Best Practices for Health System Services Content

BEST PRACTICES FOR

There are more than 5,600 registered hospitals in the U.S., according to the American Hospital Association. Many of those hospitals have websites, but that doesn’t mean they’re all following health content best practices – especially when it comes to their Services sections.

Every company with a website should be making continuous improvements to its content, and health systems are no exception. More and more patients are looking online for convenient, useful information that’s right at their fingertips. They’re looking for registration forms, location information and general services information. They’re looking for content that tells them what to expect before a test or treatment procedure. Are you providing it? Better yet, are you providing it in the right way?

Below are some of the health content best practices for Services pages that all health systems should follow:

Provide enough content on each page.

Some websites simply don’t have enough text. Not only is text important for Google and other search engines to crawl, it’s also important for the reader to get all of the benefits that informative content offers. Make sure all pages (including Services pages) have enough copy on them (ideally a minimum of 250 words.) Low on text? Use it as an opportunity to identify types of information that are most helpful to your audience and add it to pages that are low on word count.

Create a Service page architecture that’s patient-centric and easy to navigate.

Are your Services pages all about you? They shouldn’t be. Make sure there’s a healthy mix of hospital information and educational information. For example: if your cardiology services page only talks about hospital awards and physician experience, how helpful is it to patients? It might reassure them of your expertise, but it won’t reassure them about their pain points – being nervous for an upcoming procedure, not knowing what to expect, etc. Give them that information – provide details about the procedures, recovery time, medications, pain, and anything else they can expect. Create a variety of pages on diseases, diagnostics and testing, and treatment and procedures centered on the patient.

Also, make sure the critical information is easy to find. One way to do this is to provide a “Fast Fact” widget, like the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center (UPMC) does, on the side of the page. Include important information for each Service line, so patients don’t have to dig for it.

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Include visuals on every page.

Plain text only speaks to a select group of users (those who can easily understand and retain written text.) Compared to words, visual content, including photographs, illustrations and icons, are easier for our brains to process. Service pages should therefore incorporate some type of visual, whether it be images, videos, infographics, etc. Bonus: users spend 100 percent more time on pages with videos on them.

Cut out the medical jargon.

About 90 million Americans – or 2 out of 5 – don’t understand most health material, so it’s important to keep language simple and straight-forward, even for everyday conditions. For example, instead of saying hypertension, say high blood pressure. The everyday person will be better able to understand and retain simple language.

Spotlight your physicians.

Physician pages on hospital websites tend to be bare and lack warmth and personality. The patient/doctor relationship is one that’s vital to patient satisfaction and is initiated with research about the physician prior to the first appointment. Each physician should have a page that can be used a traffic source for internal content, external review sites, paid search campaigns, local listings, social media sources, and online video channels.

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Have a call-to-action within the text on every Services page.

Should your call to action be the same on every page? Not necessarily. But there should always be some type of call-to-action, whether it’s to learn more, sign up for a newsletter, contact us, book an appointment, or something else. Depending on what the page is about, it should have a call-to-action to guide the reader through the buyer’s journey. An educational, research-heavy page should direct the patient to learn more, but an end-stage page should direct the patient to book an appointment.

Here’s a call-to-action idea for health systems with multiple locations: On each Services overview page, have the option (and provide a CTA) to search for a hospital location nearby that offers that particular service. This makes it easy for patients to know exactly where to go, especially if some locations offer services that others don’t.

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Whether your hospital Services content needs little tweaks or a huge overhaul, it’s important to incorporate as many health content best practices as you can. The better your content, the happier your audience will be – and the better the chances they’ll choose you for their healthcare needs.

For more insights about improving your healthcare content, browse some of our previous posts:

Haley Hite

About Haley Hite

Haley Hite is Sr. Manager of Content Marketing at Fathom, where she leads the content marketing initiatives, training and best practices for the company. While at Fathom, she has worked with clients in a variety of industries to create, implement and measure documented content strategies based on sound research and data. Outside of work, Haley loves traveling to tropical locations, reading, cheering on her alma mater Bowling Green State University, going to Cedar Point, and hanging out with her husband. Follow Haley on Twitter: @HaleyHite11.

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