Medical practice websites on a budget can present a challenge for new and established practices alike. You know that you need a medical practice website, but how can you build something effective, accessible, and responsive that’s also within your marketing budget?
The good news is that it’s entirely possible to build a medical practice website on a budget. You just need to determine what your patients need and expect from your website and prioritize meeting those needs. Then you can get a sound cost estimate.
Keep reading for more information about general medical website set-up costs, maintenance expenses, patient portals, and more.
How much does it cost to build a medical practice website?
The cost of building a medical practice website isn’t one size fits all. The investment for a strong website, design and development included, can range from four figures to five or even six.
But most medical websites without a patient portal will cost a couple of thousand dollars for the initial setup, design, and development. Depending on your website’s size and your web team’s experience, it can take anywhere from 2 to 3 months to build out a complete website.
Some providers may choose to create a simple website with platforms like Squarespace or Wix, although these options also don’t provide healthcare growth features or business differentiation. In other words: they’re better than nothing but often do not provide the tools necessary to attract and retain patients in the long term.
Of course, that’s still a huge range to consider. So what’s the difference between a $1,000 medical practice website, and a $10,000 one?
Why do medical practice website budgets fluctuate so much?
The price range of creating a medical practice website is vast due to the many factors involved. These often include:
- The website size
- Whether the web design team will create the practice branding, or use or adapt existing or third-party branding
- The website structure and coding
- Whether the web team, the practice, or a third party will provide the website copy and content, and the nature of that content
- Potential integrations such as email forms, newsletter sign-ups, payment portals, and online scheduling
- Connecting your site to social networks and Google My Business
- The designer’s or agency’s experience
- The timeline for creating the website
- Hosting and domain set up
- HIPAA compliance
The factor with the most influence tends to be the scope of the project, or how big the website will be and what features and functionality you want it to have. This single factor determines many of the other tasks, such as the website structure, the number of pages, the amount of written content, and which integrations are essential.
For most projects, scope usually means the number of pages And there’s an easy way to figure out what information you really need: ask your patients.
In Tebra’s 4th annual Patient Perspectives survey, patients named their practice website must-haves. These are the top 5 things that patients look for:
- Services offered (32%)
- Appointment availability (31%)
- Doctor background information (14%)
- Health and care advice (9%)
- Patient testimonials (8%)
From this data, it seems that every sound medical practice website needs:
- A home page
- An about page with each provider’s background information
- A page for each service
- A contact/appointment page
- A testimonials page
You may also choose to include a blog where you can provide health and care advice — and have the opportunity to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO).
But there is something else to consider when it comes to website costs. A website is a long-term investment that requires care and upkeep. As a result, leave room in your budget for website maintenance to ensure that your website is always secure, compliant, and at its full potential.
Factor in ongoing medical practice website maintenance
Once you have the initial build of the site, you will need to keep it running. This translates into several tasks, including:
- Updating local SEO on your content pages, Google, and social media
- Updating your website content management system (CMS), particularly if using a system like WordPress
- Updating any plugins and integrations, and ensuring they continue to function correctly
- Adding, removing, or troubleshooting integrations
- Ensuring your website continues to work as browsers are updated
- Ensuring ongoing HIPAA compliance
- Maintaining paid subscriptions, including but not limited to hosting; domain registration; paid front- or back-end features like domain-based email, SEO plug-ins, newsletter or mailing list services, stock photography archives, and others; and any integrations that you pay for on an individual recurring basis
The cost of website maintenance also varies and typically has a range of $300 to $700 a month for these essential services.
As a healthcare professional, the last thing you want to do is spend your days every month ensuring that your website is secure, updated, and SEO-friendly. Paying for maintenance not only saves time and resources but also ensures that your website works 24/7. And if there’s a problem, you have someone you can call.
But this is just basic maintenance. There’s much more to a website than crafting a stellar design and maintaining it. A high-growth website often works hand-in-hand with your digital marketing efforts.
Integrate marketing efforts into your website
Your website is the centerpiece of your digital marketing. Your social media, content strategy, and patient communications may all refer to your site. As a result, you’ll often need a marketing budget to maintain and grow your online presence.
Some examples of typical website-associated marketing tasks include:
- Creating and adding new blog posts, articles, or videos to your website
- Refreshing old content so it stays current
- Updating your social media channels with new content, including text, images, and video
- Managing newsletter signups and writing regular newsletter emails
- Creating Google and social media ad copy and images
- SMS marketing and follow-up messages
- Regular keyword research and content refreshes for SEO
Depending on your specific marketing needs, the budget differs. You could pay anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per month.
Consider a patient portal
Finally, every medical practice needs a patient portal to improve patient satisfaction and maintain complete transparency. These portals are often not built by your practice—that would be too expensive to create and maintain. Your patient portal is separate from your main website, and building one from scratch is expensive — sometimes costing up to $20,000 — and time-consuming.
Instead, it is often more cost-effective to work with an established portal provider service. Typically there is a monthly flat fee and an additional fee per provider, usually between $40 to $70.
And while most elements of your patient portal will be confidential, there are some aspects you can integrate into your website. Online appointment scheduling, telehealth scheduling, and patient intake forms can improve your current and prospective patients’ experience.
Select website designers and developers
When it comes to finding a team to build your website, there are a few options: freelancers, agencies, and medical marketing specialists.
It’s possible to find freelancers — you’ll likely need several — through referrals, research, or platforms like Upwork. Doing so can allow you to handpick the individuals with whom you work, but also means you can easily spend hours hiring a team of contractors. After all, specialists in web development aren’t necessarily specialists in web design, and web designers aren’t necessarily written content creators. That team will likely then need to be managed, whether by you or a project manager you hire.
Agencies often provide all of these people for you — with a higher attached cost. Furthermore, you may not be working directly with your designer or writer, meaning that you may not have as much control over your website development.
Another issue with both freelancers and agencies is that they’ll need to work around various healthcare-specific software integrations. Doing so can add time to the project, and can potentially introduce security vulnerabilities that will also need to be addressed.
A medical marketing specialist can be a more stable and secure option. A specialist organization that focuses on medical websites, marketing, and software will likely be an all-in-one solution, saving your time and potentially money. An ideal all-in-one solution will offer:
- Website design and development
- SEO and content marketing
- Reputation management
- Advertising and social media
- Patient portals
- Telehealth options
- An integrated electronic health record (EHR), including eRx and eLabs
- Insurance and payment processing
Build for the future
Especially when you’re just starting out or on a tight budget, it can be tempting to opt for quick, cheap, or piecemeal medical practice website options. But a good medical practice website isn’t just a place for patients to find your address, services, or even appointment calendar — it’s an opportunity to connect with existing and prospective patients, build trust in your practice, and offer value that can grow over time.