10 steps to establish a successful Web page

If you’re thinking of creating a Web site for your practice, here are some steps you should take:

- Determine the specific business, operational, and marketing goals you hope to achieve from a Web page. Decide what you want it to achieve and how it will add value to your practice.

- Find a site you like, and contact the person who made it.

- Check out the company before signing on.

- Read the contract carefully. Make sure you’re not paying a lot of hidden fees. Some companies, particularly those that create Web sites for big businesses, may charge you to register the name, or to make small changes down later on.

- If it’s free, you’re probably not getting a bargain. There are companies that will produce cookie-cutter Web sites that may not be much help.

- Make sure you can customize your site to fit your own practice’s needs.

- Look at all the aspects, such as how often you’ll need to update your page, who will do the updates, and how much time and money it will take.

- Update your site frequently to keep the information fresh. It reflects poorly on your practice if your Web site is still urging patients to get their flu shots in the middle of March.

- Publicize your Web page to everyone you know. Make patients aware of your presence on the Internet, but don’t stop there. Ask the hospitals with which you are affiliated to set up a link to your Web page. After the site is up and running, get in touch with every organization you belong to, even organizations like the Rotary or Lions Club, give them your Web site address, and get them to put a link to your site on their Web site. If you belong to the chamber of commerce or the local medical society, ask them to put in a link to your Web site.

- Come up with a way of tracking what the site has done for you. Your Internet service provider will give you reports on how many hits your Web page has gotten and how long people stay on it, but you may want more information. For instance, if your site includes a form to make sure patient information is correct, track how often patients use the site to update their information instead of doing it in your office. You can extrapolate the savings in clerical time as a result.