Personal Medical Websites

I am a Doctor. Do I need my own web site?

The idea must be catching on. This week I have had three fellow medical practitioners ask me the pros and cons of creating a website for themselves. As my reply becomes more practiced I thought it time to document these discussions in the form of a blog post.

Having just taken a colleague from ground zero to the full Gmail/Google+/Blogger experience and all points between I realised that there is way way way too much content to put into a single article so over the next few weeks I intend to release a series of posts on this site covering a host of issues that come up repeatedly.

My opening words – the do-nots!

 The first thing I usually advise colleagues is to stop early attempts to ‘come up with something’  and spend some time thinking about exactly what they need not just from a web site, but all of the associated services that go with a web address these days. Colleagues you do not need a web designer at this stage, probably not at all in many of cases. You need time to get your own ideas in order, and maybe someone with which to discuss these.
If you fall into that category send me a message on Google plus and we can take it from there.
Things to think about include:
  • The web site itself.
    Size of articles, frequency of updates, intended audience etc.
    Who is going to write new content and be responsible for checking it?
    Intended audience is probably the most complex issue and will warrant it’s own post in due course.
  • Other digital resources:
    Video, documents, presentation slides
  • Communication:
    Email, Skype, Hangouts, Twitter
  • Social integration with larger groups
    National and international groups with which the doctor wishes to take part
  • Creation of social groups that the medical practitioner might wish to lead
    eg professional colleagues, patient groups, referrer base, continuing medical education providers.
Over the years I have created and guided the creation of medically oriented web sites on most of the major platforms including hard core html coding, Microsoft Frontpage, Dreamweaver, Blogger, WordPress, Joomla and my favourite for the large jobs: Drupal. Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses. Some integrate better than others with other web based services that you might wish to  use. Some of these platforms need to be hosted on servers with very specific and exacting technical characteristics. Choose the wrong platform or hosting service and waste huge amounts of time and effort. Such mistakes constitute vast sums of money thrown down the drain.
Time working out a broad strategic plan of where you want to go with this web stuff in your practice environment saves huge dividends and guides the next stage, planning for domain names and hosting environments.
I operate a small IT consultancy business – I can do all of this for you. But I dont usually need to!
My experience is that ‘designer driven medical sites’ cost a lot of money and tend to not become integrated with ones medical practice. They stand forlorn and forgotten as soon as the initial enthusiasm starts to wane. This is not true of the larger, complex multiuser content management systems – they need professional input big time right from the start. I am talking about the single practitioner or small group practice  My aim is that by the culmination of this series of posts, those of my colleagues who are interested and willing to give up a few hours of their own time, and investigate this whole area with me, will be able to create their own practice web sites that are personal, functional, practical and in the main free (yes free, no money, not spending thousands, zip, nothing!).
Yup, you can achieve entry level functionality for all of this to a professional standard using free tools and services. Only cost is usually the domain name and I can show you some tricks to even reduce that.
Till the next installment look out for for me online  – +Allan Palmer