I’ve moved a lot in my adult life, leading to a pretty common list of Google searches upon settling into a new place. Those “The truck is unloaded and you’ve eaten half a pizza and are wondering if you made the right choice” kind of Google searches. You know the ones.
Megan’s Post-Move Search History
- Primary care providers in “Insert City Here”
- Ice cream shops near me
- Thrift stores in my area
- Birds in my state
While all of these searches are equally important — to me at least — one of them probably has more relevance to your healthcare organization. (It’s the birds, of course.)
Okay, it’s the search for providers. Potential patients looking for a new provider might come upon your healthcare organization through a Google search or a word-of-mouth recommendation to check out your practice.
To get that potential patient to make an appointment and get in the door, your healthcare website is doing a lot of heavy lifting. Yet no matter how much work has gone into making that journey happen for a user — to them, it has to feel effortless.
If they’re looking for a primary care provider, they should be able to find one. If they’re looking for a specialist, that information should be at the tip of their fingers.
That’s where your provider directory comes in — and why it needs to be a good one.
A Good Provider Directory Should Be Usable
This might sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many provider directories are not easily usable.
For most people, unusable can mean a clunky interface, a slow loading time, or a search and filter function that is unreliable at best — and nonexistent at worst. All of these small inconveniences can create big patient frustration. Each is a ding against your healthcare organization and your credibility.
But usability isn’t only for the people using your site. Your provider directory is also under yet another scrutinizing eye: Google.
While keeping Google in mind might feel like just another task on your to-do list, it’s actually a pretty exciting one. With the right information, you can have a big impact on your visibility on a Google results page.
You need to make sure your pages are filled with the right information — and that that information is tagged correctly for Google to find it. Physician information comes with its own tag schema that can boost a page in Google’s local search.
Become familiar with the kinds of info you need to include, and make sure to collect it for each individual provider profile.
Top 3 Qualities Of A Good Provider Directory
- Valid data that is kept up to date — like location, phone numbers, and insurances accepted
- Information for patients to make a decision (depends on organization goals, intended user interaction)
- Good search and filter function to easily find the providers that are relevant to a user
Your Provider Directory Is About Your Providers
On the backend of creating a provider directory, there are a lot of moving pieces. There may even be some office politics, too.
But for your patients and their user experience, it has to be all about the providers.
Your provider directory — done well — gives a human face and personality to what otherwise would be simply a name on a screen. Credentials and specialties alone won’t tell potential patients what a provider is actually like, but simple additions to a provider’s page can.
Consider including things on a physician’s profile page like:
- A warm and welcoming headshot
- A short bio explaining their background, medical, or educational journey — even interests or hobbies
- A provider video that shows them talking about themselves and in their own environment
Google also rewards longer content, so including more information can have exponential benefits in addition to increasing the amount of time a user might stay on a particular page.
Provider Directories Aren’t One And Done
While many healthcare website trends ebb and flow with time, one thing that probably won’t change is users coming to your website and wanting to find a physician. This makes provider directories a worthwhile long-term investment.
But just because provider directories as a tool aren’t going out of style any time soon, that doesn’t mean you can create it and forget about it.
Data clean-up is an area that a lot of organizations underestimate in terms of time and effort. Though it may not be something you do until after your directory is set up, it’s actually a critical step in ensuring a good directory.
“When it comes to provider directory longevity, it’s important to have a clear process for data governance, ownership, and maintenance. Without a detailed and agreed-upon process, data can become out of sync and stale over time.”
In one study conducted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, they found that more than half of the provider directory locations assessed had at least one inaccuracy. This alone is a good reason to double-check the information in your provider directory.
- Does a provider currently practice where your directory says they do?
- Is the contact information for each provider accurate?
- Is a provider actually accepting new patients if it says they’re accepting new patients?
At the end of the day, bad data in equals bad data out — and a poor experience for users. If your directory says Dr. Smith is a physician at your practice but moved out of state 2 months ago, it doesn’t matter how beautiful or welcoming their page is. It’s still out of date.
The Power Of Your Provider Directory
Depending on the size of your organization, building or revamping your provider directory might feel like a Herculean-sized undertaking. You may be thinking, “We have thousands of providers — I wouldn’t even know where to start.”
But isn’t that all the more reason to make sure potential patients can find someone quickly and painlessly?
Or maybe you’re thinking, “We’re a small healthcare organization — we don’t have that many providers to comb through, anyway.”
But isn’t that a good opportunity to show patients you offer the same high level of quality as larger institutions?
No matter the size of your healthcare organization, everyone can benefit from a more efficient provider directory — and CareContent is here to help.