How to Engage Patients with Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to communicate with patients. However, health care providers have long avoided it because of HIPAA concerns. In this article, we will provide a few examples of how to use email marketing to engage patients and increase ROI.
Don’t Forget About HIPAA!
A quick reminder- the following use cases assume that an organization is utilizing a HIPAA-compliant email marketing platform. Most major email marketing platforms (like Mailchimp and Constant Contact) cannot encrypt outgoing emails and are not HIPAA-compliant. Do not upload ePHI to a marketing platform without first signing a Business Associate Agreement and thoroughly vetting the vendor. Just because a vendor will sign a BAA, it does not mean including sensitive data in emails is permitted. Choosing a platform designed for HIPAA compliance (like LuxSci’s Secure Marketing) is highly recommended to help reduce risks.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s dive into some examples of how ePHI can be utilized in email marketing campaigns to improve patient engagement.
Provider and Network Changes
Changing a healthcare provider can be a tedious task. Instead of relying on staff to call and mail notices to affected patients, use email marketing to engage patients. Suppose Dr. Smith is retiring, and a practice needs to inform his patients of the upcoming change. Using email is a highly effective way to do so. First, create a segment of Dr. Smith’s patients and send an email to them with directions on how to choose a new provider. Marketers could further segment this list by using the patient’s insurance and offering suggestions of new providers who are in-network and are accepting new patients. By making it as easy as possible for Dr. Smith’s patients to continue care, it increases retention and keeps patients satisfied.
In a similar vein, when a new provider joins the practice, an organization can email all their current patients who are without a provider to encourage them to come in and seek care.
Almost every health care system offers events that are specifically targeted to different patient populations. Some examples include parenting classes for new moms, nutrition classes for diabetics, and cancer support groups. When using a HIPAA-compliant email marketing program, an organization can use health care data to target these patient populations with personalized marketing messages to increase enrollment and engagement.
For example, let’s imagine that a healthcare organization is running a series of classes for new moms. To promote the classes, the marketing team can get a list of currently pregnant patients and send them emails about the upcoming series. Since these emails are highly relevant to this specific user group, it’s likely the campaign will perform well and increase enrollment. If this email was sent to the entire company email list, it may annoy patients who do not fall into this category, and many would unsubscribe. By only sending emails to relevant groups, it keeps patients interested rather than irritated by marketing messages.
Address Care Gaps
HIPAA-compliant email marketing can also be used to encourage vulnerable populations to seek follow up care. One campaign type is screening reminders. Many screenings are recommended when certain age and demographic criteria are met. For example, mammograms are recommended when women reach their 40s. An organization could use email marketing to target patients who meet the demographic criteria with information about how to schedule their screening. It’s also possible to exclude women who have already had their mammogram. These highly targeted mailings can automate processes and improve patient health outcomes.
In addition, organizations can create campaigns in different languages to expand outreach efforts to marginalized patient populations. The possibilities for personalization are endless. Sending highly relevant and personalized email campaigns is a surefire way to engage patients.
Conduct Surveys and Gather Feedback
Using a HIPAA-compliant email marketing platform makes it easy to test messaging to increase response rates. Improving patient satisfaction is important to improve reimbursement rates from insurance companies and the federal government. Understanding areas to improve can help organizations deliver a better patient experience and increase profit.
Conclusion: Engage Patients with Email Marketing
These are just a few ways that health care systems can increase patient engagement with HIPAA-compliant email marketing. Healthcare organizations have access to troves of data that can be used to create highly relevant marketing campaigns. However, it’s extremely important to keep sensitive data protected. To successfully and securely engage patients without running afoul of HIPAA regulations, use a HIPAA-compliant email marketing platform.