8 mistakes to avoid with your online physician directory

Does your website allow patients to access enough information and connect with the health care professionals easily?

Physician directories are vitally important to every health care system.

They are:

  • Among the highest viewed pages on any hospital website
  • The first impression of your health system and physicians
  • Patient conversion vehicles

There are eight common mistakes made in physician directories. Once you know the mistakes, you can revise your directory to drive new patient acquisition.

1. Naming the tool something other than “Find A Doctor.”

Because prospective patients visit the site to learn more about potentially receiving care from your organization, the naming of the online directory should reflect the user need. A best practice is to include the directory in the primary or global navigation of the site.

2. Requiring a search before showing any doctor results.

Showing the available doctors and providing search terms helps the user narrow their results, creating a more effective and user-friendly experience. This helps the user to see all potential doctors and control how the search is narrowed.


3. Not having individual bio pages for each doctor.

Some online directories show search results as a list of doctors’ names, but a best practice is to create a unique URL per doctor for their individual bio pages. This creates a space to showcase much more information about individual physicians. By not using unique URLs per doctor, you make it difficult for the user to share information about individual doctors—internally, through social media, in digital campaigns, among care givers or among potential patients.

4. “About/Bio” content is missing from the bio page.

Many online directories have unique URLs per doctor, but miss the mark when they don’t help a prospective patient learn more than the basic facts about the doctor. Patients expect more information to help make their health care buying decision. Include a profile picture, relevant videos, publication listings, and patient testimonials.

Here are two examples of health systems that incorporate “About” and “Bio” pages:

Duke Health: https://www.dukehealth.org/find-doctors-physicians/barbara-d-aldridge-md

Martin Health: https://www.martinhealth.org/john-afshar-md

5. Search filters are too broad or too specific.

In other words, avoid jargon; use everyday language. People who don’t work in health care don’t search for “Oncology”; they search for “cancer.”

6. Profile images are poor quality or nonexistent.

Whether the docs wear lab coats or are standing in front of the same blue backdrop depends on the branding and your organization’s persona. Most of all, high-resolution images are a must, especially because many in your audience are using iPhones and other tablets with high-resolution displays that magnify the flaws in low-quality images.

7. Not offering a way to contact the doctor or hospital.

Not providing a way for prospective patients to contact the doctor happens far more often than we would like to admit. Most often, only a phone number is listed, which raises the communication barrier between the provider and the prospective patient by prompting the user to make a call—instead of sending an email when they are already on a device. Given that the user is searching the online directory, the suggested communication method should follow. Providing a phone number might not be convenient for the user; often, phone numbers put a patient into a phone tree. Also, the user might search the directory at a time when the phones are not being answered.

8. An “Advanced Search” feature is not available.

The advanced search feature enables users to narrow their results so they can select the best doctor for their needs. Not having this feature puts too many choices before the user, which can cause decision fatigue. An advanced search is great for people who want to narrow their search and have a better idea of what they are exactly searching for. Omitting this feature can frustrate users by not allowing them to narrow their searches effectively. It is also a terrific way for hospitals to label things, in all their quirky ways, that satisfy internal political issues but allow the focus to be on usability with basic search features.

This post originally appeared on the Franklin Street blog.

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