What's Worse Than Having No Practice Website?


Referral patterns are tough to break and probably have not changed. The same doctors and referral sources, even if just word of mouth, are getting you the same attention as before, but patient behavior has changed.

Instead of automatically picking up the phone and scheduling an appointment, patients do their own research on the Internet before deciding to make an appointment. In the old days, there were no other resources to “check out” a new doc.

Patients expect medical practices to have a website. They expect them to be sources of information — not medical information — but a place to learn something about the way you practice and who you are. Patients expect your website to be an extension of you and your practice.

Old, abandoned and outdated websites are not benign. They are a clear statement that you can’t be bothered to engage this new medium and you have no interest in joining this new conversation. It says that you are really not interested in engaging new patients.

(Remember when you were a kid on Halloween? You knew someone was home, but they wouldn’t answer the door? Remember the negative connotations it created? The same thing is true for an old site.)

New patients aren’t going to engage you, either. They’ll click away and land up on someone else’s doorstep.

This is a true story. This erosion is happening to me.

I work as a retina consultant for two different groups. I am not a managing partner, just a consultant. Let me make it also clear that I have no say in their business matters and certainly no say in their marketing ideas. Neither practice understands why I have my own sites. Both still advertise in the phonebook.

The websites of these practices are so old, that our referring doctors are now calling on the phone complaining about the difficulty in sending new patients to us because the websites are a big turnoff. Patients don’t want to come. They fear that the doctors and practices are as poor as their online presence.

The pictures are outdated and the information is incomplete or obsolete. The text is sterile and not well written. The sites reek of “we can’t be bothered!” Both were done on old outdated static website software.

One set of partners just thought the website would be a handy way for patients to download “new patient” forms and they would save on postage. We tell each and every new patient to go to the site to download forms … and then we wonder why we have so many “no shows.”

One website boasts the latest and greatest in technology, but the site hasn’t been updated since 2004 — and it says so at the bottom of the site: “Copyright 1999-2004.”

If your website is old and is killing your patient referrals, then consider having the site redone (if you follow me here or on my own blog, you know I’d never recommend just a “redesign,” but this may be an exception), or, if you don’t want to spend the money, take the website down. Call your hosting company and ask them to just “park” your site.

If you feel it’s time for revamping, find a medical SEO firm to help you, not just a web design firm.