Models of online success

May 5, 2006

These websites combine appealing design, helpful content, andonline tools for patients, plus they're easy to use.

Creating a good practice website is a tall order. It's as challenging as creating a brick-and-mortar medical office that's both attractive and practical.

After scouring the Internet and reviewing dozens of practice websites, we came up with three worth emulating. They're virtual offices for medical groups that range from little to big: The three-doctor Northern Virginia Family Practice Associates in Alexandria; the 22-doctor Granite Medical in Quincy, MA; and the 80-doctor Bristol Park Medical Group in suburban Los Angeles.

All three websites score high in the four criteria we used for judging what's out there.

Helpful content: This includes ample patient education material, instructions on making appointments and paying bills, and physician bios.

Ease of use: Patients easily find what they're looking for and don't get lost.

Online services: Patients can do things like register online, request an appointment or a prescription refill, view lab results, or ask their doctor a question.

None of the three websites are homemade, which speaks to the need to hire a professional designer. "The web has matured as a cultural medium, so people have higher expectations," says New York pediatric otolaryngologist Michael Rothschild, who's written and spoken extensively about practice websites. "People tolerated crude sites in 1995, but in 2006, they know in a few seconds whether a site is professional or not."

To evaluate practice websites, we sought professional advice from computer consultant Rosemarie Nelson in Syracuse, NY, and practice management consultant Sarah Wiskerchen with KarenZupko & Associates in Chicago. Here's a look at key features of three websites that make the grade.

Bristol Park Medical Group
( http://www.bristolparkmed.com|~www.bristolparkmed.com)





































Northern Virginia Family Practice Associates
( http://www.nvafamilypractice.com|~www.nvafamilypractice.com)