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Healthcare providers are charged with the critical mission to first do no harm. Indeed, protecting the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of patients and their families is a sacred trust that all healthcare providers share.
And yet there are aspects of modern medical practice beyond the traditional prevention-diagnosis-treatment triad that also impact patients’ well-being. This includes the embracing of digital processes, standards, and practices that help to safeguard patient data while also enhancing patients’ quality of care.
More specifically, the effective use of SEO practices by healthcare providers can ensure that patients are able to find, and communicate with, the provider best suited to their needs. At the same time, maintaining rigorous cybersecurity standards across all domains of medical practice protects patients’ sensitive data from potential theft and exploitation.
Likewise, strong cybersecurity enables healthcare practices to expand the scope, variety, and quality of health services. This includes the ability to offer secure telehealth services across a range of digital platforms, from desktops to mobile devices.
This article examines the special considerations healthcare providers must keep in mind when it comes to both SEO and cybersecurity.
There can be no question that the success of any business, regardless of the industry, is increasingly determined by the quality of its digital presence. Now more than ever, consumers turn to the internet to research and engage with companies, comparing businesses’ digital presence to make their final purchasing decisions.
This is as true for consumers of healthcare services as it is for any other market demographic. Now more than ever, prospective patients and their families are looking to the web for a deep dive into the healthcare facilities and providers they are considering trusting with their health.
And that’s where effective SEO comes into play. Your practice may offer the most expansive services, state-of-the-art technology, and unparalleled care, but if your prospective patients don’t know about you, then it’s all moot.
And, without a robust SEO strategy for your healthcare practice in place, your facility’s website and other online pages will end up buried in a sea of search engine results pages (SERP). That means that your practice will never grow as rapidly or as much as it could. Just as importantly, it means that would-be patients will never enjoy the benefits of your care.
The good news, though, is that it’s not all that difficult to incorporate effective SEO into your practice’s marketing strategy. You just have to be committed, purposeful, and informed.
One of the best ways to improve your practice’s SEO strategy is to craft content that’s optimized for mobile devices as well as PCs and Mac. The goal is to ensure that the audience’s experience of your online content will be as strong when consumed on a mobile device as it is on a traditional computer.
This includes ensuring that any graphics, videos, or audio files are functional on mobile platforms, without a decrease in quality. When you optimize for mobile, you signal your practice’s interest in understanding and serving the particular needs of your target audience. That means, for instance, recognizing that consumers want engaging and high quality content that can be accessed from their smartphone or tablet anytime and anywhere.
One of the most promising developments in the practice of medicine today is the increasing role of digitalization in increasing healthcare access and overall quality of care.
For example, enormous volumes of patient data are now being securely stored in the cloud. This means that care providers can collect, share, and access the patient’s full medical history, including labs and scans, with the mere touch of a button. No more waiting for records to arrive by courier or, worse, flying blindly when diagnosing and treating an urgent issue.
The storing of patient data in the cloud also enhances care providers’ ability to leverage the tremendous power of telehealth, including remote patient monitoring devices. With cloud data storage, patients no longer have to visit a clinic or be hospitalized for clinical evaluation. Secure, at-home devices can continuously record and transmit the patient’s vital information to the cloud for the care provider’s evaluation at a later date.
This means that patients can receive a more accurate diagnosis based on more comprehensive and representative data. At the same time, they get to enjoy a more comfortable experience of care overall.
Despite the myriad advantages of using the cloud to store patient data, that does not mean that the practice is always and in every respect a positive thing. The very attributes that make the data accessible whenever and wherever they are needed can also put that sensitive information at risk.
And this is only one reason why it is so important for healthcare practices to maintain only the highest standards in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity practices in healthcare aren’t just about avoiding financial losses or protecting the practice’s brand.
Rigorous cybersecurity is necessary to protect patients against the potentially devastating and typically long-term impacts of a data breach. The exposure of patient data can, of course, put them at risk of identity theft. But perhaps even more importantly, it can also exact social, professional, and personal costs, particularly if a medical condition were disclosed to the wrong person or entity.
This is why implementing stringent cybersecurity practices is imperative across all business functions. At the very least, all systems should be protected with a firewall or virtual private network (VPN). Security patches and other updates must be performed as soon as they become available. And all employees, from administrative personnel to clinicians, must be continuously trained in and required to adhere to cybersecurity best practices at all times or face termination.
The practice of medicine is an awesome and sobering responsibility. But protecting patients’ wellbeing extends far beyond diagnosis and treatment. It also involves the effective and responsible use of technology, including the optimization of SEO and cybersecurity practices. This ensures that patients have access to the highest quality of care possible without having to worry that their sensitive personal information could be compromised through lax security.