5 Key Features that Healthcare Websites Should Have in 2020
Healthcare providers and services are expanding their reach by providing digital channels through which users and patients can perform their transactions. While these are positive developments that should provide convenience to users, many healthcare websites still leave much to be desired in terms of features and functionalities. They still fall short of what are considered best practices in web design and development today.
For instance, many healthcare websites are hampered by slow loading times even though users now expect websites to load quickly. Slow websites are likely to be abandoned by visitors. Given the competition in the healthcare industry, providers must be able to effectively engage their users. Others have been criticized to contain too much technical jargon and information that ordinary users find their content incomprehensible. Web accessibility or the ease by which people with disabilities can use their sites has also become a concern.
Fortunately, the emergence of various web development tools can help healthcare websites address these concerns. For example, various web user interface (UI) and front end frameworks like Material-UI are now widely available to help developers implement fast and responsive designs. Accessibility platform accessiBe can help site owners to automatically apply accessibility standards and easily make sites compliant. Search services have even introduced features that can help users receive personalized search results.
Given the availability of these tools, healthcare providers should look into improving the experience that their websites provide. The turn of the year should be an opportune time to update, modernize, and incorporate new features that are essential today. Here are the key features that healthcare websites should have.
1 - Accessible and ADA-Compliant
Many healthcare organizations also overlook the need to comply with laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for their online channels. Their websites lack the necessary accessibility features that would allow people with disabilities to use them without complications.
ADA-related lawsuits have increased in recent years, especially those against healthcare providers and their digital channels. Companies like WellPoint (now called Anthem), HCA Holdings, Tenet Healthcare and CAC Florida Medical Centers have all been slammed with ADA lawsuits. Some of the plaintiffs are individuals, while others have banded together to make their claims as a larger class action lawsuit. While the details of each case vary from one another, in all of these examples, the plaintiffs, who suffer from various forms of disabilities, have all argued that these healthcare providers' websites are not sufficiently accessible, falling short on ADA compliance.
To become ADA-compliant, healthcare websites must provide UI customization features that allow users to change text sizes, colors, and contrasts which can help those with visual impairments see page elements clearly. Video content must also feature captions and transcripts to aid the deaf. Their images must also have alt texts that are essential to screen readers for them to describe online pictures to the blind. Healthcare websites must also support input devices to help those with motor disabilities to navigate them.
Using tools like accessiBe can greatly help healthcare websites comply with ADA. accessiBe can automatically scan websites, remediate accessibility issues, and add features to achieve compliance.
2 - Streamlined and Responsive Web UI
Patients value expediency due to their health concerns. They need to be able to get the information that they need or complete transactions quickly. Healthcare providers must cater to this need and ensure that their digital channels are able to handle these tasks capably.
The user interface (UI) plays a major factor in delivering such an experience. Websites must feature a streamlined design that is intuitive to use. Users should be able to freely navigate the site and get to their desired sections without much confusion.
Developers can start by choosing and implementing a front end framework that allows for both speedy performance and elegant design. Material-UI, for instance, implements Google's Material Design specification that promotes user-centric and intuitive design. Considering that most users now also browse the internet using mobile pages, having a responsive website that displays well and loads quickly on mobile is a must.
3 - Searchable and Comprehensible Content
Some visitors of hospital websites may not be familiar with medical terms that are related to their conditions. This can make it difficult for them to find information that can help them make sense of what they are currently experiencing. As such, healthcare websites must ensure that their content is easy to find and understand.
Websites must have a visible search function that allows patients to look for illnesses based on symptoms rather than unfamiliar medical terms. They must also ensure that they refrain from using jargon in their menu options, links, and articles. For example, instead of using using technical terms such as "otolaryngologist", they can simply use related and familiar words like "ears, nose, and throat".
Healthcare websites can also provide a glossary of medical terms or even a dictionary feature to ensure that their patients will be able to understand their content and find answers to their questions.
4 - Personalized Experience
Aside from searchability, websites can further boost the experience through personalization. Patients typically want to know more about their conditions and concerns. They want to be served relevant information concerning their ailments and be given clear directions on how to address their medical needs. Healthcare services already have patient information that they can use to provide a personalized experience to these users.
The patient's home page can feature panels and widgets that would display patient education articles specific to their histories. For example, the site can show dietary recommendations and exercise plans for hypertensive patients to help them better manage their blood pressure and make appropriate lifestyle changes.
Search platforms like AddSearch can also be integrated to allow users to be served personalized results based on their online activities. If a user has previously searched for certain health concerns and products, it is possible for the site to provide results related to these topics. Websites can also use the patient's geolocation to recommend nearby clinics that they can visit. These features provide users actionable insights that can help them understand their health conditions and take the necessary steps to get better.
5 - Secure Data and Transactions
Healthcare websites collect high volumes of sensitive data every day. This has made them a popular target for hackers. As such, it is only prudent for healthcare websites to implement the best security practices to reduce the likelihood of a data breach. Suffering from a security breach can result in lawsuits, financial losses, and a damaged reputation.
To safely store medical data, healthcare providers must use enterprise-grade data centers that are built to defend them against modern threats. They must also secure an SSL certificate for their websites to ensure safe transactions. Websites must also be regularly updated to ensure that vulnerabilities are addressed.
Investing in strong encryption software can also prevent sensitive data from being intercepted. Websites should also encourage patients to use secure passphrases and implement two-factor authentication for added security. Healthcare providers must also place an audit trail to monitor all activities in the record system and track any attempts to access patient data.
Healthcare providers must take a closer look at their websites and ensure that they have the necessary features that can properly address the needs of their patients and users. With modern tools at their disposal, it will be easier for them to implement changes and enhance their website's usability, performance, and security. Ultimately, updating and reinforcing their websites will help medical organizations provide the best care and assistance to their patients.
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