A website is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, for chiropractors striving for the best practice possible. No chiropractic practice, large or small, should ignore the many benefits that come from having its own, professional website. So, what should practices consider when launching them online or considering an overhaul?
There are two types of websites to choose from: custom and prefabricated. Custom interactive websites will prove to be far more effective, look more professional, and have longer-lasting value than the cheaper prefabricated versions. Every practice is different, so a design company should take the time to understand what the practice has to offer and convey that in their site.
Effective websites take into account common practice management tasks, and integrate them with online tools that not only create a marketing presence but, also, empower the practice in its daily operations. Specific tools include keeping in touch with patients through e-mail newsletters, greeting cards and special promotions.
A few companies that specialize in chiropractic websites compile newsletters that they prepare and deliver automatically on behalf of a doctor to his or her patient database. Such newsletters, which can be updated on a regular basis on the website and automatically e-mailed to patients, are extremely helpful in keeping in touch with patients that do not come in as often. Additionally, patients who subscribe may forward them to others, which could serve as a form of referrals.
Another useful feature is the ability to easily send out pre-scheduled e-mail cards for birthdays, appointments, various holidays, etc. Such e-cards, with fun, professional designs, provide another great opportunity to keep in touch with patients and improve patient relations, while minimizing the cost of traditional cards and postage, not to mention saving time.
Practices should also consider providing potential patients with an incentive to visit the office by having printable promotions or coupons on their websites, where allowable by law. After all, the hardest part is getting the patient to come in for the first time.
Websites can also give patients the ability to schedule appointments, access patient forms and even verify insurance. This way, rather than request patients to come in fifteen to twenty minutes early, practices can post their forms online and request that patients go online to print and complete them before coming in.
The opportunities for patient education online are almost limitless; a doctor can provide informational resources on preventative care and exercises, explanatory diagrams and illustrations, and descriptions of the unique services of their practice. A website can also assist the practice in selling different products and supplements to anyone, anywhere and any time—not just to the existing patient base of the practice. Doctors should not limit their opportunities—current studies show the public is looking for health information, by the millions. Having an online presence now is crucial, not only in reaching new patients but also retaining existing ones. By not being online, a doctor misses out on 100 percent of the Internet-derived business he or she could see.
The key to bringing in new patients who are searching online for health providers and information lies in search engine placement. Who would want a website if no one can find it? In selecting your website company, be sure that the commissioned company can create a search engine and marketing campaign aimed at excellent placement with search engines and directories, and use both innovative and standard Search Engine Optimization techniques. More traffic means more patients, a better bottom line and a dramatic return on investment. Through a website, they can get their questions answered in a non-threatening, non-confrontational way. A website can even help a practice maximize the benefits of spreading the message of chiropractic. This new technology is not only limitless, but also much more affordable than all previous means of publicity utilized by doctors in the past. A practice armed with these new tools will be much more efficient, effective and professional in gaining new patients and servicing them 24/7.
Whether you have a current web site that isn’t high enough quality, or if you have no website to speak of, the next decision is who should you turn to for the creation of your professional website? In terms of working with a freelancer versus an established company, as a general rule, it is usually best to work with a company that will provide the necessary customer service and support. Even if your “nephew Jimmy” or the “nice kid down the street” can build you a professional website to begin with—and that’s a big “if”—will they be around when you need to update your website?
It helps to find a company who can identify with the practice and even specializes in chiropractic websites. A company or freelancer that does not specialize in chiropractic fields will require a significant amount of time from the doctor in developing the content and educational materials for the website. While several design companies specialize in chiropractic websites, not all are alike in the quality of their designs and services. There is probably no need to dump $10,000 into a doctor of chiropractic website, but an investment of over $1,000 should be expected. A chiropractor can no longer maintain the mindset that “the computer is just for my kids.” A practice without a professional website will be an immediate turnoff for more and more potential patients each and every day.
Yamia Benhaim is the founder of ChiroMatrix.com, a design firm specializing in custom website design and Internet marketing for the chiropractic community. She can be contacted at 800-398-3933 or through the website www.chiromatrix.com.