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How to Engage Patients with Email Marketing

Tuesday, February 1st, 2022

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.

engage patients

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.

Events Marketing

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.

Omnichannel Marketing For Healthcare

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Omnichannel marketing is a relatively new strategy that can help healthcare marketers achieve success. Marketers need to leverage a variety of marketing tactics to reach and communicate with their patients. Omnichannel marketing involves the integration of digital channels and traditional media to provide a consistent and personalized experience across all channels to drive marketing success.

omnichannel marketing

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How to Determine Your Email Throughput Needs

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021

When designing an email infrastructure to send high volumes of email, you need to determine your email throughput needs. Throughput refers to how much data can be transferred within a specific time frame. It is a practical measure that is influenced by many factors including server power, network speeds, concurrent connections and more. This article will explain some of the factors that you can control to help you design an email sending infrastructure that fits your business needs.

email throughput

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Case Study: Securely Email Medical Laboratory Results to Patients

Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

Medical laboratories use LuxSci’s secure services to email lab test results to patients. Although medical laboratories are not always HIPAA Covered Entities themselves, they are Business Associates with hospitals and doctors who are required to abide by HIPAA. By the “transitive” nature of the HIPAA privacy laws, Business Associates must abide by HIPAA security and privacy standards, protect patient data, and ensure confidentiality.

email lab results

In order to send patients their results via email, these labs must use a HIPAA-compliant system that can send email to anyone with an email address. We work with labs to securely send Covid-19 test results, cancer screening results, and many other kinds of medical test results via email.

This post describes how one large medical lab uses LuxSci’s Secure High Volume Email sending service to safely deliver lab results to thousands of people every day.

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5 Email Open Rate And Click Tracking Caveats That Every Marketer Should Know

Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

Understanding your email open rates is critical for the long-term success of your marketing strategy. If you aren’t monitoring key metrics, you won’t know if your campaigns are effective. Reviewing KPIs regularly helps you understand how to tweak your strategy to meet your business goals.

While you are likely already tracking key metrics, you may not know that there are some caveats to the accuracy of email open rates and click tracking data. Understanding these caveats will help you properly interpret your results.

email open rates

1. Email Software Configuration May Lower Email Open Rates

You have no control over the email software that your recipients use or how they set it up. Some users will have their email client configured so that it will block images or HTML in their email content.

Users do this for security reasons or because they don’t want to be tracked. Either way, it’s bad news for the accuracy of your email open rate figures and click tracking data. Under normal circumstances, this type of data is collected via a beacon that is embedded in every email you send out. These beacons are tiny images that recipients don’t notice. They work by triggering a request for the image data from a server, which results in the server obtaining data about the recipient.

If a recipient blocks images or HTML, these beacons won’t load. This means that the tracking data isn’t collected by the server. Marketers will not have any insight into their activity. Even if the recipient does read the message, it won’t be included in email open rate figures. This results in email open rates that may in reality be slightly higher than your data shows.

2. Automatic Opens May Affect Your Email Open Rate

Some email programs may automatically open messages without user intervention. This can result in false positives. As a result, a user may be counted as having opened your email, when in reality it was just their software. These false positives will affect the accuracy of your email open rate, suggesting that the individual opened the message when they actually didn’t.

These false positives can be caused by some email filtering services which pre-load images to scan them for security purposes. Gmail has also been known to automatically pre-load images, affecting the accuracy of your email open rate.

3. Spam Filters May Affect Your Email Open Rate & Click Tracking

Some recipients may use spam filters that are configured to click email links to verify whether an email is safe. While this is great for protecting the recipient, it does pose a problem for email marketers. These automatic clicks from the spam filters may artificially inflate your email open and click rates.

If you look through your metrics, you may be able to determine which are automatic clicks caused by spam filters. If you see that multiple links are clicked in rapid succession, it is a solid indicator that the filter is scanning the email, rather than the recipient clicking a link themselves.

4. Certain Recipient Software May Prevent Collection of Email Open Rates & Click Tracking

Email client providers may offer protective measures that stop beacons from being able to collect metrics for the sender. The most prominent offering to do so is Apple’s Mail app, which began providing Mail Privacy Protection as part of iOS 15. This gives users the option to protect their email activity and prevent marketers from knowing when they open an email. It also masks their IP address, which stops their IP from being linked to their other online activity.

While many users may like this privacy feature, it does cause problems for email marketers. If more users opt-in to these privacy features, marketers may have to rely on metrics other than open rates.

5. VPNs May Cause Location Data To Be Inaccurate

As Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) become more popular, the accuracy of your location data may be affected. This is because VPNs allow users to spoof their locations. The data may indicate that a user is in Texas, but in reality, he or she could be in Vietnam using a Texas-based VPN server.

You need to be aware of this limitation when planning your email marketing strategy, and allow for the fact that your location-based targeting may not be 100 percent accurate.

How Can You Obtain Useful Metrics While Remaining HIPAA-Compliant?

While the above caveats complicate email open rate accuracy and click tracking for all marketers, those in the health sector face an even more complicated challenge. They need to be able to obtain useful data without violating HIPAA regulations.

Thankfully, LuxSci’s Secure Marketing tool is designed specifically for email marketing in the health industry. It offers features that allow you to measure your email open rates and click tracking, all while helping your organization meet its HIPAA compliance needs. Talk to us today to find out how Secure Marketing can help solve your business challenges.