The state of healthcare has transformed over the past few decades. Patients now have more control than ever before on their health and wellness. 1 out of every 20 Google searches are health-related and 83% of patients will visit a hospital website before booking an appointment. The amount of health-related content online is exponentially increasing and with that comes difficulty in finding the right information for an individuals’ health needs.

When patients visit a healthcare website, they may be looking to fulfill a number of specific needs. Visitors may want to research potential symptoms, schedule an appointment, find a doctor, or pay a bill. With such a wide range of functions, good search and navigation are a must for the industry. The problem? Too many healthcare websites have poor or even non-existent on-site search, with a clunky user experience that turns potential patients away. What should the healthcare industry consider when designing a better user experience? Here are 3 great places to start:

 

1. Create a categorized navigation structure that makes sense

A healthcare website is built to fill multiple needs but without straightforward navigation, it can easily fall short. Imagine a user visits their local hospital system’s website in search of a nearby location for a blood pressure screening. This user enters their query ‘blood pressure screening’ into the search box and a long, winding list of results appears including everything from a blog on how to lower your blood pressure through exercise to news on the hospital’s new bariatric surgery unit. This type of experience can be overwhelming and drive users away.

Now imagine that same user entered the same query on a website with faceted search navigation. Instead of being presented with a disorganized list of results, this user will be able to drill down their search result further and easily locate a blood pressure screening event nearby.

Functionality like faceted navigation is extremely common in ecommerce but it’s spilling over into other industries as well. When used effectively in the healthcare space, it can help simplify the search process and reduce the amount of work it takes a patient to find the information they need.

 

2. Deliver a personalized experience

Healthcare is very personal, there is no doubt about that. For physicians, understanding each patient on an individual level is extremely important to providing effective care. Like almost everything else today, this same key element to success can be applied online as well.

Visitors come to a website carrying a lot of data about who they are and where they came from. By leveraging advanced machine learning technology, healthcare providers can display content to users on a one-to-one level. Through this technique, providers can segment content based on age, gender, location, and past behaviors to deliver only the most relevant search results. Popular pieces of content can also be boosted to the top automatically based on page views or other important determining factors. When it’s done right, this can drive enhanced engagement for patients.

 

3. Know your search

Before embarking on any change to a website’s user experience, it’s important to research and analyze user behavior. By using search-based reporting tools, website administrators can see exactly how their site’s search is performing and where to make improvements. Perhaps a significant amount of users are having trouble finding insurance information. Healthcare providers can take that knowledge and develop smoother navigation or dynamic marketing rules to increase visibility for insurance content.

It’s also beneficial to monitor any trends on a consistent basis to make incremental enhancements. Most trends are only visible over a long period of time and website teams can glean some great insights from reporting data.

As patients continue to rely on the internet for their health and wellness needs, creating a user-friendly online experience is a must for any healthcare provider. By increasing ease of use and findability for important content, providers can improve patient outcomes and quality of care.

Are you interested in seeing how you can improve your website’s user experience? Schedule a demo with one of our Hawksearch experts today.