3 Tools For Communicating With Patients
Practices all over the country are dealing with critical decisions to make: to stay open, to provide telehealth, or to close temporarily. Regardless of what your clinic must or chooses to do, it’s never been more important to communicate with your patients.
When it comes to your communication strategy, especially right now, it’s important to pick tactics and tools that will help you reach your patients on the right platform at the right time. While the message you’re sending is important, how you send that message can make all the difference on whether or not it ever even reaches your patient.
We spoke with acupuncturist and marketing expert, Michelle Grasek to get her take on what she thinks are the best tool for communicating with patients. Here are the three tools she suggested when planning your communication strategy:
Email marketing is the most basic form of communication you can send out to your patients. It takes little effort, you can target specific subsets of patients, and you can include a lot of information in one message or you can create an entire series of valuable information that prompts patients to take whatever action you’re asking them to do (also known as a call-to-action or CTA).
Grasek recommends sending an announcement email that lets your patients know what your clinic will be doing throughout the duration of COVID-19, especially if you’re temporarily closing or offering telehealth options. If you are switching to telehealth, Grasek says it’s extremely important to make sure you are clearly communicating the value you can still provide your patients without being able to touch them or use needles.
When you send your emails, the first thing your patients will see is your subject line. This is where you can clearly write why your patient should open this email now over the other several emails they may be bombarded with right now. Some people prefer to write something cute and catchy but Grasek prefers the more direct approach of writing exactly what the value of the email is. She also recommends personalizing your subject line so it stands out among the other emails in their inbox. Most email platforms provide the option to personalize your subject line, which will automatically populate their name for that email with toggled on.
While Grasek encourages emails to be personalized, she also notes that it’s important to keep your emails HIPAA compliant. Do not include any personal health information (PHI) in your emails — ever. For best practices on HIPAA-compliant email marketing, check out this article.
If you don’t have an email marketing platform yet, we recommend Constant Contact. Not only do we have a Constant Contact integration, they are also a HIPAA-compliant platform when used in conjunction with Unified Practice. Sign up now for a 60-day free trial, plus you can also get 30% off your first three months with code CTCT3030 (valid through June 30, 2020).
While you can send a mass message or target a specific group of patients, email marketing does leave room for emails to never be seen by some of your patients who would really find value from the information you’re sharing.
One way around that is through mass texting. Studies show that 90% of text messages are read within 3 seconds of them being delivered whereas emails can sometimes not be read for days or weeks. Grasek says sending a brief, informative text message could get through to more of your patients since so many emails about COVID-19 are going out right now.
Just like with your email marketing platform, it’s important to find a mass texting tool that is also HIPAA compliant. Grasek recommends checking out Total HIPAA to find the texting tool that’s right for you.
Since most platforms will likely have a character or word limit, text messaging is a great complementary tool to email marketing. Your message should be very short and to the point. For example, you may send a text saying “(Your clinic name) is now offering telehealth. Click here to learn more:” and include a link to a blog post on your website going into more detail about your new offering.
Leveraging your social media platforms is another great way to get your message across to a lot of people at once. Because of the ever-evolving nature of social media, this is also a great place to often repeat your core messaging.
While you’re not targeting a specific audience the same way you are with email and text messages, this is a great avenue for reaffirming your message and reminding your audience of your value to them with posts.
Repetition of your message is the foundation of marketing. The more you can show your patients your value in different ways, the more likely they are to perform whatever action you’re asking of them, so don’t be afraid to find different ways to write the same message to spread out over a week.
As you build your content and communication strategy, Grasek suggests taking it week-by-week to avoid feeling overwhelmed. For more marketing tips from Michelle Grasek follow her on Facebook or get 40% off with code UNIFIEDPRACTICE for one of her marketing courses.