Lesson 19 – Use patient education to retain patients

Retaining a patient for life is much easier than getting a new patient in your office. How do you stay in touch with your patient regularly while adding value to their lives? Leverage patient education emails and SMS to achieve the same.

The is part of a series of lessons in our medical marketing course. For the entire course, please check out our medical marketing lessons.

Patients are educated consumers now. They shop around and each day that you are not in touch with your patients, you run the risk of your competitor marketing to them better than you do. Retaining a patient for life is much easier than getting a new patient in your office.

A lot of issues associated with patient adherence to treatment plans stem from the lack of patient education. Patient education is the practice of informing patients about their health, wellness, treatment plans, potential outcomes, and other information critical to the patient experience.

How do you stay in touch with your patient regularly while adding value to their lives?

  1. Prepare patient education materials

    Invest some time, effort and money into patient education. This also has added side benefits of patients being more involved in their own care.. Thereby adding to additional preventive appointments your existing patients make with your practice.

    Patient education can be done by following ways – and none of them are very difficult to do. The best part is that whatever content you do end up creating for this exercise, can be reused on your practice’s website as well – thereby contributing to your practice growth even more.

  2. Leverage free teaching tools

    Start by preparing free teaching tools organized by each clinical topic and upload either to the patient portal or on your website.

  3. Leverage online libraries

    Next step is to provide access to patients to help find the best possible treatment and gain real knowledge.

    If you do not have time to create patient education materials, you can leverage online libraries such as ‘iHealthSpot’, ‘Krames online’, that include a library of award-winning patient education related to your specialty. You can license the library for a small setup fee or monthly licensing fee and make it available on your websites.

    If you end up licensing the content, be aware of the distribution fees / agreement from these content providers as well.

  4. Leverage social media (understand them well)

    You can very easily use tools such as informational brochures or other printed materials, Podcasts, YouTube videos, Videos or DVDs, PowerPoint presentations, Posters or charts, models or props, group classes, trained peer educators to achieve the same results as well. The HUGE benefit of doing these is that not only do they help with patient education, but they directly contribute to your practice’s reputation and credibility as well. This in turn, markets your practice beyond what you can personally do, plus generates new patient appointments from your existing patients (or patients they refer to your practice).

  5. Prepare regular touchpoints with patients

    You can also send regular newsletters via the patient portal for the patient to stay up to date with their healthcare.

    Sending regular newsletters is VERY simple as well and the same goes with sending regular SMS.

    This way, you can leverage patient education emails and SMS to achieve the same. Not only will that help you retain patients for life, it will also help you create patients that are more engaged in their own health.

  6. Decide on schedule

    Decide on a schedule (weekly, monthly, quarterly) that you would send out patient education materials

  7. Gather patient data on schedule

    Download patient data from your EMR along with their diagnosis code (from last visit) to categorize the patient. You don’t want to send irrelevant patient education materials.

  8. Segment patients

    Segment your patients based on their last visit’s diagnosis code and map them to the educational articles they should receive (you would have to collaborate with your providers to do so).

  9. Use an email marketing tool

    Use an email marketing tool (e.g. sendgrid or mailchimp or constantcontact) to send out patient education materials.

  10. Use SMS to improve open rates and route patients to your website / library

    If you want to use a patient SMS texting tool, make sure that you upload the PDF or video (education materials) on your website first. Then, copy that link and use the SMS texting tool to send out an email blast to patients.

  11. Use some kind of CRM please

    Over time, you are going to invariably need a healthcare CRM to keep track of what you are doing, however, you can very easily start with simple spreadsheets.

    If you want to take the next (more advanced step), you need to start monitoring how many patients are actually clicking on the link you send them (but that’s a topic for another day). For now, you can rely on the statistics that your email provider shares with you.

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