Responsive Design isn’t new to the digital world – in fact, since being recommended by Google as the best strategy for mobile-optimized websites in 2012, it has become the gold standard of web design. However, in line with digital trends in the past, the healthcare industry is one of the last to be seeing this shift in adapting responsive design techniques to their websites.
Healthcare organizations, independent practices, and hospitals can be hesitant to redesign their websites to be responsive, as it can be a costly investment, with most just recently establishing their web presence within the past 5-10 years. With the rise in mobile users utilizing their smartphones, tablets, and other media devices to access healthcare information, search for providers, and read hospital reviews, responsive design and mobile access is extremely important in the changing landscape of healthcare marketing.
HealthCare.gov, the government’s Health Insurance Marketplace, which features a responsive website design, had 7.5 million users utilize the website to sign up for health insurance as of April 2014, exceeding their original expectations for engagement. More than one-fourth of these users signed up from mobile devices – that’s over 1.8 million people! Without a responsive design that allowed users to sign up from mobile devices, would HealthCare.gov have exceeded its original expectations? In my opinion, it is highly unlikely.
Responsive design is extremely important for healthcare organizations and practices to adapt because:
- Cost vs. ROI: Although the cost of redesigning a website to be responsive can be an investment for some practices, it is, in most cases, equal to or less than the cost of developing a standalone mobile application. It eliminates the need to update two websites simultaneously, as organizations would create separate, mobile-only versions of their websites that had less visual content, and served more as a landing page for mobile users. Making your current website responsive will ease costs associated with additional hours of work from your marketing agency by eliminating the need to update, troubleshoot, and maintain a separate mobile-only version of your website. Additionally, the increased compatibility with more mobile devices will increase the amount of users that will access your website.
- Eliminating The Need For Expensive Mobile Apps: Although the first point touched on this, mobile applications are becoming more and more of a wasted expense for healthcare providers. According to The Social Media Hat, “99% of apps only get used once. Unless your app does something amazing that no one else’s does, then the reality is that it will get downloaded, opened and forgotten about.” Is your practice realistically prepared to develop a mobile app that will outshine WebMD’s app? Odds are that it isn’t. A responsive website will cover the need for your practice to have a mobile online presence without the unnecessary cost of developing a standalone mobile application.
- Reach: According to CNN, as of February 2014, Americans use smartphones and tablets more than PC’s to access the Internet. 55% of American adults own smartphones, and 42% own tablets. As I mentioned earlier with HealthCare.gov, having a website that is responsive and mobile-friendly is key to reaching this significant portion of the market. Without this portion of the market, you limit the reach of your campaigns, which will also affect the efficiency of any marketing efforts, again coming back to your ROI.