Forget Social Media: E-mail Your Patients

January 13, 2011

While there is a lot of excitement about the merits of social media, don’t forget the power of e-mail as a practice builder and efficiency tool. With e-mail, you and your staff can improve efficiency, maximize convenience, and, most importantly, build a bond between you and your patients.

While there is a lot of excitement about the merits of social media, don’t forget the power of e-mail as a practice builder and efficiency tool. With e-mail, you and your staff can improve efficiency, maximize convenience, and, most importantly, build a bond between you and your patients. 

Regular newsletters are a great way to brag about your practice. Newsletters should be sent regularly, but not obnoxiously, perhaps 2 to 4 times a year. Include information about new equipment, policy changes, insurance information, new doctors joining the practice, etc.

Don’t forget to include special events around the office; a staff member’s birthday, your docs volunteering time, special news regarding another patient (with permission, of course.).

Patients want to brag about their own doctors and be proud of the office. Newsletters are a great way to give them news about the practice. Remember the power of word of mouth!

Workflow efficiencies can NOT be overlooked. Having your staff communicate via e-mail is a great time saver and convenience to both staff and patients. No more busy signals, voicemail or “Muzak” while they are on hold.

Think about ways you could substitute e-mail for phone calls or regular mail. Appointment reminders, insurance changes, billing, etc.

For me, I ask my patients to e-mail me about questions they have about their treatment, as long as it is not an emergency. While this is not for all of you, I function better with e-mail.

Unlike a busy general practice, I get to know most of my patients as they either have chronic conditions (macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy) and are seen regularly, or emergent problems (retinal detachment) and are seen often. The point is: I generally know most of my active patients without requiring a chart.

I don’t have to document our conversation as the e-mail is automatically recorded. We can simply print and stick in the chart. Additional advantages are that it shows that I care and am willing to communicate.

Whether or not you will personally e-mail doesn’t matter. Your office should be emailing to some degree, and preferably, from a personal e-mail address.

E-mail is a timesaver and adds convenience, but most of all it shows that your practice is caring and willing to communicate. This will set you apart from your competitors.

You may not be ready for a Web page marketing campaign, but go ahead and think about e-mail.

This is part one of a series. Next week: E-mailing Your Referring Network and Docs.

(Editor's Note: For more information on e-mailling patients, including legal issues, be sure to see "E-mailing with Patients" from our January 2011 edition of Physicians Practice.)