A recent article in The Wall Street Journal discussed how our society is in an age of “organized spontaneity.” Although there are still people that like to plan in advance, many people are embracing technology as a way to be a little more spontaneous in their everyday decisions. Dinner plans, hotel reservations, movie tickets, etc. can all be booked at the last minute thanks to mobile technology and devices, and people are taking advantage of it.
What does this mean for your practice? If people are booking appointments and reservations instantly on their mobile devices, they will come to expect the same type of accessibility from their physicians. If you don’t make it easy for patients to get the information they need and book appointments right where they are, they may get frustrated and move on to another practice that offers those capabilities.
Think about this scenario: Two friends are talking on the phone, and one mentions that her knee has been bothering her, and she should really go to see a doctor about it. As it turns out, her friend knows just the doctor to help with her problem. If that doctor has a website, and a way to book an appointment online, that person could go ahead and book the appointment from her mobile device without even getting off the phone with her friend. This is what our society is moving towards. With mobile devices, we have access to just about everything we need right at our fingertips, so why should healthcare be any different?
Make Mobile a Priority
You might think the scenario above is just a one-off situation, and not the norm for most of your patients. Surely most patients don’t mind looking up your number and calling your office to find out information and book an appointment. However, recent statistics indicate that mobile usage and on-the-spot booking is the new norm.
At Yahoo’s mobile developer conference from this year, Simon Khalaf, Yahoo’s senior vice president for publisher products and former chief of Yahoo-owned analytics company Flurry, gave his annual report on the state of the mobile landscape. In that report, some statistics really stood out in regards to mobile usage by consumers. According to Khalaf, 280 million people worldwide check their phones more than 60 times a day. Furthermore, Americans are spending an average of 4 hours and 11 minutes on their mobile phones every day. That’s more time than the average American spends watching TV!
Khalaf’s statistics indicate that mobile usage is only increasing. If your practice wants to keep up with the times and continue to bring in new patients, it is critical that you focus on mobile availability. If you don’t meet that demand, there is a very good chance that your patients will move on to a practice that does.
Creating an Effective Mobile Presence for the Instant Decision Makers
If potential patients pulled up your practice’s website on their mobile devices, what would they see? Would they be able to find easily find your address, phone number, and hours? What about your specialties and treatment options? Would it be easy for patients to navigate, or would they have to keep zooming in and scrolling around to find the right information? Can they easily book an appointment or contact you for more information? If your site is failing in any of these areas, it’s very possible that those patients will move on to another practice that meets those needs. You need to make sure that your website stands out.
The first thing you need to do is make sure your website is easily viewable on all types of devices, from the largest desktop computers all the way down to the much smaller screens of mobile phones. Your website visitors should have no problem navigating your site on any device, no matter the screen size. This is where a responsive website design is really helpful. Responsive designs adjust to fit any screen size, so your website visitors get an optimal experience no matter what devices they use.
Once you’ve taken care of the mobile aspect of your website, you next need to make sure that you have information available for patients to be able to make a decision as to whether or not your practice is the best fit. Proximity is important, so make sure that patients are able to easily locate your address. Patients also want to be reassured of your expertise, so you should include information about the conditions you treat and the procedures and services offered at your practice. Original content explaining your practice’s specialties can really help to drive the point home. To make it easier for mobile users to read, try to use smaller paragraphs, headings, and list formats whenever possible to make it easier for users to scan the content quickly on mobile devices.
The final, and perhaps most important step, is to make sure that patients are able to book an appointment right from your website. You’ve already taken the time to demonstrate your practice’s expertise; don’t let your patients slip away before they get a chance to book the appointment! Allowing your patients to book the appointment right away increases the chances that those patients will follow through with the appointment. In today’s society, people are busy and always on-the-go. If a patient has to wait until he or she has time to call and book an appointment, it may never end up happening. Those patients may be too busy during your normal business hours to make the call, or they may just forget to call if they aren’t able to do so right away.
To accomplish this, you can add an appointment request form directly to your site, or you can use an appointment booking service like ZocDoc and link to your page from your website. Either way, you need to make that functionality available if you want to keep up with patients’ needs.
Sure, you may still have those patients who prefer to call your office to book an appointment, but there are many more patients that you could miss out on if your practice does not make mobile a priority.