" Transactional email Archives - LuxSci

Posts Tagged ‘Transactional email’

New Feature: Custom Bounce Domains

Tuesday, July 26th, 2022

LuxSci has introduced a new feature to improve reporting for bounced transactional and marketing messages. The new “Custom Bounce Domains” feature allows administrators to set a custom domain for bounce processing that will not break DMARC.

custom bounce domains

What is DMARC?

DMARC stands for Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance. It protects users from forged emails and instructs the email provider on what to do with messages that fail SPF or DKIM. Implementing DMARC is highly recommended to help stop suspicious messages from reaching inboxes.

Why Custom Bounce Domains are Needed

However, implementing SPF and DMARC records can sometimes cause issues for transactional and marketing messages. To understand why let’s look at how DMARC verifies SPF records.

The Return-Path specifies the email address where bounced email messages should be sent if there are unable to be delivered. It is usually the same domain as the sender’s email address. However, when sending marketing or transactional emails, the Return-Path email address is often different from the sender for various tracking and reporting reasons.

If the Return-Path address does not match the domain or subdomain used in the SPF record, it can cause DMARC to fail, and the bounced messages won’t be routed according to the pre-defined rules.

How to Implement Custom Bounce Domains

Now, our customers can create custom bounce domains to prevent DMARC from failing. To set it up, log in to your account and visit the Account Settings -> Email Custom Bounce Domains. Make sure that the “Bounce Processing” settings are enabled before altering the Custom Bounce Domain setting.

Before adding the new bounce domain to your account, you must create a new CNAME (like bounces.yourdomain.com) in the domain’s DNS settings that points to the new destination. At LuxSci, the default is “returnto.luxsci.com.” Once set up, return to the settings and add the new subdomain to specify the Return-Path. After this is enabled, emails will align with SPF for DMARC since the sender’s domain and Return-Path domain match.

Questions? Please contact our support team for more information on enabling these settings.

Collecting Patient-Reported Outcomes

Tuesday, June 28th, 2022

More healthcare organizations are searching for ways to improve patient outcomes while reducing costs. As the many in the industry are experimenting with value-based healthcare models, payers and providers need a way to measure the quality of care received to determine efficacy and provider reimbursement rates. Collecting patient-reported outcomes is one way to measure patients’ quality of care.

patient-repo

What is a Patient-Reported Outcome?

A patient-reported outcome (PRO) is any report of a patient’s health condition or status relating to symptoms, functionality, mental, social, and physical health from the patient’s perspective without an external interpretation by a healthcare professional.

Patient-reported health outcomes can relate to general health measures or the management of a chronic condition.

One possible application is following up with cancer patients after chemotherapy treatments. Within a few days of an infusion, a healthcare provider could send a survey to follow up on patient symptoms and responses to treatment. The patient (or caregiver) could complete the survey online. Then, the clinician can easily adjust their care plan depending on the responses. For example, suppose the chemotherapy triggers nausea, making it difficult for the patient to eat. In that case, the clinician could call in a prescription to help alleviate that symptom before the patient becomes dehydrated or malnourished and needs more intensive medical care.

Making it as easy as possible for patients to complete surveys is crucial to collecting patient-reported outcomes.

How to Measure Patient-Reported Outcomes

Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) are questionnaires and surveys that capture information about a patient’s health status and treatment goals. The surveys measure health at a single time and over a long period.

Studies have shown that collecting PROMs can result in an increased overall survival rate, improved quality of life, decreased emergency room visits, and hospitalizations. Collecting PROMs is not challenging to do and improves clinical outcomes.

How to Obtain Patient-Reported Outcomes?

It’s essential to have clear goals and KPIs when setting out to measure patient outcomes. Identifying clear goals will help providers design surveys that deliver relevant data. Asking too many questions can create an avalanche of irrelevant information and are less likely to be completed by patients. Instead, it’s essential to design short surveys that are easy for the patient to understand. Surveys that are easy to answer will yield the highest number of responses.

In addition, the survey delivery method matters. Administration can happen in many ways: mail, web/email, telephone, or even onsite. Patients should be presented with surveys in the methods that match their pre-stated preferences.

Administering questionnaires through the mail can be costly. Putting together a mailing requires administrative resources to collect patient addresses, send the questionnaires, monitor responses, and follow up on undeliverable mail. Telephone surveys create a similar administrative burden. They require staff to gather and verify patient phone numbers, call to administer the surveys and follow up with dropped, lost, or missed calls. All survey information must then be entered into a patient’s health record and reviewed by their healthcare provider before changes to their treatment plan can occur. This delay may make the survey data irrelevant.

Web-based or email questionnaires are often a better alternative. Email automation can trigger surveys at certain recovery milestones to reduce administrative burdens. Digitizing survey forms makes reviewing and syncing data with electronic health records easier. This allows providers to adjust care plans in response to patient needs quickly.

Benefits of Patient-Reported Outcomes

The primary goal of collecting patient-reported outcomes is to improve the patient’s health. PROMs allow healthcare providers to follow up with patients to prevent unnecessary hospitalizations, emergency visits, and readmissions.

By collecting PROMs, hospitals can increase capacity and reduce costs. A KLAS research report found that digital health monitoring programs reduced the number of emergency department visits by 25%, with a 38% reduction in hospital admissions, corresponding to a 17% decrease in costs.

Using patient-reported outcome measures can help healthcare systems administrators reach the quadruple aim of improving patient experiences and population health, reducing costs, and improving the experience of healthcare workers. Please contact us to learn more about how LuxSci can help collect patient-reported outcomes with our Secure Forms and Secure High Volume Email solutions.

Infrastructure Requirements for Marketing and Transactional Email

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

To design an appropriate email infrastructure, organizations must understand the types of emails they plan to send. Outside of regular business communications between colleagues, marketing and transactional emails are used to communicate externally with clients and customers. Although they are often lumped together, transactional and marketing emails serve different purposes and require different hardware configurations to successfully send emails with good deliverability.

marketing and transactional email

What are Marketing Emails?

Marketing emails primarily contain content intended for a commercial purpose, like advertisements, promotions, or other marketing messages. Marketing emails are sent to groups of contacts that are prospects or customers to influence them to make a purchase or take a commercial action.

Some examples of marketing emails include:

  • Customer newsletters
  • Promotional offers
  • Event invitations
  • Other types of sales communications

One significant difference between marketing and transactional emails is that recipients must explicitly opt-in to receive marketing emails. It is against CAN-SPAM rules to send unsolicited marketing emails to people who have not consented to receive them. The penalties for non-compliance can be quite severe. Always allow individuals to opt out of marketing emails to stay compliant.

What are Transactional Emails?

Transactional emails are messages that relate to previous interactions or commercial relationships with a company. Users trigger email sending by taking specific actions, and the emails contain only information that is critical and relevant to the recipient.

Examples of transactional emails include:

  • Transaction receipts
  • Order updates and shipping notifications
  • Password resets and security notifications
  • Appointment reminders
  • Review requests

Transactional emails facilitate an already agreed-upon transaction or update a customer about an ongoing transaction. Transactional messages are exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act, and recipients do not have to opt in to receive emails. For example, when someone orders a pair of sneakers online, the company does not need permission to email them when the order ships out.

How do I know if an email is a transactional or marketing message?

The email content determines whether a message is transactional or marketing. Some emails can contain both messages. We recommend asking three questions to ensure compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act:

  1. What is the primary purpose of the message?
  2. Whom is the message sent to?
  3. Is the content misleading or deceptive?

First, what is the primary reason for sending the message? If the purpose is to remind a client of their upcoming appointment, that should be evident. Organizations can include a marketing message (perhaps offering them a coupon to use on additional services at their appointment). Still, the subject line and main message should emphasize the upcoming appointment.

Secondly, is there an existing relationship between the organization and the recipient? Did the recipient willingly join a mailing list? Or purchase a product from the company? The answer, in combination with the purpose of the email, will identify what type of mailing this is.

Finally, do not try and launder marketing messages as transactional emails. Sending an email with a misleading subject line like “Your Order Status” containing little to no information about a recent order is not permitted by CAN-SPAM.

Infrastructure Requirements

Most organizations need to send both types of email. The email sending requirements for sending bulk marketing emails differ from transactional emails. Marketing emails are one message sent in bulk to a large list of recipients. For example, a list of previous customers is sent an email promotion announcing a sale on sandals. Sending one email to thousands of recipients at the same time requires different memory and CPU than messages sent on a one-to-one basis. It typically does not matter if the sandal promotion reaches the recipient’s inbox at 10:00 am or 10:15 am. The message contents are not seriously time-sensitive. In the case of a marketing email, sending volume is more important than sending speed.

On the contrary, transactional emails are sent on a one-to-one basis and can be highly time-sensitive. Emails like password resets and order confirmations must arrive in the recipient’s inbox immediately after submission. This requires a different server configuration from marketing emails because speed is more important than sending volume. Designing different server configurations for marketing and transactional email is highly recommended to achieve sending goals.

At LuxSci, we design custom server configurations to meet the volume and throughput requirements for organizations of any size.

HIPAA Requirements

Both marketing and transactional emails could fall under HIPAA regulations. Any communications that imply a relationship between a healthcare provider and a patient should be encrypted and follow HIPAA requirements. LuxSci provides both a Secure Email Marketing platform and Secure High Volume Email services to support the emailing requirements for HIPAA covered entities and their associates.

Contact LuxSci today to learn more about configuring an email infrastructure to support high volumes of marketing and transactional emails.

Using Secure Email APIs to Improve Operational Efficiency

Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

APIs are just one tool that organizations can use to streamline operations and automate processes. This article explains how secure email APIs can save time in healthcare communications.

secure email api

What is an API?

API is an acronym that stands for “Application Programming Interface.” APIs enable companies to open up their applications’ data and functionality to external third-party developers, business partners, and internal departments. They allow services and products to communicate and leverage each other’s data and functionality through a documented interface. APIs simplify app development by allowing applications to work together.

APIs help business and IT teams collaborate. One example is the Weather Underground API. If a smartwatch developer wanted to display the weather on the watch face, they could use the Weather Underground API to source current weather data and local forecasts. Application developers do not have to create an entirely new weather database and keep it updated. Instead, the API enables them to use the Weather Underground’s meteorological data in their application.

APIs enable information to flow both ways. The smartwatch can display Weather Underground forecasts, and the API can report data back to the Weather Underground. This functionality enables interoperability and data sharing.

Email APIs

An email API gives applications the ability to send emails and retrieve analytics. Email APIs are often used to send transactional emails from applications like CRMs, EHRs, and other databases. Trigger-based emails are ideal for sending with an email API. In this situation, emails are sent when pre-determined conditions are met. For example, an order confirmation is a transactional, trigger-based email. A person buys a product online, the transaction is processed, and an email is sent to the buyer with their transaction details. The email is sent automatically with an email API.

Benefits of Secure Email APIs

Imagine if it was an employee’s responsibility to create and send every order confirmation email. It would be completely overwhelming. Besides saving time, some of the main benefits of email APIs include:

      • Easy to use and implement
      • Cost savings
      • Email deliverability improvements
      • Email list management
      • Reporting and analytics functionality
      • Personalization and customization
      • Enterprise-grade security

How to Use Secure Email APIs to Improve Operational Efficiency

Healthcare organizations are under increasing pressure to improve the patient experience. Online shoppers expect to see those order confirmation emails within a few minutes of finalizing their orders. Healthcare consumers using online communication tools expect the same experience from their healthcare providers. By expediting and personalizing patient communications, APIs can help increase patient satisfaction.

Thanks to the introduction of electronic health records, healthcare organizations have access to more patient data than ever before. Developers can use secure email APIs to send timely, trigger-based emails from EHR platforms.

Some examples of the types of emails that healthcare providers can send using an email API include:

  • Welcome emails
  • Appointment reminders
  • Patient satisfaction surveys
  • Flu shot and vaccine reminders
  • Password resets and other transactional emails

It works like this: the developer creates the email templates in advance and the criteria for email sending. The email is automatically sent when the conditions are met. For example, a developer may trigger a welcome email to send when:

1) a new patient is added to the database and

2) their first appointment date is set.

Email APIs can also pull information from the patient record to personalize the email. The welcome email may include the patient’s name and the date of their first appointment.

Other than updating the patient record, office administrators do not need to take additional actions to send the email. The email API automatically sends customized emails when appropriate.

Security and Privacy Considerations

Of course, developers working with patient data should not ignore HIPAA. It is essential to choose a vendor that understands the requirements. Failing to follow proper protocols can put patient data at risk and lead to data breaches.

For developers looking to create their own HIPAA-compliant APIs, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has put together a helpful guide. LuxSci also has API developer documentation to help integrate applications with our secure email API.

Conclusion

Email APIs are an essential part of digital health transformation and interoperability. Healthcare organizations should explore how APIs can improve their workflows and improve efficiency. LuxSci provides HIPAA-compliant and secure email APIs with Secure High Volume Email Sending. Contact us today to learn more.

Increasing Operational Efficiency with Email Automation

Tuesday, April 12th, 2022

If you work in a busy healthcare practice, administrative tasks can create additional costs and barriers to care. Common communications like appointment reminders, billing statements, and other external messages take a lot of time to create and send. By automating these emails, it’s possible to increase operational efficiency and improve patient outcomes.

email automation

What is Email Automation?

Email automation allows organizations to automatically send emails based on pre-determined triggers or behaviors. Receipts, shipping notifications, password resets are all common types of automated transactional emails. The main message content is created in advance. Then, variables are used to insert custom information into the template automatically. Most importantly, the email is sent when a certain action is taken. Many people are familiar with automated emails in the form of receipts. For example, you make an online purchase and a receipt is automatically emailed to you with the exact details of your purchase. Next, we explore some examples for how email automation can increase operational efficiency in the healthcare system.

How Email Automation Works

There are many ways to utilize email automation to streamline patient communications. One example is appointment reminders. This is a good message to automate because:

  1. The message is generally the same for every recipient
  2. Variables can be used to customize the content: the patient’s name and the date/time of their appointment.
  3. There is a clear event to trigger the email (the date of the upcoming appointment).

Let’s look at an example of an appointment reminder email:

An administrator creates a template with the message content and layout. It may read something like: “Hi [patient name], This notice is to remind you of your upcoming appointment with Dr. Smith on [X date] at [X time]. Please call our office at 555-555-5555 if you need to reschedule.”

Next, connect the email program to a patient database, like an EHR or CRM. If properly integrated, it is possible to pull in the correct information to replace the variables (in brackets above) for the email recipient. For example, the if the email was sent to a patient named Jane Doe, the email program would pull in the correct details from her record to read: “Hi Jane Doe, This notice is to remind you of your upcoming appointment with Dr. Smith on May 2, 2022 at 1pm. Please call our office at 555-555-5555 if you need to reschedule.”

Finally, set up a trigger point to instruct the email program under what conditions to send the email. For an appointment reminder, the administrator may choose to send the email one week before the appointment, so the recipient has ample time to respond.

Once the template, variables, and trigger are set up, ongoing attention from office staff is not required. Each day appointment reminder emails will be sent out when the conditions of the trigger are met.

The Benefits of Email Automation

By automating common administrative email communications, it frees up staff time to focus on patients. Many healthcare providers still have staff members call patients to remind them of upcoming appointments. By automating this task, it streamlines operations and frees up staff time to focus on other tasks more directly tied to improving patient health outcomes. Using email (and/or text message) reminders can also help decrease no-show rates and reduce the costs of rescheduling.

Email automation is just one tool that can help streamline administrative workflows, provide cost savings, and improve the health outcomes of patients.

Don’t Forget HIPAA

Automated emails like appointment reminders, billing messages, and test results all contain ePHI and must be protected under HIPAA guidelines. Review our HIPAA guidelines for email and take steps to secure systems before starting to automate and send transactional emails containing ePHI.

Get Started with Email Automation

To get started, there are a few internal questions that need to be answered.

First, identify the data source- do you have a database or EHR that contains the information needed to trigger and personalize email messages? Next, how will these emails be sent? Do you have an email marketing platform with automation capabilities? Finally, how will these messages be secured?

Once these questions are answered, LuxSci’s Secure High Volume Email service can help securely scale your operations. Contact us if you are interested in learning more about automating email workflows for your healthcare practice.