As usual, there are no easy answers here. In a perfect world, yes, all physicians would have a website. In today’s web-saavy society, consumers are going to the internet to find information about their physician. And what easier way to manage the information consumers get than by putting it on the practice’s website?
It’s not a perfect world though, so let’s prioritize what types of physicians need websites. First and foremost, any physician that consumers go directly to, such as a Pediatrician, ObGyn, Family Practice, MedPed, or Internal Medicine. Next, physicians selling elective services like Plastic Surgery, Dermatology, and Opthalmology (LASIK). Both primary care physicians and doctors offering elective procedures will benefit greatly from having a website. Consumers tend to “shop” these types of physicians, so they need a website and it needs to be good! We’ll talk more about content in a bit.
How about specialists? Does a Cardiothoracic Surgeon need a website? Well, not necessarily, but it could help. Typically, patients are referred to a specialist. And, typically, patients take the referral and don’t shop around. However, a well-designed website could offer the patient useful information about the practice, as well as make them more comfortable about the referral. One note of caution here – A poor website could do more harm than good. So, specialists, don’t invest in a website unless it’s going to be a good one.
What about Hospital-based physicians, like Anesthesiologists or Pathologists? Again, rarely would a patient choose their ER Physician or Radiologist, but a well-crafted website couldn’t hurt. Information could be offered on the billing practices, understanding why patients get seperate bills from these physicians, et cetera. One thing for hospital-based providers to keep in mind is that potential clients, such as hospitals or surgery centers, could utilize a website to gather information about the group. For those purposes, it could be invaluable.
So, what should the content be on a physician’s website? It all depends on the specialty, but there are a few items that every site will need. Location, contact information, office hours (if any), billing information, and insurances accepted are always good. What to expect on a visit is also very helpful. Information on the physician’s training, board certifications, and hospital affiliations is useful. Additionally, if the physician has quality or patient satisfaction data that is good, it’s great to list. Patients will find this information on the internet, but won’t necessarily be able to understand all of it. So, making it easy to understand on the physician’s own site is great. Ultimately, every physician’s website should be unique to their practice style and specialty. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for ideas specific to a specialty.
In closing, if a physician has the funds and the interest, a website is a great investment. Take the time and spend the money to have it done right though, or don’t do it at all.