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Joel Headley

The speed of your website could cost your healthcare practice patients

Increase the speed of your website to attract new patients and encourage bookings.

Healthcare providers know that speed of care can make an incredible difference in the health of patients. In some cases, quick intervention can mean life or death. For example, immediate intervention for a person experiencing cardiac arrest — the leading cause of cardiovascular death — can more than double a person’s chance of survival, according to the American Heart Association.

Although the stakes are not as high, speed matters for your healthcare practice website, too. Prospective patients expect your website to load quickly on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices so they can determine whether your practice meets their needs. If your website is slow to load, you could miss out on attracting new patients.

In this blog, I share how you can determine your website speed and discuss a few ways you can improve the speed of your site.

Discover the Speed of a Healthcare Practice Website

The easiest way to determine your website’s speed is to use the Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI) tool. PSI fetches your website, analyzes its structure, and suggests optimizations.

PSI produces scores for mobile and desktop, which are broken down by speed and optimization. Scores will likely be similar for mobile and desktop for responsive websites (those that render well on a variety of devices and screen sizes). However, scores can vary greatly for websites that are not responsive or are mobile websites (those built specifically for use on mobile phones).

When I enter the URL www.dramersi.com — the website for Santa Monica-based OB-GYN Shamsah Amersi, MD — I see the results are very good: 99/100 for mobile optimization and 97/100 for desktop optimization, as of Jan. 17, 2018. What are the results for your current healthcare practice website?

Related: Why Being Mobile-Friendly is Necessary for Healthcare Practice Websites

Increase the Speed of a Healthcare Practice Website

PSI suggests improvements you can make to optimize website performance. If you use a third-party website provider, some suggestions might be out of your control. However, there are a few things that you can fix by managing your content appropriately.

Reduce Size: Be wary of adding optional plugins or large images to your healthcare practice website. These items might seem appealing on a large desktop screen, but they often don’t add to the mobile experience and can degrade speed. Think about compressing or simplifying images to improve load times. Remember, good things come in small packages.

Prioritize Content Above the Fold: “Above the fold” is a term that refers to content visible on the upper half of a webpage without scrolling down the page. Your healthcare practice website should feature content that is most important to prospective patients above the fold. This includes a call-to-action (CTA) to book an appointment. Avoid plugins that could eat up resources when loading your page.

Limit Server Requests: Avoid redirects that might have one URL appear in search results, and then another when a user lands on your website. This will minimize the number of times a user’s browser asks your server for more information about your site.

Test Your Website Speed Against Popular Websites

Chrome recently added new information to the Chrome User Experience Report, which details how real people who use the web browser experience popular websites. Two times are reported:

  • FCP measures the moment most users are able to start interacting with the page. (That’s the visible, above-the-fold content discussed above)
  • DCL measures the time at which all page content is done loading.

On mobile, speeds of 1.6 seconds FCP and 2.1 seconds DCL are in the top third of all sites.

Only websites with sufficient sample sizes are included in the report, so small businesses like private healthcare practices do not have scores. However, you can test the speed of your website by loading the site on your phone over your typical mobile connection. Websites that load within three seconds are doing well; those that load in two seconds are doing great.

Look: Perfect Your Practice Website in 5 Steps

Is Your Healthcare Practice Website Fast Enough?

According to the Kissmetrics blog, 47% of people expect a webpage to load in 2 seconds or fewer, and 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. For healthcare providers, this means the faster their website loads, the more likely prospective patients will schedule appointments.

PatientPop can build your healthcare practice a website that loads quickly and is specifically designed to increase appointments. For more information on this, request a demo of the PatientPop practice growth platform.

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Joel Headley
Joel Headley is Director of Local Search and Marketing at PatientPop, the market leader in healthcare practice growth. With a decade of experience at Google, Joel is an expert in optimizing websites for search and has a deep understanding of how doctors are found and assessed online.

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