I was recently reading a report about the immeasurable value that artificial intelligence will create for healthcare systems across all aspects of patient care. Without question, AI is adding value now and will do so even more in the future. But it’s important that healthcare providers pave the way for better service by strengthening their foundation of patient engagement and access. That foundation begins with the provider website.

A healthcare system’s website remains the center of its ecosystem for patient engagement and access – an ecosystem that includes physician pages, social media sites, apps, ratings/review sites, patient portals, and other online destinations where patients find you and receive care. Did you know that:

  • 83 percent of patients visit your website before booking an appointment?
  • 89 percent of patients use Google when looking for healthcare?
  • 44 percent of patients who find healthcare providers on mobile devices schedule appointments?

Those statistics matter a lot. They mean:

  • Patients are using search engines (especially Google) as their starting point to seek care.
  • The road to care leads to your website.
  • Online access is increasingly mobile.

Setting a foundation for care means that healthcare providers need to provide the right data, content, and tools to create access on their website.

  • Accurate data about your physicians and locations, such as name, address, and phone data, makes your website findable. Sharing accurate data with Google and other amplifiers of data makes your website very findable. Action step: make sure you’re managing your physician and location data to keep it accurate and distributed across the digital world, especially with publishers such as Google that ensure your healthcare system is findable.
  • Deep content, such as details about your physicians’ areas of specialty, the services you provide, and branded editorial information such as a blog, directs more targeted and descriptive searches reach your website (“I’m looking for pediatric care” or “I’m looking for information on how to treat a sore upper back”). Action step: do a content audit to ensure your website contains search-optimized content that supports your mission.
  • Tools such as find-a-doctor directories and online scheduling widgets accelerate the path from search to onboarding. Find-a-doctor directories with rapid search and filtering tools ensure that patients find the right provider match, which is where onboarding begins. Then scheduling widgets get the patient onboard. Action step: do a user test of your own provider directory. How hard or easy is to find your physicians? Is their information, such as insurance carriers covered, complete?

Finally, optimizing your website for mobile search completes the process of building the right foundation. As we have blogged on our own site, Google continues to reward mobile-optimized sites in search results and punish sites that are not mobile friendly.

Now, take a deep breath. Realize that you have to keep investing in content, data, and tools to treat your website like the digital front door to care that it needs to be – and you need to invest in tools like AI, too. I suggest you follow the 70/20/10 rule, which states that you invest:

  • 70 percent on core business.
  • 20 percent on core business-related projects.
  • 10 percent on projects unrelated to core business.

You build your foundation with that 70 percent – and you create patient access and engagement with that core investment. AI will work its way into the mainstream of your core business as you invest more into it. Meanwhile, keep your foundation strong.

If you want to talk more about creating better care and engagement, contact us anytime. SIM Partners provides the technology, business intelligence, and consulting to manage your digital operations.

In addition, I’m going to be discussing this topic in more detail at the annual Health Internet Conference (HCIC) in Austin.  If you are at HCIC, please come see me on Tuesday, October 24 at 3:30 PM as I co-present with my client, Moira Green, Moira Green, the Web project manager at Bellin Health. We’ll discuss turning your hospital website into an effective digital front door that acts as a foundation for engagement and care. Moira will share her experience with managing a hospital website and how that experience has improved the patient experience. Click here to view the session.

I hope to see you there.