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Sunday, September 07, 2008

How to use email to imrove your bottom line.

While using email for medical type communication may be risky, email should be used in your office as it is a very powerful form of communication between your office and your patients. On top of that, you can use it to improve your bottom line.

Email is a cheap, actually free method to communicate with people. All that you need, lest you be considered a spammer, is to get the patient's permission, and that is easy to obtain. Just ask for it.

I have an email sign up form mixed in with the new patient demographic form, the ABN form, and the HIPAA form. Basically the email form explains what for and why I like to use email, and what types of information is not email appropriate, ie for protected health information. The majority of my patients sign it readily. In the past year or so I've added about 700 names to the list.

I use email to keep my patients informed about my practice. I think it works well for things such as:
  • Out-of-the-office alerts, eg vacations
  • Changes to office hours, such as Saturday or Evening hours
  • Events, such as the opening of another office or a prosate cancer walk, etc.
  • New additions to the office,such as doctors, staff members, etc
  • New procedures or diagnostic tests that are offered, such as urodynamics
  • Newsletter distribution
  • Warnings; for example to keep hydrated during a heat wave to avoid kidney stones, etc
  • When I have updates to the website that I'd like to share with patients
  • New policies/procedures in the office, such as e-prescribing, changes in insurance pars, online booking, online contact forms, etc
And others.

So how does this add to the profits I see. Easy. Every time I send an email to my patient base, I get a spike in new and follow-up patient business. Think about the psychology of people. You may have done a vasectomy on someone 2 years ago. He has since forgotten your name and even that he had a vasectomy and he probably does not know what a urologist does, aside for vasectomies. When his wife mentions to him that she has been suffering from incontinence, unless you are fresh in his mind and he has been informed about what you do in addition to vasectomies, he will be unlikely to refer his wife to you. For another example, let's say our vasectomy patient sees blood in his urine and gets flank pain and decides that he needs a urologist. Would it not be nice if he remembered you and called you instead of someone else? It may make the difference of who he calles if he had just received a recent email about a new doctor you hired or on an update to the website via his email.

And again, email communication costs nothing.

So try it out and just remember to BCC your patients instead of CC'ing them, for privacy reasons and unsubscribe people who request it.

Good luck and have fun.

The IU