By now, developing a mobile site for your hospital is something you’ve probably considered, if you haven’t already started developing one.
If you’ve looked at the trends and growth of visitors coming from a mobile device to your main site, most likely you’ve seen a steady increase.
According to the Pew Internet Project, 35% of American adults own smartphones
, which means that one third of American adults have a portal into your hospital’s organization from a mobile device.
If you haven’t gone mobile yet for your hospital and are thinking about doing so, here is a brief guide of things to keep in mind.
Goals for Your Mobile Site
Your overall goal for a hospital mobile site should be to get a site up that has the basics, without any delays. You can always expand and add more interactive features to your mobile site as time goes by.
Starting small when beginning your first hospital mobile site allows for the opportunity to track visitors and evaluate the site’s usage. This is extremely helpful when determining how much budget you have and what resources you should budget for, going forward.
Starting small generally means to provide users with the basic information that they are looking for, urgently, at a critical point. From a mobile perspective, this may consist of the following features:
- Find a Physician
- News and Events
- Location and Maps
- Patient and Visitor Information (hours, parking, etc.)
- Contact Information (address, phone numbers, etc.)
If you don’t have a mobile site or don’t start small, then it’s hard to really judge what kind of usage it’s going to get, therefore you may not be prepared to budget accordingly.
“Just like with any other communication effort you put forth, you should base your budget and your available resources on data of what is working and what is not working with your site,” advises AVID Design Executive Officer Tom Brand.
Building a Mobile Site
Most hospitals don’t have all the resources and budget to create a robust mobile site right out of the gate. You don’t have to break the bank or wait several months to launch a mobile site if you stick to key content that people need at a point of urgency, when they’re away from the computer.
Similar to when you launch your hospital’s main Website, you shouldn’t consider it being complete right then and there, it too, is an ongoing process where you may have short term needs of getting specific content up (see bulleted list above) and long term goals of expanding that content.
Long term goals are more transactional and interactive. These often pull real-time data and require more technology and development to work. These can include:
- ER/ED Wait Times
- Hospital Wayfinding
In most cases you may be able to deploy your mobile site alongside your existing content management system (CMS) using the same technology. However, if that technology has become cumbersome, even a basic HTML Website can suffice.
Mobile Content Usability & Optimization
Typically, most people don’t utilize their mobile device to browse Web pages just for general research, especially in healthcare.
Since the Web is all about content, and even more important on a mobile device due to its smaller screen size, limited space and sometimes slower connection, it needs to be understood that patients and users are coming to your mobile site for information they can quickly access in a pinch, which is what we mean by the term “point of urgency.”
Here is a simple list of DOs and DON’Ts to follow as you plan your content for your mobile site:
Don’t mirror your mobile site to that of your main site.
Do offer a link to view the full site because some mobile devices are capable of browsing your whole site. Also, it’s a good idea to give your users options if they should want to view the full site.
Don’t clutter your mobile site with heavy text .
Do include easy to read, scannable content that the user wants at a point of urgency.
Don’t use Flash for videos.
Do use video encoded for mobile if you include videos on your mobile site. Not all mobile devices can view a Flash player.
Don’t go overboard with graphics.
Do design your pages with minimal graphics so loading time doesn’t become a problem.
Don’t cram information into a small window.
Do make text bigger and buttons large enough to click so users can navigate through your mobile site easier.
Don’t wait to create and launch a mobile site for your hospital or healthcare system.
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