January 5, 2017

8 Mistakes to Avoid with your Online Physician Directory

Physician directories are vitally important to every health care system.

They are:

  • Among the highest viewed pages on any hospital website
  • The first impression of your health system and physicians
  • Patient conversion vehicles

There are eight common mistakes made in physician directories. Once you know the mistakes, you can revise your directory to drive new patient acquisition.

The Top Eight Physician Directory Mistakes

1) Naming the Tool Something Other than “Find A Doctor”

Because prospective patients visit the site to learn more about potentially receiving care from your organization, the naming of the online directory should reflect the user need. A best practice is to include the Directory in the primary or global navigation of the site.

2) Requiring a Search Before Showing Any Doctor Results

Often, online directories require the user to narrow their search before they see any results. Showing the available doctors and providing search terms helps the user narrow their results. This creates a more effective and user friendly experience. This allows the user to see all potential doctors and control how the search is narrowed.

3) Not Having Individual Bio Pages for Each Doctor

Some online directories show search results in the form of a list of doctors’ names. But a best practice is to create a unique URL per doctor for their individual bio pages. This creates a space to showcase much more information about individual physicians. By not using unique URLs per doctor, it becomes very difficult for the user to share information about individual doctors – internally, through social media, in digital campaigns, between care givers or between potential patients.

4) “About/Bio” Content is Missing from the Bio Page

Many online directories have unique URLs per doctor, but miss the mark when they don’t help a prospective patient learn more than the basic facts about the doctor. Patients expect more information to help make their health care buying decision. Include a profile picture, relevant videos, publication listings, and patient testimonials.

Here are two examples of health systems that incorporate About and Bio pages:

Duke Health –

Martin Health –

5) Search Filters are too Broad or too Specific

In other words, no jargon. Use every day language. People who don’t work in health care don’t search for “Oncology”; they search for “cancer”.

6) Profile Images are Poor Quality or Nonexistent

Whether the docs wear lab coats or not or standing in front of the same blue backdrop depends on the branding and is dependent on the persona of your organization. And most of all…hi-res images are a must, especially because many of your audience are using iPhones and other tablets with high resolution displays that can magnify low quality images.

7) Not Offering a Way to Contact the Doctor or Hospital

Not providing a way for prospective patients to contact the doctor happens far more often than we would like to admit. And most often, only a phone number is listed in the directory. Listing only a phone number increases the communication barrier between the provider and the prospective patient; by prompting the user to make a call – instead of sending an email when they are already on a device. Given the user is searching the online directory, the suggested communication method should follow. Providing a phone number may not be convenient for the user, often, phone numbers put a patient into a phone tree. And the user may search the directory at a time when the phones are not being answered.

8) An “Advanced Search” Feature is not Available

The advanced search feature allows users to narrow their results as far as possible so they can select the best doctor for their needs. Not having this feature can allow for too many results to be shown to a user (based on the size of the online directory), and cause decision fatigue. An advanced search is great for people who want to narrow their search further and have a better idea of what they are exactly searching for. Not having an advanced search can keep the user at too high of a search level and can cause frustration by not allowing them to narrow their respective search effectively. It is also a great way for hospitals to label things in all of their quirky ways that satisfy internal political issues but allow the focus to be on usability with the basic search features.

Avoid these 8 common mistakes and immediately elevate your online physician directory.

Let us know if you’d like to learn more about how Franklin Street helps our clients design and implement effective physician directories that drive patient acquisition.