The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

Why medical practice website design fails to attract patients

If your medical practice’s website design is failing to attract and retain patients, you may need to ensure you have these 5 key items on your site.

Man looking at tablet learning about website design for medical practices.

At a Glance

  • Key components patients want to see on practice websites are physician availability, detailed service descriptions, reviews/testimonials, easy navigation, and social media integration.
  • High-growth medical websites focus on the patient experience by providing features like online scheduling, patient portals, intake forms, educational content, videos, and FAQs.
  • Good website design should focus on usability, accessibility, and reflecting the practice’s services.

For an independent healthcare professional, a website is a top tool in your marketing strategy toolbox. Even if you don’t offer online services or telehealth appointments, medical practice websites are often the first place patients turn when determining who to see for their condition, and good medical practice web design is a key part of the equation.

But what does it mean for a medical website to fail?

Generally, a low-performing website:

  • Does not result in new patient leads
  • Confuses current patients that try to use it
  • Fails to attract web visitors
  • Does not retain the visitors it gets for long

Ultimately, these websites are rarely viewed, and if a prospective patient does find the site, they can’t find the information they need to make a decision. 

This is a big deal because, industry-wise, 88% of patients go from an online search to a phone call. Websites not built for patient acquisition are missing out on growth opportunities. 

The good news is that it’s possible to fix a low-performing site. But to do that, it’s important to know what causes low performance in the first place.

Why do medical practice websites fail?

Medical practices fail when they aren’t built around patient needs, and so do their websites. Patients want more than a brief biography of their physician and a phone number. They want to know when their healthcare provider is available, what services they offer, and what others say about them. 

There are 5 general items low-performing websites share in common. When you review your site for improvements, determine whether you have these 5 patient-centric features covered: 

1. No clear availability

In Tebra’s 4th Patient Perspectives survey, 31% of patients said appointment availability is a must-have for a medical website. The fact is that patients are busy — an easy overview of availability allows them to plan better. 

Without knowing whether or not their chosen healthcare provider is free, patients may move on to an option that highlights the physician’s calendar on the website. And why not? It’s much easier to schedule appointments online than to call an office during a set time with a variable receptionist experience. 

A recent survey shows that 31% of patients said appointment availability is a must-have for a medical website. ”
4th Patient Perspectives survey

If you want to stand out and attract more patients, having a clear appointment calendar on your website can easily pull people in. 

Quick fix: Add a scheduling calendar to your website home or contact page with platforms like Calendly or Tebra.

2. No detailed services page(s)

There are 2 benefits of a detailed service page or pages. First, patients want to know what you offer. Second, a well-written page is more likely to get ranked highly by search engines, which makes it easier for patients to find your site. Failing to write a comprehensive list of services, or worse, not having a services section at all, confuses patients.

Most patients don’t want to have to call in to see if you can help them with a specific problem. They want to know immediately if you offer solutions relevant to them. Listing your services makes it easier for them to decide to book an appointment. 

Quick fix: Start with one page per service. This approach helps your search engine optimization (SEO), as well as makes your process clear to patients. 

3. No testimonials

Reviews are essential for building trust with prospective patients — especially those from younger generations. For example, 62% of Gen Z patients won’t even consider a healthcare provider without reviews. And 93% of patients overall say testimonials are at least somewhat important to their decision-making process.

While testimonials can appear on several websites, including Facebook, Google Reviews, and Yelp, featuring positive reviews on your website is essential. Not including this crucial social proof may be why your medical site struggles to attract clients. 

Quick fix: Invest in reputation management for the long term, and create a link to a site where patients can leave reviews in the short term that you can email to them — ideally, automatically after appointments.

4. No investment in usability

Your medical practice website design matters, and a difficult-to-use website will push patients away. It can be helpful to ask patients about their experience using the site to find problem areas. But there are other key things to consider, too.

For example: 

  • Are the colors high-contrast and chosen to ensure colorblind patients can easily read the website? 
  • Is the text big enough to reduce eye strain, especially if you work with geriatric patients? 
  • Does the navigation menu make sense, and are the main links using clear, standardized titles (about, services, contact, etc.)? 
  • Is the content accessible for people who use screen readers, including descriptive alt text and descriptive linking?

Quick fix: Consider investing in a user experience (UX) design audit or asking for patient feedback to determine areas that could be improved. Some platforms have easy-to-use templates, such as Squarespace, Wix, or Tebra. You may also want to compare your site to competitors for more insight. 

5. No social media integration

There is another component of social proof beyond testimonials: social media. Your presence on social media can help prospective patients determine whether or not your practice is a good fit. 

Not only does social media show off your personality and expertise, but it can also act as a communication tool. Patients may choose to directly ask questions about your practice in the comments or messages of your posts, or they may recommend you to their friends and family. 

Add social media buttons to your website’s navigation bar or footer, and link to your website's homepage from your social profiles. ”

Practices that don’t have social media listed on their website run the risk of not looking as established or as credible as other physicians that link to their profiles. 

Quick fix: Add social media buttons to your website’s navigation bar or footer, and link to your website's homepage from your social profiles. Many website builders have a section to add your social media information, either through a link or your username on a specific platform. 

What makes a high-growth medical website?

In contrast, a high-growth website is completely centered around the patient experience. Not only do these sites show physician availability, offer detailed service descriptions, highlight positive reviews, and expedite navigation, but they may also have additional components.

Other features that patients can benefit from include:

  • Online payment options
  • Patient portals
  • Online intake forms
  • Blog articles that demonstrate expertise
  • Videos
  • Audio clips
  • Media appearances
  • FAQs about the office and patient visits

Your website is your practice’s virtual front door. A high-growth website reflects that importance. 

What do strong medical websites look like, numbers-wise?

Website performance varies from industry to industry and from sub-niche to sub-niche. But a report by Conductor established these average benchmarks for healthcare:

  • 46% of your website visitors should come from organic search results, such as through SEO initiatives.
  • The average bounce rate, or how many people leave your site without doing anything, should be around 50%.
  • Across all industries, visitors tend to open 5 pages on a given website on average before they click away. 

These are general averages based on healthcare as a whole. But these are metrics you can track once you set up analytics on your website

How good medical practice website design is done

You’ve decided it’s time to update your site and maybe use some of these best practices listed. But reading about high-performing websites is different than seeing them — it helps to have some inspiration. Check out these 10 great medical practice website design examples for elements to consider incorporating on your site.

Access the free report
Tebra recently surveyed 1,200+ people nationwide to get an inside look at how patients find and pick their doctors.
Discover how patients find and choose their doctors
Patient Perspectives Report

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75% of people look online to find a doctor. Patients take a critical look at web presence, online business profiles, and reviews when they decide to pick a health provider. Learn where your practice should be online in the 2023 Patient Perspectives report.

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Written by

Kelsey Ray Banerjee

Kelsey Ray Banerjee is a professional content writer in the healthcare, marketing, and finance space. She has worked in the back office of a psychiatric practice, and with family members working in mental health for 2 generations, she understands the challenges healthcare professionals face when it comes to marketing and admin. She believes access to efficient healthcare is essential for society’s well-being, and loves being able to write content that can positively impact a practice and its patients.

Written by

Lauren Wheeler, BCPA, MD

Dr. Lauren Wheeler, MD, BCPA, is a former family medicine physician who currently works as an independent healthcare advocate as well as a medical editor and writer. You can get in touch with her about anything writing or advocacy at her website

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