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Posts Tagged ‘Transactional email’

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.

Should You Integrate Secure Email Sending with an EMR or EHR?

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

Email is the preferred medium for business communications. Although those in the healthcare industry face restrictions on how they can use email, it is a powerful tool if properly secured. By integrating secure email with an EMR or EHR system, healthcare organizations can automate communications to maximize efficiency.

integrate secure email

What Are EMRs and EHRs?

Electronic medical records (EMRs) are digitized versions of medical records. EMRs are sometimes referred to as electronic health records (EHRs). Even though these terms are often used interchangeably, there are slight distinctions between them.

Let’s start with electronic medical records. EMRs are essentially electronic versions of patient charts. They record a patient’s medical history and treatments at one hospital or practice. EMRs tend to stay at the practice, even if a patient switches to a new provider.

In contrast, EHRs contain a record of a patient’s medical history and treatment. They are long-term records that offer insight into a patient’s health, following them as they seek healthcare from different providers. EHRs are designed for information sharing. They help facilitate care when patients visit new clinics or hospitals.

Simply put, an EMR or EHR is the system used to manage or process these respective types of health records. Both EMRs and EHRs come with many of the same benefits and downsides as other forms of digitized information. The data is easier to find, access, and share, which can help speed up medical treatment and improve care. However, if the right data protection mechanisms aren’t in place, EHRs and EMRs are susceptible to data breaches and violations of privacy.

Why Integrate Secure Email with your EMR or EHR?

One of the main advantages of integrating secure email with an EMR or EHR is the ability to automate communications. Actions taken in the EMR can trigger email sequences. For example, an upcoming appointment can trigger an appointment reminder email. It requires no effort on the part of the office staff to send the email or make a phone call. The IT or marketing team simply creates the email template language and uses dynamic variables to personalize each email with the patient’s name, appointment date, and time.

If an organization integrates secure email with its EMR or EHR systems, they can set up automatic emails for a wide range of actions. Whenever there is relevant activity or an update on a patient’s chart, emails can be sent off without having to lift a finger. Some examples of emails that can be triggered by EMR activity include:

  • a request for a review post-appointment
  • follow up information on lab work or scheduling testing
  • flu shot or other vaccine reminders
  • password resets to access EHR

Ultimately, integrating secure transactional email with an EMR makes it easy to promote the organization and increase patient satisfaction. In addition, automating email workflows decreases the administrative burden on office staff without sacrificing the patient experience.

The Risks of Integrating Secure Email with an EMR or EHR 

It’s extremely important to select the right provider to integrate secure emails with an EMR or EHR. The HIPAA laws that govern medical records are stringent, and organizations face serious repercussions for violating them. The provider must comply with HIPAA regulations and encrypt outgoing emails that contain protected health information.

All encryption is not equal. A secure email provider like LuxSci allows users to choose the appropriate type of encryption to suit their email use cases. TLS encryption, which allows recipients to read encrypted emails directly in their inboxes, is appropriate for emailed appointment reminders, but is not suitable for something like lab or test results. Choose a provider who can meet your encryption needs.

Another factor to consider is desired sending rate. Many email providers use shared cloud servers which limit how quickly emails can be sent from an EMR. However, for emails that are time-sensitive, this can be an issue. Using a dedicated server configuration separate from the office’s regular day-to-day email sending has performance and security benefits. Improve your security posture by keeping EMR or EHR data isolated from other customers of your email provider. Learn more: Dedicated Server Benefits: How They Improve Security and Reliability.

Conclusion

Despite these challenges, services like LuxSci’s HIPAA-compliant Secure High Volume Email are specifically designed to help navigate the complex intersections of the regulations and transactional email sending. Our dedicated email solutions are custom-designed to meet our client’s sending needs while adhering to HIPAA requirements.

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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