Automated Marketing

The tools you need to increase patient engagement and outreach may already be part of your practice.
Automated Marketing

Aesthetic medicine has long been on the forefront of patient engagement—a concept now being embraced by the wider healthcare community. For years, medspas and cosmetic practices have used monthly newsletters, appointment reminders, follow-up thank you notes and social media to engage both existing and prospective patients—and software developers have taken note. Electronic health record (EHR) and practice management (PM) systems now include a variety of tools to help you track patient engagement and automate your communications. In addition, a growing number of third-party software providers have introduced additional tools that can be integrated with your existing EHR and PM systems. The only thing practices need to do is determine which communication efforts offer the most benefits—and are the best fit for their culture.

“Plastic surgeons kind of invented patient engagement,” says Andrew Rosenthal, MD, a plastic surgeon in Boynton Beach and Boca Raton, Florida, and medical director of plastic surgery for electronic health record provider Modernizing Medicine. “We want patients to interact with and be drawn to our practices. It started with sending monthly newsletters to everyone and now has become more and more refined.”

Targeted Marketing Tools

One of the key marketing benefits of incorporating electronic health records (EHR) and practice management (PM) software programs is they allow you to identify the demographics of your existing patient base and see which products and procedures they are purchasing. “The first step in creating a more loyal client base and attracting new patients is utilizing your software to track procedures and purchases,” says Alisha Rose Merlo, senior marketing director for ShoutMD and ShoutStore, part of ALPHAEON Corporation. “Virtually all EHR and PM systems allow you to run reports to see what patients are doing within your practice. This information helps you create more targeted marketing campaigns, and select products and equipment that will help you better serve your target base.”

These reports allow you to search your records through a variety of metrics, including procedures performed, date of most recent visit and—in more advanced systems—by patient interest or concern.

“Modernizing Medicine is in the process of launching ModMed Analytics, which allows you to analyze the structured data that you have within your EHR,” says Dr. Rosenthal. “You’ll be able to comb down and say, for example, ‘Who did I see in the past six months who is female, and had Botox and filler?’ ‘Who came in for a facelift consult, but only had Botox?’ This data can then be used to create very targeted email messages.”

Plastic surgeon Gregory A. Buford, MD, of Beauty by Buford in Englewood, Colorado, has moved increasingly toward targeted content marketing in his practice and has found that taking the time to identify specific subsets of patients and craft content that speaks directly to their concerns pays dividends. “The most important thing with any outreach campaign is to identify who you want to reach. Without that, you’re just throwing information out there blindly,” he says. “You need to know the age of the person you are speaking to, their gender, their ethnicity or range of ethnicities, their education level and what they want. Once you understand these things, you can identify a specific voice that speaks to them directly, and this is really critical.”

Once you run your reports and identify specific groups you’d like to target, your PM system—either out of the box or through customized add-ons—can be used to automatically send out targeted email blasts. Some systems allow you to load multiple email campaigns in advance, select a target group of patients from your EHR, and then pick a date on which each campaign will automatically mail out to those select patients.

Photo copyright Getty Images.