ASC Marketing 101 – Writing the Perfect Email

Posted Feb 16, 2024 under:

Create Your Email Strategy

Emails are one common way of getting in touch with your patients, but do you maximize this opportunity? Learn how to improve your email campaigns and writing process below.

ASC Marketing 101

Learn tips and tricks to take your patient communication strategy to the next level.

Welcome to ASC Marketing 101 by SCA Health. This series will focus on aspects of marketing that you or your center can enact to improve public perception and patient satisfaction.

Introduction

Emails are among the most substantial and reliable forms of communication healthcare providers have with patients. From appointment reminders to test results, satisfaction surveys, and confidential information, writing strong emails is crucial to maintaining an open line of communication.

However, getting your email to your patients and ensuring they open and read your message can be a struggle. Below are tips to help you ensure that your patients receive and fully understand your emails.

Why Emails?

Stanford University explains that the first-ever electronic mail sent between two computers was completed in 1971. As technology has evolved, the ease of sending emails, including the amount of data that can be included via files, photos, or other documents, has increased.

While research has suggested that younger generations, like Gen Z, prefer other means of communication, emails remain one of the most straightforward and most efficient means of providing necessary information to patients.

A Strong Headline

According to the Harvard Business Review, the average worker in America receives roughly 120 emails per day, not including spam emails. That’s 120 other pieces of information vying for your patient’s immediate attention. To ensure that patients see your email, it’s essential to give your message a strong headline.

One benefit of your email is that patients are more likely to open emails from healthcare providers than other marketing emails or spam that enter their inboxes. Depending on your objective, be it for sending post-visit information or more marketing-focused campaigns (ex: health observances such as Heart Health Month), you have a higher chance than most to have your email read by its intended audience. Paubox reports that the average open rate for healthcare-related email campaigns is 41.23%. Open rates vary amongst industries and objectives, but this number generally falls among the higher percentages.

A strong headline can be the difference between a patient opening and reading your message or simply moving it to the trash. Some keys for writing a solid headline include:

  • It’s short (4 words or less is ideal).
  • It has a call to action (This includes phrases such as “Read More” or “Act Now”).
  • The headline contains proper grammar.

Tools like SubjectLine can help ensure your headline is catchy and meets typical industry standards.

The Message

The body, or actual content in your email, can vary based on its purpose.

For example, marketing-based communications, such as patient education emails and updates on new service lines, can be used to connect with patients outside of clinical purposes. Remembering that these emails should never include protected health information or PHI is crucial. Any inclusion, even accidental, could put a center in violation.

Regardless of the content, however, some things to remember when writing patient emails include:

Use Headers in Your Email

Using headers, such as the one above, helps organize information into easy-to-read sections. While you hope that your recipients won’t simply skim through your email, it’s likely a portion of your audience will. Headers improve readability and increase the odds that the information you’re attempting to convey reaches its target.

Keep it Short

While it may seem counterintuitive to shorten your emails when working to provide information, shorter copy, and fewer words can help make sure that recipients read your message thoroughly. It may be difficult at first to decide what information is most important, but this process can increase open rates and create more informed patients.  

Include a Call-to-Action

As mentioned in a previous entry of this series, a call-to-action encourages readers to follow up after reading your email. This can include phrasing such as “Call Now” or “Learn More.”

Using these phrases at the end of your emails can provide a subtle nudge for a patient to contact your ASC and schedule an appointment or learn more about an important topic.

Remaining HIPAA Compliant

Being in the healthcare space brings with it increased risks and regulations, including HIPAA. When communicating with patients and sending sensitive information, you and your staff must take proper steps to protect valuable data.

Builtin.com outlines three crucial considerations when sending patient emails containing secure data:

Patients should be consulted before initiating email communications. This helps cover healthcare providers, including ASCs, and informs patients of potential communication soon. Builtin adds that should a patient contact a healthcare provider; it can be assumed that email communication consent is provided unless otherwise stated.

Established Authorized Users

“Ensure that emails containing PHI can only be accessed by authorized individuals, such as the patient, associated provider, and associated professionals tasked with managing patient PHI,” Builtin.com states. “Also, ensure emails include only the minimum amount of information necessary to communicate with the recipient.”

Use Email Encryption

Encryption can act as a safeguard against third-party retrieval of PHI.

“Encrypting e-PHI isn’t required by HIPPA if an alternative measure already accomplishes this for a covered entity, but it’s still a recommended feature when communicating via email,” Builtin says.

Sensitive patient data is one of the primary targets for cybercriminals, and taking steps to ensure data security is paramount for the safety of patients and ASCs alike.

Conclusion

Creating, implementing, and optimizing your center’s approach to email strategy can add yet another avenue to improve patient communications. One way to improve your strategy is by partnering with a healthcare-focused organization, like SCA Health, that can provide insight and guidance while ensuring you remain in compliance with HIPAA laws.  

Learn more about how SCA Health can help you by clicking here.

Check out more from the ASC Marketing 101 Series below:

Resources

Stanford University: https://cs.stanford.edu/people/eroberts/courses/soco/projects/1999-00/internet/email.html

SCA Health Insights Tab: https://insights.sca.health/insight/article/reaching-younger-patients

Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2019/01/how-to-spend-way-less-time-on-email-every-day

Paubox: https://www.paubox.com/blog/5-email-marketing-stats-for-healthcare-providers#:~:text=The%20average%20open%20rate%20for%20healthcare%2Drelated%20email%20campaigns%20is,range%20compared%20to%20other%20industries.

SubjectLine.com: https://subjectline.com/

SCA Health Insights Tab: https://insights.sca.health/insight/article/a-guide-to-responding-to-patient-reviews

Builtin.com: https://builtin.com/healthcare-technology/hipaa-compliant-email

SCA Health Insights Tab: https://insights.sca.health/insight/article/understanding-cyber-attack-vectors-in-healthcare

SCA Health: https://sca.heath

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