How to Improve Your Healthcare Association Online Community
Amid challenging times for the healthcare industry, associations play a vital role in providing a community for healthcare professionals. Concerns like misinformation, staffing shortages, and public fears over artificial intelligence have tested the healthcare sector in recent years. Associations offer the stability and support healthcare professionals need to continue serving their patients effectively during this uncertainty.
To keep your association relevant in today’s digital world, it’s essential to offer a user-friendly, educational, helpful website. With a strong web presence, you can foster an online community for healthcare professionals to access the resources and support they need at any time.
This guide will cover the following tips to strengthen your association’s online community:
- Offer discussion forums.
- Share member stories and testimonials.
- Provide an online directory.
- Create engaging interactive content.
- Spotlight event opportunities.
- Ask members for feedback.
According to Kanopi’s healthcare web design guide, an effective healthcare website is user-friendly, easy to navigate, secure, and accessible. Keep these elements in mind as you build the foundation for your online community.
1. Offer a discussion forum.
Being able to connect with other professionals in their field is one of the top reasons why new members join associations. One survey found that 30% of new members said they joined an association to socialize with others.
Your association may offer in-person social opportunities like lunches, events, or experiences. Make a similar effort to create online opportunities for members to interact via your website.
Your website can act as the primary hub for an online discussion forum where members can ask questions, share resources, and discuss relevant topics. Make the forum members-only by requiring members to sign in.
To keep the forum uncluttered and helpful, share a few posting guidelines, such as:
- Keep the content on-topic.
- Avoid posting any advertisements or requests for services.
- Keep conversations respectful and professional.
Then, have one of your staff members or volunteers moderate the forum daily to make sure it stays useful for members.
2. Share member stories.
Your members are accomplished individuals. They may conduct groundbreaking research, leverage innovative new healthcare technologies, or receive prestigious awards. Use your website to spotlight these members’ stories and achievements.
For example, you could create a blog series called “White Coat Wonders: Celebrating Member Achievements.” You could interview one member a week who has done something remarkable, whether they’ve won an award, achieved a research breakthrough, or started a new program. Include a photo of the member and a short Q&A. Be sure to also include information about different aspects of your association that the member is involved in, such as if they are involved in your board, a committee, or a special interest group.
Sharing member stories helps members get to know one another and instills a sense of community. It’s also a great way to show your members appreciation and acknowledge their contributions to your sector.
3. Provide an online directory.
A directory offers multiple benefits to members looking to get more involved in your association’s community. Members can use your directory to look up information about their fellow members for networking or mentorship purposes, allowing them to easily make new connections.
You can model your directory off of a typical hospital website directory. Allow each member to create an entry in the directory that shares information such as:
- Their name
- Profession/job title
- Where they work
- How long they’ve been a member
- How long they’ve worked in your industry
- Their accreditations
- Contact information
- Social media handles
Create an internal search function that allows members to filter your directory by profession, organization type, location, and other criteria. Work with a web developer as needed to ensure your directory has the right features and functionality for your association’s unique needs.
4. Create engaging interactive content.
Engaging content should be a cornerstone of your healthcare association’s website. Interesting, informative content will encourage members to return to your website again and again. It will also provide them with discussion materials to review with other members.
To keep your website fresh and engaging, incorporate interactive content like:
- A resource tab with videos, quizzes, and polls
- Multimedia blog posts with interactive charts, maps, or graphs
- Educational materials and courses that allow members to earn certifications
Post your new interactive blog posts in your discussion forum to increase readership and group discussions.
5. Spotlight event opportunities.
Events allow members to meet and interact face-to-face and form personal and professional bonds. Use your website’s event calendar and blog to share information about events such as:
- Networking nights
- Social events
- Advocacy events
- Volunteer events
- Fundraising opportunities (whether as a partnership with a nonprofit or to fundraise for your organization)
- Mentorship meetings
- Webinars or seminars
Many of these opportunities can take place online and in person, allowing members who live across the country to connect. For example, members could talk on a video call for mentorship meetings or tune into a livestreamed conference presentation. This can help all members feel connected, even if they don’t live close to your association’s headquarters.
6. Ask members for feedback.
Your online member community is ultimately meant to serve members’ interests. If something is not working for them, allow them to speak up and share their thoughts.
On your website, you might gather member feedback through the following channels:
- Online surveys and polls
- A suggestion box on your homepage
- Offering contact information for a staff member that members can reach out to with questions or concerns
Keep track of members’ individual responses in your association management system (AMS). According to Protech’s AMS guide, you can store information about members’ preferences in your AMS to reference in future outreach efforts and create a better experience for them.
For example, one member might express interest in your association’s virtual networking events. You can personally invite them to similar upcoming events to ensure they’re aware of new opportunities that align with their interests.
In addition to directly asking for feedback, you can analyze members’ engagement with your website through analytics tools like Google Analytics 4 (GA4). GA4 allows you to track the online member journey to understand the member experience and make changes that enhance engagement. For example, you can assess the primary sources that drive traffic to your website, the actions users take while they’re there, and what causes them to leave your site.
Review your analytics weekly or monthly to identify and correct any pain points in the user experience. This could include pages with a high bounce rate or forms with a high incompletion rate.
Community is essential to your association’s members. With these tips, you’ll be able to create a dynamic online community with multiple opportunities for members to get involved based on their interests and preferences. The online connections they form can translate into real personal and professional relationships that last a lifetime.
As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne helps create clarity around project needs, and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions.
Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her thoughtful web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew.
Amid challenging times for the healthcare industry, associations play a vital role in providing a community for healthcare professionals. Concerns like misinformation, staffing shortages, and…