The Internet has transformed the way in which most people gather information, making it vital for all industries – including and perhaps especially the healthcare industry – to not only maintain a comprehensive website, but to keep even with advances in technology that will provide the public easy access to the information they desire.
A case in point is the sharp increase in the use of cell phones with Internet connection. The advent of so-called “smart phones” such as the iPhone, Blackberry and Droid has prompted the exploration of new technological avenues, leading to the creation of “mobile web sites.” According to industry reports, the current mobile landscape can only broaden due to the unprecedented growth of mobile platforms.
In essence, a mobile site is a streamlined website, configured to easily fit a “smart phone” screen. This technology allows people easy access to information from their cell phones, something that consumers increasingly not only want, but expect. Anyone who has ever attempted to navigate through a traditional website from a smart phone can appreciate the need for streamlining the process. This challenge can lead to frustration and sometimes worse for those in need of immediate contact information for a medical facility.
Increasingly, hospitals and medical centers are offering mobile versions of their websites to both attract new patients and build continued loyalty with existing patients. And no wonder, since according to a study conducted by the Pew Trust in September of 2010, nearly 60% of adults in this country over the age of 18 are accessing the Internet via a laptop or mobile device…and of those 61% are searching for health related information.
Mobile-ready access to websites eliminates the sometimes tedious task of locating desired information by reducing complexity – it’s not necessary to scroll through large text screens since information is organized by importance and formatted for relevance.
A “mobile” website is quicker to navigate than its full-sized counterpart. When a traditional website is optimized for use in a “smart phone” or alternative mobile platform it is redesigned to provide information quickly with just a few taps. Moreover, a mobile website can save time spent on data entry since contact phone numbers, email addresses, and directions are immediately accessible by tapping.
This mobile ability is opening new marketing doors for the health care industry through the use of specific applications, such as a “physician search” button on hospital or medical center mobile websites. The search application is designed to provide a list of physicians; once a name has been selected specific credential and contact information comes into view.
Other applications offered by mobile sites include health information sections where users can search medical conditions and receive information about symptoms and treatments.
Mobile websites are a win-win for those in the healthcare industry and the people it serves – helping to deliver a facility’s message and most compelling website content with just a glance at a mobile phone screen.
In addition to mobile websites, a wide variety of online tools are now available to medical facilities’ main websites.
For example, some facilities utilize real time credit processing for online payment, thereby providing patients a simple mechanism to address their health care bills. And a growing number of hospital websites allow for donations to specific programs and services online in a secure and confidential manner.
An increasing number of hospital websites also offer online physician referral service for those in future need of a physician; applicants can be matched with appropriate physicians at the facility for treatment and care.
Furthermore, website translation is a cost-effective method of rapidly expanding a medical facility’s client base. Healthcare is one of the many industries to realize the immense benefits of translating the English version of a website; in fact it is a crucial component to a website in today’s global, technology-based economy.
Technology is a proven component to building relationships between medical facilities and the people they serve – it is a key that will continue to open new methods of communication within the healthcare industry.
Kevin McNally is President/CEO of Interactive Palette, www.interactivepalette.com, a web design/hosting firm with offices in Fall River and Braintree, MA.