The patient experience of 2018 is defined by much more than the efficiency of the intake process and the communication skills of your physicians. Nowadays, medical providers need to worry about issues that were not even on their radar screens a few years ago – such as the findability and user experience of their sites.

A recent announcement by Google illustrates this reality. On January 17, Google announced the Speed Update algorithm change. Starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.

Intuitively, a medical provider should care about the page speed of its content via mobile searches. More and more searches for healthcare are being done on mobile devices. As noted by Local Solutions, more than half of all smartphone owners used their phones to look up a medical condition in 2016. Two out of three needing immediate treatment (at an urgent care facility or emergency room) check their devices to find the locations closest to them.

People using mobile devices aren’t going to have much patience for a site that loads slowly, especially if they need urgent care. In addition, the Speed Update means that if your site is a slow loader, it will rank behind sites that load more quickly.

Per Google,

The “Speed Update,” as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.

Now here’s the problem: how do you know if you have “great, relevant content,” and how do you know if your page delivers the slowest experience?

Fortunately, on its blog, Google provided guidance for you to test the speed of your site on mobile devices, such as these tools (and I use Google’s description here):

  • Chrome User Experience Report, a public dataset of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web, as experienced by Chrome users under real-world conditions.
  • Lighthouse, an automated tool and a part of Chrome Developer Tools for auditing the quality (performance, accessibility, and more) of web pages.
  • PageSpeed Insights, a tool that indicates how well a page performs on the Chrome UX Report and suggests performance optimizations.

As for creating great, relevant content – you’re in luck. We blogged about that topic a few months ago. Check out “How Content Builds Your Healthcare Foundation” for more insight. Don’t wait until July to check the health of your mobile page load times and quality of your content. If your mobile content loads slowly, you’re providing a poor patient experience. The remedy is to take action now. Contact SIM Partners for help. We provide technology, consulting, and business intelligence to help you attract and retain patients.