Healthcare is an extremely personal market—after all, few things are more personal than your health and wellness. Many people take this so far that they will trust the amateur advice of a friend or family member before the advice of their healthcare providers. Despite this reality, many healthcare websites come across as distant, impersonal, and even institutional at times.
Embracing the Human Aspect
In the not-too-distant past, individuals looked to their parents, friends, and colleagues to find their healthcare providers. Word-of-mouth is still extremely relevant for driving new patients to healthcare organizations, but the advent of the digital age has changed the landscape.
Despite the fact that healthcare organizations are gaining new patients from their digital presence, many of the same principles carry over from the past when patients found their healthcare providers by talking to friends and family. The important takeaway is that it pays off to appear human in the less-than-human digital environment.
When done right, being personal can improve website and brand perception, resulting in higher conversion rates, greater engagement, and increased search traffic. Despite the obvious benefits, many organizations are scared to death of the idea of adding a personality to their online presence.
It’s important to clarify here—being more personable does not entail creating a cartoon-like personality for your brand (unless that’s what you’re going for). It does involve taking a people-first approach that doesn’t entirely ignore emotion.
For healthcare organizations, it’s especially important to be empathetic in order to gain consumer trust. According to authoritative research, empathy in the context of clinical care can lead to positive patient outcomes, including greater patient satisfaction and compliance, lower rates of malpractice litigation, lower cost of medical care, and lower rate of medical errors. (Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19385420)
Making Your Website More Personal
There are many ways to make your content and webpages much more personal. Read our list below for tips on increasing your website’s “human” factor.
1. Add Images, and more specifically, add faces: It’s well studied in psychology that we’re wired to recognize faces. Beyond this, we instantly recognize and are affected by others’ emotions. Our own emotions often reflect those of the faces we see around us, which, in turn, influences our behavior.
Especially for healthcare service lines, it’s important to use pictures that convey care and empathy. Using non stock, self-procured imagery can take your website even further.
2. Emphasize people whenever possible: Does your blog have profiles and backgrounds for your authors? Does it have any feature stories or backgrounds of your employees? Do your service line pages should show patient stories? Are there any testimonials on your website? Long story short, there are ways to feature the “people” side of things on almost any Web page.
Ideally, adding a more human element to your website can help improve transparency, trust, engagement, and even conversion rate.
3. Don’t just tell, empathize and relate: One of the first things aspiring authors are taught is to show, and not to tell. While this isn’t necessarily a requirement of an informational website, it can be useful when it comes to relating to your audience.
Show your reader why the information on your webpage is relevant. Consider telling a story – perhaps a patient story. Show that you know the daily issues patients are going through. Relate to a recent cancer survivor, or perhaps a caregiver. Small featurettes on an information specific page can provide useful perspective, and also serve to break up the information into easier to read sections.