Practice Website Design and Marketing
Integrating Internet Services
THE NEXT DDS
In an interview
with Wired magazine, CBS president
Leslie Moonvies discussed the network’s increasing emphasis on the Internet in
terms of its content development and television advertising, and overall
viewership. In this regard, CBS’ interests are similar to those of dental
professionals, who also recognize the potential of the World Wide Web in
reaching a broader audience of consumers. In 2010, with roughly 239 million
Internet users in the US
alone (according to a June 2010 report by the ITU)1, savvy business
owners must be mindful of how to harness this resource more effectively.
greater numbers of consumers turning to the Web for not only entertainment but
information regarding their health and well-being, clinicians have recognized
the importance of having or improving their Internet presence as a means of differentiating
services provided, increasing treatment awareness and acceptance, and
attracting new patients to the practice. Referrals are also dramatically
increased by the use of a viable website that can be easily accessed, searched,
a website for the dental practice is not a difficult task, but rather one that
can be conducted as an extension of existing efforts to market the practice
(Table). As such, it is beneficial to have a budget allocated for the practice
website--which can require different expense thresholds depending on the
desired level of functionality, pages of content desired, and compatibility
with the Internet’s various search engines. Throughout the build, it is
imperative for the clinician to collaborate with a professional organization that
has documented experience and success with the Internet. With HIPAA compliance
as an added requirement for dental practice websites, it is thus important that
any service provider understand the safeguards necessary to prevent exposure to
litigation and to ensure privacy.
to selecting a website development service, the clinician should identify his
or her needs in order to develop the site most effectively and to ensure
maximum profitability and user satisfaction. Important items of consideration
include the following:
- Content development: To determine
if the site will include descriptions of services provided, patient
testimonials, clinical images, mission statements, introduce the staff,
and provide hyperlinks to additional resources. The frequency and process
by which updates are facilitated are also important considerations.
- Security features: To ensure the
website will have the necessary encryptions that will protect
communications and ensure patient privacy.
- Reporting and analysis: To enable
monitoring of website traffic.
- Hosting: It is important to
understand if the website will be hosted by the web designer or
subcontracted to a dedicated vendor who will “rent space” on its servers
for the site. This can represent additional (albeit nominal) recurring
fees beyond the expense of the website’s initial design.
- Patient education: To provide
additional resources (online modules, newsletters, etc) aimed at improving
the patient’s understanding and awareness of aesthetic and restorative
- Additional functionality: Decide
if integration with practice management software, e-mail services,
electronic referrals, and other enhancements are beneficial to the desired
image of the practice.
Maximizing Website Traffic
When selecting the
web designer or programmer, it is important to ensure that the service will
provide Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to better streamline the site’s web
presence. This much-discussed functionality improves the volume and quality of
traffic to the website from Internet search engines via mathematical search
results. Many consultants will incorporate SEO services into website
development and design, making the site “search engine friendly” and, thus,
more user-friendly as well.
The evolution of
the e-practice has allowed clinicians greater reach and an improved ability to
communicate directly with the patient. The use of an integrated website is the
next step in solidifying the bridge between patient and practitioner, improving
communication, case presentation, and treatment acceptance across the board.
Today’s web designers are aware that a user-friendly approach is critical to
the website’s success, and many of these host services do not require a large
expenditure, which further increases the overall return on investment.
Table 1: Web Development Considerations
- Visit other clinicians' websites and assemble a list of likes/dislikes before undertaking your build;
- Be sure to obtain written permission from any patients or staff members whose photographs are displayed on your website;
- Provide contact information, hours of operation, and answers to related questions that have traditionally required a human response from office staff;
- Select a designer that will guarantee Search Engine Optimization to increase the amount of relevant hits to your site;
- Determine the practice’s needs prior to web design so that any online features such as email or patient registration options are included in the initial quote.