In my personal opinion, yes, undoubtedly. Any laboratory that has users outwith its institution should have a public website. And because I define laboratory users as comprising both the test requestors and the patients, this means that virtually every laboratory has users outwith the confines of its parent institution.
Why do clinical microbiology laboratories need websites?
I think microbiology laboratories (and all laboratories for that matter) need a website for three key reasons:
- Communication: Letting users know about changes in laboratory protocol, new tests, latest information on outbreaks etc.
- Information: e.g. Current key staff members, operating hours, collection centres, test lists including which tests are sent away, sample collection protocols
- As a portal for users to contact the laboratory and to feedback any comments about the laboratory service.
Obviously clinical microbiology can be a sub-section of a larger laboratory website which covers all the disciplines.
Websites are so ridiculously easy to set up and maintain these days that anyone can do it (I am living proof of this….), so all clinical microbiology laboratories should at least be thinking about it.
The other key message here is that it is not enough just to set it up and leave it. This is what I call a static website. Websites that are updated from time to time with new information makes it more interesting to the viewer and helps to build relationships up between the laboratory and its users.