Why Local Web Agencies Fail in Healthcare

Julie Ho

Julie Ho

Posted on November 30, 2015

web design & marketingEveryone can agree that the healthcare industry is a complicated ecosystem. A wide variety of physician payment models and a diverse range of medical specialties, each with unique needs, makes for tricky terrain to navigate.
It’s only logical that agencies servicing the healthcare industry for medical website design and marketing services would require experience and a deep understanding of the healthcare industry in order to effectively plan and execute a marketing campaign.
In the 12 years that we at Medical Web Experts have been in business, we’ve learned a few things about what it takes to succeed in the healthcare industry.

1. HIPAA Compliance

There is no such thing as HIPAA certification, and achieving HIPAA compliance is essentially about reasonably managing risk. Because technology standards and regulations change quickly, and HIPAA is an antiquated law, HIPAA can make very few specific technological recommendations.  
When designing websites for healthcare organizations, everything must be done with HIPAA compliance in mind. For many web agencies, HIPAA compliance has probably never even crossed their mind, and learning the practical application of HIPAA law for the sake of a few clients is not realistic. Both internal agency compliance and developing compliant processes for an agency’s clients takes years to accomplish.

2. Healthcare-Specific Design and Marketing

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Different specialties offer different services to different patients, and as such they have a need to project themselves in different ways. The marketing and design approaches for a primary care provider, for example, will be markedly different than a cardiologist’s; a primary care provider seeks new, self-referring patients, and thus their focus will be on lead generation. A cardiologist on the other hand, typically receives patients based on referrals from primary care physicians – making their online reputation and brand a priority. Most agencies lack the background, experience, and medical industry insight to customize web design and marketing campaigns to fit the needs of a particular specialty.

3. Avoiding Double Work

Because most agencies don’t come in equipped with the specialization to handle the obstacles discussed above, one of two scenarios usually plays out:

  • The client has to go into extreme detail in order to get the product they need, far above and beyond the information typically required to build websites and marketing campaigns.
  • The agency gets it wrong the first time, and must repeat the work as needed.

With such a steep learning curve, web agencies struggle to construct medical websites and marketing campaigns in an efficient manner. Medical Web Experts CEO John Deutsch says:

Time and again we get healthcare organizations who switch to us from their local design agencies. The websites they come in with are often very well-crafted and visually appealing, but are often lacking in core-functionality, HIPAA compliance, and practical application to the healthcare industry. It’s easy to be creative when you don’t have to worry about practicality.”

The healthcare industry is a highly specialized market which requires a specialized agency. Not all agencies have the experience and background to effectively and efficiently deal with these complexities, and often they end up falling short.


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