People working together on website
First of all, if you have a medical practice and you want it to grow, you need a website.

Nearly 90 percent of Americans are on the Internet, and most of them use it to search for health information. That includes the elderly. According to a 2015 research study, for seniors (ages 67-78 years) who use the Internet, it was a “preferred source of health information.”

“When people research you that’s their first impression—your website. You want to make sure that you have a great one out there,” says Dr. Gretchen Campbell, a neurologist at KCA Neurology in Franklin, Tennessee. “It’s a lot easier now to do this than it was even six years ago. At a much lower price point too. There is no reason to not have a great, eye-catching website.”

To get started, follow these five steps.

1. Get a Domain Name

The first step in getting a website for your practice is choosing a Domain Name—this is your website address or URL. Most often, it will be your name (JoeSmithMD.com, for example) or the name of your practice (say, NorthernNeurologists.org).

You can search for available names on sites like NameCheap or GoDaddy and they typically cost less than $20 a year to register. It is a good idea to start searching for your name as soon as you know you want a website. Names can get snapped up quickly, and if you are just starting out, it may even influence the name you choose for your practice.

2. Choose a Website Platform

To run a website on the Internet, you will need to choose a kind of publishing software called a Content management system (CMS). While there are many to choose from, the three most common are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

One-quarter of all websites use WordPress. The second most popular, Joomla, is used by just under 3%, and Drupal comes in a close third.

3. Choose a Theme

Whether you choose WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, you next have to pick a theme to go with it. Each platform has hundreds if not thousands of themes to choose from, many of which are free.

WordPress includes a few free ones when installed, or you can choose another from their directory. A number of companies specialize in creating themes for the different platforms. Campbell says she chose hers from Elegant Themes. Another is MojoMarketplace.

“Some [themes] have e-commerce and some are more blog-related. There are different things that each one can do,” says Campbell. “I chose mine based on what I wanted it to look like and what I wanted it to do. There’s functionality and form, and they’re both quite important.”

4. Get a Coder

“Once you choose your theme, you have to get a coder,” says Campbell. “The learning curve is too steep to try that on your own.”

A coder is an expert in the CMS platform you choose. Using your theme, they will set up your website so that it looks good and works optimally.

CMS experts for WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are all over the Internet, but Campbell recommends you use your network to find one. “I found my coder because she was the wife of the vascular surgeon that I use,” she says.

5. Write the Content

Once the coder has set up the structure of your website, it is time to fill it in with your own content. This is all the information and images that are specific to you and your medical practice. You can outsource this, or you can do it yourself, as Campbell does.

“You want to post what’s relevant to what you do,” she says. “On my website, I have posts about multiple sclerosis and the basic questions that patients will have. They shouldn’t have to look all over the Internet. They should be able to come to you because you want to make yourself the local expert.”

Once you have all your information plugged into the site, and you are happy with the way it looks and feels, it is time to take it live (your coder will help you with this).

Remember, says Campbell, “Your website is your reputation. It is the first thing that people see. And they are going to to Google you, so you want to make sure that it looks fabulous.”

LINKS AND REFERENCES
Dr. Gretchen Campbell is a neurologist at KCA Neurology in Franklin, Tennessee http://kcaneurology.com/ practicing privately since 2008.

Dr. Campbell specializes in treating headaches, peripheral neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, seizures, dementia, and multiple sclerosis.

Nearly 90 % adults on the internet and most search for health: http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/health-fact-sheet/

2015 research study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296102/

NameCheap: https://www.namecheap.com/

GoDaddy: https://www.godaddy.com/domains/domain-name-search.aspx?isc=cjcdplink&iphoneview=1&cvosrc=affiliate.cj.530493

WordPress: https://wordpress.org/
WordPress stats: http://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_management/all/
Install WordPress: https://wordpress.org/download/
WordPress themes: https://wordpress.org/themes/

Joomla: http://www.joomla.org/
Drupal: https://www.drupal.org/

Elegant Themes: http://www.elegantthemes.com/
MojoMarketPlace Themes: https://www.mojomarketplace.com/themes/wordpress?utm_source=google&utm_medium=genericsearch