A Fast Digital Front Door is a Better Patient Experience

Your digital front door begins with speed. Study after study proves that customers abandon slow-loading websites – a fact even more pronounced for mobile users. For healthcare networks, this means there’s a balancing act between features and functions and the fundamental need for performance.

Get a Diagnosis

The first stop in analyzing website speed is with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. It evaluates webpage content and provides suggestions for improving the speed of the site. PageSpeed Insights is simple to use – just enter the URL of the site to be analyzed and the tool kicks out field and lab data results, offers opportunities for increasing the site’s load time such as properly sizing images, and includes a diagnostics section.

Core Web Vitals – a bundle of performance metrics – are Google’s latest ranking signals, designed to measure how customers experience the speed, responsiveness, and visual stability of websites. The metrics include: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID) and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). How your healthcare website performs for metric is also highlighted with a simple scan using PageSpeed Insights.

The Chrome User Experience Report also provides insights into website performance using real-world data. Along with FCP data, the report includes Dom Content Load (DCL) which measures when the initial HTML document has completely loaded without including stylesheets, images and subframes load time.

Improving page speed

Tools like PageSpeed Insights and the Chrome User Experience Report help put data behind website performance improvements, but there a few areas of design basics that help a site optimize speed from the ground up.

  • Limit server requests such as redirects once a visitor arrives at the website. The idea is to keep the number of times the browser asks the server for more information to a minimum.
  • Keep website size down by carefully choosing which large images or optional plugins are included in the site design. This is particularly important when considering the mobile user experience and page speed.
  • Think about page layout and feature the most important content “above the fold” so users don’t have to scroll or otherwise navigate the site for important features such as search or links to key information.

Along with following basic best practices, the core framework the site is built on can impact performance. A proven framework to promote is AMP – a frontend component library to build customer-first experiences. AMP has foundational features to improve website performance such as: using a cache to get around slow servers, setting up size guardrails to keep large stylesheets from causing a slow-loading site, automating image handling, and because AMP sites are pre-fetched by Google, network traffic happens in the background. In summary, building a blazing-fast digital front door starts with adopting AMP.

Medical professionals innately understand the importance and value in speed in healthcare. The stakes are not the same, but website performance and speed is an important part your digital front door strategy. The online visitor has options and is impatient. A fast-loading experience is often the difference in an increasingly crowded marketplace, where care options are evolving to include same-day services, and telehealth.