A spot check reveals that most Kenyan hospitals don’t have websites or an online presence for that matter. Private and faith-based hospitals however fair much better in this regard compared to their public counterparts.
In this digital era, the importance of a landing page and an active social media presence for any business or organization cannot be stressed enough. This is because a majority of people nowadays primarily rely on the internet as their first source of information.
When it come to health matters, hospitals are undoubtedly well-placed to educate the public on a wide array of health related subjects thanks to their highly skilled personnel, experience but more importantly, their trustworthiness (i.e. they can be trusted as an authoritative source, after all is it not in hospitals where we ultimately seek medical advice and treatment?)
This presents a win-win situation on both side as this ensures consumers get valid health information from trained experts while at the same time bringing potential clients to their facilities or private practises.
There are a couple of items that can be used to build an effective online presence. Each of these items might seem more than enough just on their own however like certain drug therapies they’re best prescribed together for that critical synergistic effect.
Let’s go through some of them.
The most essential item in the web presence checklist is a website. This why: you certainly want users to first land on your website when they search for your facility in a search engine.
This allows you to provide the most accurate and up-to date information concerning what it’s they’re searching about. Some common queries users search regarding hospitals and which you ought to include in detail include:
The above are some of the most essential however for the benefit of your users and staff, the following list of items may also be included where available:
As you can tell, a website is an incredibly powerful resource when used to its full potential. However, like all good things, a resourceful website such as this requires good tending to keep it up-to date as well maintain its back-end.
We most certainly don’t want outdated information or worse, downtimes and nasty malware infections. Don’t forget, this is the equivalent of a front-door to your virtual hospital and image as they say is everything.
An investment in a well designed and secure website as well as a person to maintain it are therefore worthwhile considerations.
A blog usually goes hand-in-hand with a website and is typically built into it in a separate directory or even subdomain. The difference between the two is that a website can be put to various uses whilst a blog is specifically geared for posting and showcasing articles.
When I mentioned hospitals can use their online presence to educate the public, what I had in mind was a blog. How so?
Let’s say for instance you’re launching a mammography service in your facility. Sure, you can easily include it in the page where you’ve the rest of your services listed however this might not have a huge impact.
For one, some people may not know what a mammography and those who know, well, you’ll have given them no information beyond the obvious fact that you provide the service.
If you however post a blog article, authored no less by your Oncologist, going into detail about what a mammography is and how it’s going to assist him or her have the best possible outcomes for patients, then you’ll have simultaneously educated the public on breast cancer all the while creating a meaningful interest in your diagnostic services.
If that’s not enough, your readers also get the opportunity to post responses to your helpful articles thanks to comment sections that are a typically included in most blogs.
That right there is the power of a blog. It allows you to connect with your audience and build trust in your brand in ways a website wouldn’t accomplish just on its own.
The benefits of social networks to businesses are well documented top of the list being that they allow them to connect with a much larger audience than what they’d be able to reach or accommodate on their websites. This should be the case for hospitals too.
While the website might act as the front-door to your virtual hospital, the social network is more akin to its virtual reception where you’ll interact with users directly.
You’ll answer their questions as well as receive feedback (reviews) from your clients. Public relations is thus inevitably integral if not critical to the success of your brand’s social media presence.
Social networks however also come with profiles which provide you with a space to briefly provide important information (e.g. location and contacts) and showcase your services – a perfect opportunity which you can use to funnel users back to your website for more detailed explanations.
Likewise you can use it promote your blog articles by posting their links in your time-lines. This way you get traffic to your website and create active discussions in your pages.
Some social media profiles you should consider having for your hospital include:
There are plenty of business listing services out there, some free others premium. They can also be either non-specific (i.e. lists all kinds of businesses) or may be focusing on just one niche such as hotels, dentists, salons etc.
Google My Business is good example of the former while HOSI is an example of the latter that focuses solely on hospitals.
Listing sites allows users to easily find you through their bigger or more established platforms. They’re more akin to search engines than normal websites. As such they don’t purpose to replace your website or social media pages but rather to point users to them.
Listing your hospital in these platforms is therefore key as it allows users to easily find you through the mountains of results that are search engine results.
By listing with Google for instance, users who search for your business will get your contact information, location, directions as well as read reviews from your clients, all this via the first page of search results.
But of course there’s some information that even Google cannot include and that’s where niche listing sites like HOSI come to fill the gap. As such it’s beneficial to have your listing in multiple platforms as this increases the chances of users not only finding it but getting the information they need.