Saturday, May 04, 2013

The problem with Indian hospital websites


Most leading Indian corporate hospitals take pride in the world-class medical services they offer. They tom-tom the fact that they have state of the art technology and skilled doctors who offer extremely cost effective medical care . They boast that they perform advanced surgeries at a fraction of the cost which hospitals in the USA charge. While this is true, what amazes me is how much of a blind spot Indian hospitals have regarding their websites

While it’s true that may have exactly the same 128 slice MRI scanners and robotic surgery facilities which Mayo Clinic has, their websites are light years behind. The public face of a hospital is its website, and the websites of Indian hospitals are pathetic . While they are cleverly designed, their content leaves a lot to be desired because they flout the first rule of marketing !

While Indian hospital websites have lots of information about the hospital , they have precious little information about what the website visitor is interested in - information about his symptoms, his diagnosis; and his treatment options . This is the reason why even though there are so many millions of Indian patients online – and thousands of Indian hospitals have their own websites, these patients have to go to mayoclinic.com to get the information they need ! This is a huge wasted opportunity – and is especially ironic, considering the fact that India is considered to the IT powerhouse of the world.

Unfortunately, Indian hospitals are not leveraging this technological expertise in order to reach out to patients through their website. Perhaps this is because hospital CEOs feel that not many Indians have internet access, which is why they have not bothered to explore this channel.  This is extremely shortsighted. I'm sure most hospital CEOs will agree that when someone in their family falls ill, the first thing their wife done is a google search to find out more information about the problem . Isn’t it logical that the kind of affluential patients whom they want to attract will do exactly the same thing ? There are now over 200 million Indians who access the internet through their smartphones, and this number is increasing exponentially. These are high net worth individuals with deep pockets – exactly the kind of patient whom these corporate hospitals want to target !

The other problem is that CEOs feel that since we already have a website, then why do we need to bother about content ? Isn’t it enough that if patients do a search on Apollo Hospital, they will find us ? Yes, that’s true, but patients don’t do searches for the name of the hospital. They do searches on what is of interest to them – their symptoms or their disease !

Try doing a google search on keywords such as angioplasty; risks of bypass surgery ; or knee joint replacement. It’s quite disheartening to realize that Indian hospital websites rank very low on the google search page. Or try using Alexa.com to compare the web traffic which mayoclinic.com gets as compared to apollohospitals.com ! There’s absolutely no reason why the websites of Indian hospitals should not get more traffic than the websites of US hospitals – after all, they can do online marketing far less expensively than US hospitals  ! And what about the wasted opportunity for attracting medical tourists ?

Indian hospitals need to get up and realize that if they want to attract patients – both those from India and from the rest of the world, they need to improve the content on their sites. Most patients are online – and until hospitals get their act together and start providing the information which these patients want , they will lag behind and lose these patients to more digitally savvy hospitals . It’s high time Indian hospitals invested the money , time and energy it requires to create a world-class website !

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