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Hospital Websites – Getting Back to Basics

When talking about Web 2.0, conversation is sprinkled with words and phrases that didn’t even exist 5-10 years ago—SEO, RSS feeds, blog posts, Twitter feeds—the list can go on. In this age of information, now more than ever, hospital websites need guard against getting sucked in by all the bells and whistles of new technology and concentrate on the basics.

The principles of solid marketing and sound communication haven’t changed over the past decade. Their delivery has. Healthcare marketing and PR managers need to first remember to refer to the 3-W’s of website building: Who, Why, and What. Does that sound basic? It is! But it’s the key to effective communication. The real question to ask yourself is: ‘Am I following these rules?’

Christopher Boyer of “Hospital Online Marketing Education” states that most hospital websites he’s recently visited have ‘lost sight of the basics.”

Below is an excerpt of Boyer’s article “The Who’s, Why’s and What’s of a Hospital Web Site.”

This refers who you are – not only the features of your hospital: your key service lines, your staff, your hours of operation, but also your role in the community, and who your key stakeholders are. Hospitals also need to find a compelling way to illustrate who you will be in the future, and the importance of this to the community you serve.

People searching online are searching with intent, which means (in short) that when they are on your website, most web viewers are in the process of selecting your hospital over others. It’s important to use your website to tell them why they should choose your hospital over others. Why are you different? Is it the quality of your staff, your technologies and procedures? Is it your accreditations and/or your third-party awards? By giving them a clear illustration as to why your hospital is different – or better – than others, is critical.

The one thing that is often overlooked is perhaps the most important – now that they know the who’s and the why’s of your hospital, what do you want them to do? Consider this the business development portion of your site. What should they do to further engage with your hospital? Download additional brochures to share with their friends/family? Contact your physician referral line? Sign up for a community seminar or lecture? Hospitals that don’t give web consumers a “call to action” are leaving potential revenue on the table.

Boyer emphasizes that ‘once your hospital has addressed the who, why and what, you are free to focus on other elements of your site. And that’s when you can start turning your attention to Twitter, Facebook and other social elements.’


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