2014 was an exciting year for healthcare. How will the world events that shook up health care shake up your online presence?
More Americans have health insurance than ever before.
Many of these people have no primary health care provider. They’ve been doing without health care or relying on the emergency room or a free clinic up till now, so they have no family doctor, dentist, or optician.
Some consumers are heading for a retail clinic at their local Walmart or Target, but some are ready for the kind of traditional health care they grew up with. They will be looking for health care providers, and they will look online. Do you want to have them look for you at a review site, or would you like to tell your story at your own website?
A website that communicates the stature of your practice and lets patients know what it’s like to be served by your practice will help you grow or maintain your practice size, and appeal to the kind of patient you prefer to work with.
Meaningful use requirements kicked in.
For years, health care facilities have been working toward “meaningful use” of electronic health records. This includes increased patient engagement: making it easier for patients to access their own records as well as other kinds of healthcare information. Now the requirements are in place. Do you have an electronic portal for your patients? If so, is it, as HealthIT.gov puts it, “engaging and user-friendly”? Stage 2 meaningful use requirements include the following, all of which can be made available at your website:
- Clinical summaries
- Patient-specific education resources
- Secure electronic messaging
- Timely access to health information
- Reminders for preventive and follow-up care
Digital health got real.
Big data, genetic research, telemedicine, health wearables, the Internet of Things — all of these became practical, common parts of the healthcare landscape. Depending on your practice and your specialties, different aspects of this movement will be useful to you now, and more of them will probably be coming into your work in the future.
If your office is making use of these innovations but your website doesn’t reflect or embrace that, it’s time for an update. Let patients sign up for appointment confirmation by text, for a Fitbit support group with online monitoring and forums, or for a virtual doctor visit or a Google Hangout with other patients to share experiences and get answers from a nurse practitioner. Provide video and podcast patient education opportunities or an individual dashboard to monitor good health habits.
This sort of thing used to be expensive, requiring hours of custom development, but technological changes have made them practical for small practices, too.