Contemporary Pediatrics, July 2016—don’t include them in the listing of staff, unless, of course, you can get them to smile!

    For most practices, basic websites are often sufficient, but there is much more that you can do with your website rather than utilizing it as an elaborate Yellow Pages advertisement.

    Next: Level 2 websites

    Andrew J Schuman, MD, FAAP
    Dr Schuman, section editor for Peds v2.0, is clinical assistant professor of Pediatrics, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, ...

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