1. Provide sample email newsletters on your website
Prospective subscribers do not know what to expect in terms of the quality of content from email newsletters in the healthcare industry. Thus, it is important to share some samples of your previous email newsletters on your website to give them a try before they commit to subscribing.
2. Promote via your company’s social media pages
Many healthcare practices have Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram pages. By taking a multi-channel approach to promotion, you will likely reach and engage a larger audience increasing the chances of sign ups.
3. Add an Email Subscribe form on your website
There are many prospective patients who may visit your website but do not make an appointment with you while they do their research on Google. These may turn into future loyal patients if you provide them with additional value and they learn more about your practice through high quality and engaging content.
4. Add an opt-in checkbox to your Contact Us form
This is an easy way to potentially capture sign ups for email newsletters when a prospective or existing patient attempts to contact your practice via your Contact Us form.
5. Add posters and a paper sign sheet in your waiting room
One “old fashioned” way that often works that should not be ignored is to provide high quality engaging posters and paper sign up sheets in your waiting room. Ensure your front desk reception staff are aware of this and encourage them to also promote sign ups. Perhaps even provide some sweets or pens as an incentive!
6. Add a email list sign up form on your Facebook page
This is an easy way to have a permanent sign up form on your practice’s Facebook page, particularly as your Facebook likes grow over time.
7. Add a sign up button to all your team’s company email signature
This is an easy way to grow your list if some of your staff members tend to communicate with patients directly via email for non-sensitive health related matters.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org as we can help provide you with the relevant collateral, website code and information to assist you in implementing these tips!
CLINIC TO PATIENT COMMUNICATIONS (PART 5/5): Measuring the Impact of your E-mail Newsletter Campaigns
It is important to ensure that any marketing or communication campaign you implement at your practice can be tracked to achieve your business and clinical goals, and provide a feedback loop that allows you to learn and improve.
Using a popular e-mail customer relationship management (CRM) software such as MailChimp or Campaign Monitor enables to track patient engagement metrics such as open, click ,click to open, bounce and unsubscribe rates. This is a powerful benefit of using e-mail as a communication tool compared to printed printed collateral, social media and SMS. As the saying goes, “you can only manage what you measure”. There are also more advanced data analytics tools you can use with such software as you become confident with the basics.
In reference to e-mail newsletters, tracking metrics and data analytics help the newsletter producer or curator to modify the design and content to improve patient engagement. Key benefits of tracking metrics include but are not limited to:
There are many e-mail marketing benchmark reports you will be able to find online but for the purpose of keeping it simple, we will use the most recent reports from MailChimp and Campaign Monitor.
As a general guide to the healthcare services industry averages for 2019, review the latest e-mail benchmarking reports from MailChimp and Campaign Monitor through clicking on the hyperlinks as highlighted.
HealthAide’s data science team will also provide you with AI-powered data-driven insights from our aggregated data from the data we collect and analyse from all of our customers to assist in personalising the content, patient engagement, business performance and health outcomes. Insights will be specific to your patient demographic profile, type of clinic (GP vs allied health) and various other categories will be factored in. So far in our journey, we have consistently achieved e-mail marketing success rates significantly above industry average benchmarks. We have researched and market tested themed content with extensive digital media expert input, A/B split testing with the goal to optimise patient engagement and opening rates. This has been an ongoing and dynamic process as we continue to learn from our data analytics and pass on the benefits to our customers.
CLINIC TO PATIENT COMMUNICATIONS (PART 4/5): 7 key questions to consider when choosing an E-mail CRM
There are a large number of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software on the market you can choose from ranging from the very basic to enterprise level that perform functions more than just e-mail management such as automating workflows, multi-channel marketing and contact management. Some of the well known companies that provide end to end CRM solutions include Salesforce, Infusionsoft, Hubspot and Zoho.
For the purposes of this article, we will solely focus on e-mail CRM solutions and compare MailChimp and Campaign Monitor, as they are both compliant with HealthAide’s digital media and data analytics services, and are increasingly popular with healthcare practices.
1. Do you find it easy to use such as having a “drag and drop” interface?
Both MailChimp and Campaign Monitor have drag and drop interfaces for newsletter templates and campaigns which makes it very easy and quick to manage. Both solutions are simple and intuitive and you will likely get use to using them after playing very quickly.
2. Does it have newsletter templates that you feel are suitable for your patients?
MailChimp currently offers a wider and richer variety of newsletter templates and designs compared to Campaign Monitor. Both solutions offer design templates that are categorised by the type of e-mail you would like to send.
3. Does it have automated newsletter workflows that are suitable for your patients?
Both MailChimp Campaign Monitor offers two types of campaigns: a regular campaign or A/B test campaign, which allows you to conduct content and design experiments to track patient engagement.
4. Does it integrate with my practice management software?
MailChimp integrates with popular allied health practice management software while it does not integrate with popular GP practice management software at this stage. However, many practice management solutions allow users to filter consents and export e-mails. You will need to check with your software vendor to investigate how this can be done with your solution otherwise devise a manual workaround.
5. Does it integrate with your social media accounts?
Both MailChimp and Campaign Monitor allow you to share your newsletter campaigns on social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter which can help with your promotions and sign ups.
6. Does it have appropriate data analytics, segmentation and tracking tools?
Both have similar levels of data analytics, tracking and segmentation tools depending the pricing plan you decide to choose. At HealthAide, we can work with any level of data analytics from these two platforms as we aggregate the de-identified data and provide you with practical insights on what you can do to improve patient engagement and return on investment (ROI).
7. Is the pricing structure appropriate for your practice’s needs and size of e-mail list?
Campaign Monitor is slightly more expensive than MailChimp. Campaign Monitor starts at $9 per month for 2,500 emails. MailChimp offers a free plan for up to 2,000 emails but also note that no support is provided for the free plan.
In the next article, we will explore how to measure the impact of your email newsletter campaigns.
CLINIC TO PATIENT COMMUNICATIONS (PART 3/5): Assessing your practice’s workflow and what digital tools to use to grow your business
In short, if you are considering using digital tools in your practice, it is important to firstly conduct an audit of your business (non-clinical) and clinical workflows if you have not already done it.
According to the guide, information systems in General Practice fall into 3 main categories:
Traditionally, paper based processes such as print material, letters and posters have been used to support the above information flows but today, there are many digital tools that can substitute such processes. It is important to be aware that without thoughtful consideration and understanding of how your business operates, implementing some digital tools can unexpectedly increase costs, and others can reduce costs and increase revenue.
Questions you need to ask yourself when considering digital tools are:
For the purposes of this article, we will focus on e-mail as a communication tool which fits into 3 categories: sharing information, supporting patient decision making and facilitating expertise, education and care from a distance.
It is important to recognise that the RACGP advises that “E-mail is an efficient tool for internal and external communications. However, it is not recommended for transferring any clinical information such as patient test results. Communication with patients via electronic means must be conducted with particular regard to the privacy and confidentiality of the patient’s health information, since there is a higher risk of information inadvertently being seen by another person. It is also vital to ensure that practice business information is protected at all times.”.
There are clearly privacy and security risks associated with using unencrypted e-mail tools to communicate with patients, hence the focus here is what HealthAide is helping to facilitate - helping clinics share with their patient communities general patient education, health promotion and for content marketing purposes, not exchanging clinical sensitive information like test results and medical records.
Experts in non-related healthcare industries traditionally recommend “multi-channel marketing campaigns” which involve website updates, blogs, event promotions, postcards, social media, SMS and e-mail. Yes, this may be likely more effective as there are benefits including reaching to more customer touch points, varying channel preferences, and more data is collected but when operating a healthcare business, this approach poses significant challenges including:
Hence at HealthAide, we believe using e-mail as a starting point tool should be a priority to grow your business, as your existing happy patients is a great asset to leverage. It is best to focus on marketing to your existing patients rather than trying to generate new leads for many reasons including:
In the next article, we will go through popular e-mail CRM systems available in the market and how you can use these in your practice to grow your business.
CLINIC TO PATIENT COMMUNICATIONS (PART 2/5): 7 key questions on whether to use email or not with your patients
Q1: Are the current traditional methods you are using to communicate to your patients non-sensitive related information producing an ROI for your clinic?
It is important to do an audit on your administrative processes to determine what they currently do to communicate to patients regarding non-sensitive information such as the promotion of services, health alerts, health checks and general preventative health information.
Some of the popular ways include:
You need to ask yourself how you are objectively tracking the level of engagement and effectiveness of these campaigns, and how much time and costs are associated with producing such material and pushing it out, as well as weighing up the pros of cons of each ‘campaign’ you administer. Is it the best use of the time of your administrative staff to complete these tasks rather than focusing on higher priority tasks such as ensuring that the customer experience at your clinic is optimised.
Q2: Do you regularly collect patient email addresses?
In your patient registration forms either in paper form or via a technology such as an app or check in kiosk, often there is a field for email addresses, which is inputted by your administrative staff into your practice management system. Booking apps such as HealthEngine or HotDoc can also do this automatically if it is integrated with your practice management system. It is also critical to understand that you will need “implied” or “inferred” consent in compliance with with Spam Act 2003.
Q3: Have you considered asking your patients to see if they would be interested in email communications as a value add?
The quickest and most effective way of doing this is by adding an “Opt in” in your patient registration forms. An example of the content is:
“In compliance with the Spam Act (2003), I am providing consent to subscribe to the clinic’s e-mail periodic newsletter list which provides general health and injury prevention tips, updates on service offerings, special offers and advertising material. Circle NO to Opt-Out.”
From extensive testing in GP and allied health clinics, we have found that giving patients the choice of YES or NO is ineffective as it does not come across as you as a clinic thinks this service is useful to your patients - they do not know any better so they are more likely to say opt out if you are not encouraging it.
Q4: Are there unique and new services at your clinic that you want to promote that patients often are not aware of?
Often, allied health and other ancillary health services at your clinic are looking for new patients and being actively promoted by your clinic is greatly valued by them. Email promotions is an extremely cost effective way to show your ancillary service teams that you are doing your best to support them. It also can promote to your patients the breadth of convenient and valuable health services at your clinic, which can indirectly increase revenue for your doctors from care plan billings. You may even would like your allied health team to contribute specific content such as health tips or educational pieces related to their specialties, driving further traffic to your clinic.
Q5: Do you have FAQs that front desk staff are frustrated about as they need to them again and again?
We highly encourage that you speak to your front desk staff who often feel overwhelmed and overworked what can make their life easier. Are they getting frequent questions from patients that could be sent via an email newsletter for example, about opening hours of a specific health professional or after hour fees when they could be doing higher value tasks?
Q6: Do you want to modernise and improve the professional image of your clinic?
An email newsletter is a great way to show to your patients that you are forward thinking and innovative clinic, that you are always looking for new ideas and ways to improve patient experience and care.
Q7: Do you want to ensure your local community is continuously aware of the services you are offering as well as encourage healthy behaviours?
Having printouts can be carry a heavy administrative burden from researching and updating content, to printing and distributing the materials. An email newsletter is a great tool that can enable you to dynamically update information about your clinic, health alerts and preventative health information you would like your patients to view and trust.
The next article will be some insights on deciding what goals you have for using such email tools and what type of email newsletter you are interested in producing and sharing with your patients.
CLINIC TO PATIENT COMMUNICATIONS (PART 1/5): The most underused tool to communicate with your patients outside of the clinic
Whilst the government’s emphasis has been on provider to provider communication in healthcare such as the efforts to ditch the fax machine as well as the potential risks and breach of privacy laws utilising “unencrypted” email services such as Gmail and Hotmail, to send sensitive health information between providers, there has been one area that is often ignored - this is clinic to patient communications.
The traditional method for clinic to patient communication is the telephone, however clinics are increasingly leveraging SMS services for activities such as appointment reminders. Even though e-mailing is free while there is associated cost wth sending out each SMS, it is well known that SMS opening and response rates are extremely high compared to e-mail. This is as more people sometimes do not have e-mailing services active on their phones, particularly the older generation.
The following are 6 interesting key facts about SMS vs E-Mail:
Nonetheless, at HealthAide, we believe these statistics should not deter you away from considering e-mail as a tool to communicate to your patients outside the clinic - either for educational or commercial purposes, or a hybrid approach. This is because SMS also has its drawbacks which include:
Given these limitations, SMS can be effectively applied in healthcare for tasks such as:
Apart from the above use cases, e-mail can be used as a powerful and effective tool for other tasks such as:
The next second article of the 5 part series will provide some key practical tips and insights on how to determine whether e-mail could be a useful communication tool between your clinic and your patients.