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Is there an Ideal Patients & Visitors Layout?

Sandra Fancher

Sandra Fancher

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When crafting site infrastructures, there are usually a set of typical questions that arise during site planning. 

  • How to represent surgery and advancements in surgery when surgery is not the service? 
  • How do we talk about supporting services like labs, imaging, etc.? 
  • What is the best way to structure Patients and Visitors content? 

Today I’d like to dive into the last question on Patients and Visitors. While not every hospital and organization can fit the same model, there are some standard best practices. What follows are four key best practices I recommend including to effectively structure that content. 

1. List out all the amenities and services that are available to patients and visitors.  

A typical list would include topics like: 

  • Accessibility 
  • Cafeteria 
  • Events Calendar 
  • Getting Here 
  • Gift Shop 
  • Hotels and Lodging 
  • Insurance & Billing 
  • International Patients 
  • Maps & Directions 
  • Medical Records 
  • Parking 
  • Pharmacies 
  • Places to Eat 
  • Safety & Privacy 
  • Security 
  • Spiritual Care 
  • Transportation 
  • TV Channels and Internet Options 
  • Valet Parking 
  • Visiting Hours 
  • Visiting Policies 

Looking at a sampling list of this size makes it clear why organization is so crucial! 

2. Chart those amenities based on if it is helpful to the patient, visitor, or both.  

Most likely, you will find that it is helpful to both. For example, a spouse or parent may want to know what Internet options are available, same as the patient.  

3. Determine if information is custom to locations.  

If yes, the strategy needs to account for this. Will you make a global overall page and then individual pages at the location?  

4. Determine how to structure the information.  

Assuming many of your tasks were shared in the second exercise, you have determined that sorting under Patients and sorting under Visitors is not the most beneficial way as there is too much overlap. 

So what is the best way if audience type is not the best solution? 

There are two recommended structures: 

  1. Categories  
  2. Alphabetical Accordion 

Category-Based Navigation 

One of the best ways to define categories is card-sorting. Make a card, either digital or old-fashioned paper, and start grouping together. 

You might go with less categories like Mayo Clinic: 

  • All about appointments 
  • Planning for your trip 
  • While you’re here 

Or you might find you need additional categories to more easily drill down to the topics. Some common categories are: 

Insurance & billing 

  • Manage my Care 
  • Patient Portal 
  • Refill a Prescription 

Telehealth Options 

  • Video Visit 
  • Telephone Call 
  • Secure Messaging 
  • Remote Patient Monitoring 

Prepare for your visit 

  • Items to Bring 
  • What to Expect 
  • Services Within the Hospital 
  • Dining Options 
  • Banking & Money Services 
  • Gift Shop 

Maps & Directions 

  • Floor Maps 
  • Driving Directions 
  • Parking & Valet Services 

Support teams 

  • Spiritual Care 
  • Animal-Assisted Therapy 
  • LGBTQ+ 
  • Language & Interpretation 
  • Veteran Program 
  • International Patients 

Location-specific Amenities 

  • Dining and Cafes 
  • Maps and Parking Specific to the Location 
  • Hours if Different from Other Locations 

A word of caution on Where to Stay and Where to Eat. There are two considerations: 

  1. The list will need ongoing maintenance. 
  2. The visitor assumes you are endorsing those. We have heard many stories where families were dissatisfied with their experience at a local hotel or restaurant that was listed on a hospital website and it impacted the hospital experience. 

Instead, consider linking or embedding a Google Map to find services “Near Me”. Make sure to add a disclaimer under that link that you are not endorsing these businesses. 

As you begin your card-sorting, remember one guiding rule. It is best to not exceed nine categories. That is the upper limits of being able to easily consume the content. 

Alphabetical-Based Accordion 

Even within a category, you may choose to use an accordion. Accordions work best when you need to scan a large set of data and select a few to read more. Keep the headings short and the keyword at the beginning. 

What about the Navigation Label? 

Patients & Visitors is the most common. 

A few other examples: 

  • Your Visit 
  • Patient & Visitor Guide 

Regardless of your navigation label, don’t complicate your URL. There is no benefit to /patients-visitors. Keep it simple with just /patients or just /visitors. 

The above examples all perform well in testing. Keep it clear and simple and do not use internal language and your label should perform well. 

What else am I Missing? 

While factual information is important, remember to showcase your services and remind them why you. Focus on the benefit of the service, such as valet parking, patient massages, etc. 

Close with a marketing statement about you and testimonials or patient stories discussing the excellent care they received. 

Final tip: Your patient call center, your welcome desk, and other patient touchpoints are excellent sources of content that your patients and visitors need. Interview them and find out commonly asked questions. 

Keeping these four best practices in mind when crafting your Patients and Visitors page is one important step to your site’s infrastructure. We know that you may not have the time or in-house expertise to execute this efficiently. Consider a page audit by our talented team at Stamats. Our team is the right size to be your team-for-hire. Big enough that we have experts in every area to lean on (even if they aren’t on your project!), yet small enough that you don’t get lost among our other work. 

Ready to strategize? Contact us today for a free consultation. 

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