Rejuvenating online experience for established practice websites

Jason Borody

Director, Vividus

Great patient experience is essential for practices to maintain, both online and offline. Aside from driving patients to return and a key part of establishing credibility – a priority for medical authorities as Australia continues COVID vaccine rollout and it forms the basis for the ranking algorithms of most search engines. On all fronts, providing an excellent patient experience can benefit your practice greatly.

In their efforts to produce an excellent online experience, practices with long-running online presences tend to fall into several positions which can ultimately undermine their efforts. Building over time and often resulting from well-intentioned actions, these common mistakes are best identified and rectified in their earlier stages.

Mistake 1: no patient feedback

As they are typically gathered over time, established practices often have many patient reviews across various online platforms. These are integral to social proof, although they are prone to both underuse and misuse.

To ensure these are used effectively, ask yourself:

  • Are all facets of feedback effectively monitored? Remember to watch your social media and online listings for patient feedback, as not all patients will comment on your GMB listing or feedback forms. You may need to look at less popular platforms to find your patients feedback.
  • Is the feedback you receive a review or a testimonial? While patient reviews are permitted for advertising health services in Australia, patient testimonials are forbidden for use. If you are looking for more information and help in determining the suitability of patient feedback for advertising, you should check the patient review tool on the healthcaremarketing.com.au website.

To get appropriate feedback, help your reviewers understand your needs.

If you find yourself receiving more testimonials than reviews, consider adding a patient education element to your feedback systems: briefly explain the advertising restrictions which apply and suggest non-clinical areas of service to comment on instead (eg. the practice and staff, rather than the treatment received and its effects).

In our experience, Australian medical advertising laws are not common knowledge and most reviewers aren't aware of the restrictions their feedback needs to meet for use in promotions. We have found that many patients are happy to adjust their commentary when made aware of this.

Mistake 2: poor site structure

It is natural to expand a website with more content over time, both for SEO value and in response to practice growth; however, a poorly planned structure can result in disorder as new content is added, reducing the website's effectiveness as a tool for information.

This pitfall may begin in the earliest stages of development when a website is designed without consulting the practice's business strategy, resulting in harried restructures and additions.

Is your website vulnerable to disorganisation? Consider the following when determining an ideal structure:

  • How will the practice change in the next few years? If you plan to add services, staff members, or locations in near future, your website's design should factor for their inclusion. Changes which are further down the line may be best reflected in a more major rebuild.
  • How will users access your content? It is best to develop a structure which allows access to relevant information with minimal user action, as long search processes can make users seek information elsewhere.
Pre-emptive solution: keep tabs on production. Bear in mind that even the most well-designed site structures can become disorganised without maintenance. Following the initial development, it is important to regularly audit all website content, evaluating the way it fits into the site. Consider the ease of user access and ensure that any new sections or categories will see ongoing use.

Repairing a disorganised site

If your practice website has already fallen into disarray, it may be possible to restore usability by restructuring and recategorizing content. While this process is often time-consuming, it results in a far more effective website and an infinitely improved user experience if conducted properly. If a navigable structure cannot be salvaged, a site rebuild may be in order.

Mistake 3: purposeless content

Purposeless content is content which provides little or no value to your business. We often see it developed as a result of misguided SEO efforts, or resulting from changes in the industry or practice which render old information ineffective. While any content is usually better than no content at all, your marketing resources are better spent efforts which produce a better return on investment.

How will your content hold up over time? Consider the following to make content with ongoing value:

  • Does this content educate and inform? Patients who approach with questions are best met with relevant answers. Providing educative and informative content helps demonstrate your subject authority while establishing your drive to help.
  • Does it deliver an actionable conclusion? Your content should connect to a service you can provide. If it fails to do so, it may waste resources by attracting irrelevant traffic to your website.

To revive old content, give it a new purpose.

If purposeless content has already been created (as is often the case in established practices), the best way to deal with it is to revive it, rather than removing it completely and sacrificing any small value it provides. Content for a service which is no longer offered can be rewritten or redirected to a suitable alternative, and that which reflects old industry opinions can be updated with new insights. Doing so can demonstrate your commitment to patient education and attract traffic with higher relevancy.

Final thoughts

An ongoing strategy for your online progression and promotion is essential to maintain its quality and make best use of your marketing resources. Prevention is better than cure: although the mistakes outlined above are usually fixable, taking strategic action to prevent them is far less labour intensive than repairing them once they occur.

In consult with a medical marketing professional, you must implement guidelines and systems to effectively manage your website maintenance and evolution to preserve your online patient experience (as well as keeping it updated and secure). Contact us for help in examining and maintaining your online marketing efforts.

Next steps - implementation checklist

  • Visit healthcaremarketing.com.au/webaudit to get your free website examination
  • Check your website content is up to date, especially your contact and team pages
  • Ensure you have current privacy and terms of service pages
  • Review analytics and call tracking to determine website ROI performance
  • Check your website performance and security package is current and effective

Looking for assistance or have questions?

Vividus is here to help with all aspects of medical marketing and communication. Please contact us for an introduction to Jason Borody or one of our medical marketing specialists.

This article has been prepared by Vividus Pty Ltd for the education and benefit of healthcare professionals. While the information in this article is from sources which are considered reliable at the time of writing, Vividus and its employees, independent bloggers, consultants, and officers do not guarantee, warrant, or represent, expressly or impliedly, that the information contained in this article is complete or accurate. Vividus does not accept responsibility to inform you of any matter that subsequently comes to its notice which may affect any information contained within this document. To the extent permitted by law, Vividus excludes any liability, including any liability for negligence, for any loss, including indirect or consequential damages arising from or in relation to the use of any of the information in this document or associated materials.


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