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How High are Patient Expectations for Healthcare Websites
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Patients are very pro-active with their healthcare-related research.

Patients are ever more informed as they explore online. Your existing patients also want to engage with you online. Your healthcare website is extremely important.

Of course, digital is complicated in health care. Many organisations struggle with conflicting priorities, and regulations and progress can seem like a daunting task.

That’s why a specialist healthcare website partner can make a massive difference.

Establishing trust the key to building great patient relationships

Pharmaceutical and healthcare websites are the go-to for learning about illnesses and their treatments. Connecting with patients meaningfully requires more than a clinical understanding of their condition. A good healthcare web design must create a personalised and informed experience for the patient and their family or caregiver to establish trust in you and your organisation.

What are patients looking for online?

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Patients are online now more than ever, regardless of their education or income background. It is a trend set to continue. Longer lifespans, as well as the Western lifestyle and diet, correlate with more age-related and chronic illnesses. People are now turning to digital health resources to stay informed, reassure themselves, get treatment information and understand costs. But with the massive amounts of healthcare information (and misinformation) online, it can be difficult to connect with patients.

How do you reach out to new patients who do not know you and start a conversation?
How can you help them understand your treatments and build trust while managing expectations?

The challenges around patients, helpers and gatekeepers

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Pharmaceutical and therapeutic information is typically separated from patients by gatekeeping factors, such as access to informed clinicians and the internet. While clinical recommendations are a major source of information for a patient, in most cases they will also seek out information online where the gatekeeper is usually a search engine.

We are firmly in the age of “Ask Dr Google”. Engaging, well-informed, and beneficial content must be considered during pharmaceutical website design and much of this starts with Search Engine Optimised (SEO) content.

People are no longer plugging keywords into the search bar but are asking specific questions. In response, the search algorithms adapted to present precise answers to these questions first, highlighting key text from the top websites returned. These are often the first ports of call for patients and families who wish to learn more about their condition or treatment options.

Patients are not the only people looking. Family members, especially where illnesses can have familial links, and caregivers are also seeking to understand illnesses and want to play a role in helping a patient.

Younger family members tend to search online on behalf of an older relative. Where over 53% of 75+-year-olds searched online alone for healthcare advice, that rose to 67% when they were assisted. They too are seeking out support solutions, new insights and research, and potential treatment options. Catering to these touchstones in your healthcare internet marketing strategy can help you create personalised journeys for the users.

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Common mistakes in engaging patients

Most mistakes are made simply by failing to approach the website from the patient perspective. Patients come from all walks of life, with different cultural, economic, and educational backgrounds.

The tone in which you engage a patient or concerned family member is crucial. Unfortunately, it can be a point of difficulty for companies used to clinical or scientific writing. Often describing therapeutic solutions comes off as clinical and cold, despite the best intentions to provide improved patient care. Walls of text, however detailed, are similarly off-putting.

While a robust SEO strategy may bring in hits, it is not enough to make readers stick around. Simply listing facts without further engagement or a call to action can let patients slip away for another round with Dr Google.

First impressions are everything and failing to keep an updated website can sow seeds of distrust in the patient’s mind from the outset.

Patients often go online to confirm what their clinicians have told them about their condition, or they may be provided with recommendations and literature from friends, family, and caregivers.

Outdated research insights, incorrect data and statistics, and insufficient knowledge of other treatment methods that may conflict with what the patient already knows can make for a bad first impression.

Patients will also be interested in outcomes, side effects, and treatment costs. Honesty and realistic management of expectations are what patients both want and need. Making information on insurance coverage and likely outcomes easy to find can help allay the worries of patients.

Avoiding pitfalls and helping patients

The patient must come first, from bench to bedside, and all points in between – including your website. Adopting a patient-centric approach means facilitating their needs, appreciating their concerns, and listening to their feedback while offering your expert knowledge in an honest, kind, and compassionate way. Always keep in mind they are not experts and use accessible language throughout your website.

Keep an up-to-date and informed website. Think about questions that somebody recently diagnosed might have for their doctor and try to answer them. The answers to these questions inevitably lead to more questions, creating a logical narrative and structure that, once revealed, can help plot a seamless path for the patient seeking answers and reassurance. Consider specialist healthcare website consultants to assist in storytelling and content creation for your product.

Create an engaging environment where the patient can feel welcome, listened to, and understood. Use compassionate language and storytelling, examples that can connect with the patient on an emotional level. Consider using a professional communications service tailored to healthcare internet marketing or branding in the healthcare industry to help craft your messages and content.

Interactive tools, infographics, and particularly audio-visual explainers go a long way in helping patients understand complex information. Videos can really help in communicating the human side to your therapeutic solution too, as the patient can put a face and a name to the person explaining. As always, ensure the language is accessible and relevant to the patient. Consider bringing on a healthcare design agency specialist to assist with this.

Patients will also be interested in outcomes, side effects and treatment costs. Honesty and realistic management of expectations are what patients both want and need. Making information on insurance coverage and likely outcomes easy to find can help allay the worries of patients.

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Should you look for help in engaging patients?

If starting the conversation with a patient by answering their most common questions in a compassionate and easy-to-understand way comes naturally to your marketing team, that’s fantastic! Continue that conversation by taking them on a personalised journey with useful, up-to-date resources, compassionate language and emotionally engaging narratives when introducing your therapeutic solution. This allows you to build trust and long-lasting relationships with patients, their families and their caregivers.

However, your marketing team’s energy could be better spent doing what they do best – engaging with experts, vendors and clinicians and raising your company profile. By partnering with an agency to create engaging content tailored to the patients’ needs, you are freeing up that valuable marketing input which will in turn point patients back to the company website through clinicians.

The Takeaway.

In every aspect of healthcare, the patient should always come first. The same is true in healthcare web design. Patients, and those closest to them, want to understand their condition as well as investigate treatment options. Put yourself in the patient’s shoes and ask yourself five things:

  • Is this what the patient would want to know?
  • How does this help the patient get to the next step in their journey?
  • Could this concept be simplified/presented in a more accessible way?
  • Is the overall tone clinical or compassionate?
  • What other resources/links can I provide that might help?

The key to great patient engagement is providing the reader with informative and emotionally engaging content. At Arttia Cresative, we can help you craft an easy-to-follow user journey complemented by a personalised experience on your healthcare website, with helpful calls to action interwoven throughout the narrative. We help make your expertise accessible to those who will rely on it most, improving the quality of life for patients, their families, and their caregivers.

Need help creating a healthcare website that reaches patients? Let's talk

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Belinda White | Creative Director

About Belinda White

Website consultant, digital strategist and award-winning designer with over 28 years’ creative industry experience. Creating successful brands, digital and print campaigns for UK and international clients. Creative industry experience includes design for GSK, Nike, BP, Shell, GSK, P&G, Marks & Spencer, Kings College, Master Foods, Co-op, Argos and Sage to name a few. Specialist experience in Life Science and biotech web design, SEO and digital marketing.

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