Physician Dr. Sonia Henry recently published an article, on http://kevinmd.com, titled Doctors: Don’t lose your humanity, in which she discusses how important it is for professionals in the medical field to retain their humanity.
As Dr. Henry states:
“A doctor without feeling is a canvas without a painting – the day we lose our ability to engage with our emotional responses to difficult situations is the day we lose our patients, even the ones who are still alive.”
Long before technology entered the fray, doctors risked losing that human-to-human interaction that’s needed in the medical field. But as technology has become prevalent in the field, it’s easier now, more than ever, for doctors to “lose their humanity” and forget that the people they’re dealing with are more than just patients.
Apps. Computer screens. Tablets. These devices and software are intended to improve the efficiency of the healthcare field, not dehumanize it.
Yet dehumanization is exactly what we risk unless we find ways to regain that doctor-patient relationship. This doesn’t mean foregoing technology; rather, it means finding ways to use technology to make the medical industry more personal.
That’s why marketing automation is so effective. Not only can it help your practice stay in-touch with your patients, but it can do so with very little effort on your part.
Improving your patient relationships with marketing automation
Unlike a retail business or another type of brand, patients actually wantto hear from, and know more about, the people in charge of their health. It’s far more welcoming for a patient to come see a doctor whom they feel they know, rather than a stranger they only hear from once a year or during a health scare.
With marketing automation, you can tear down the barrier that exists between you and your patients, while providing them content and information they actually value.
Here are a few ways to use automation to your advantage:
Take some time to create pre-made emails that you send to your patients based on certain parameters.
For example, your practice could have a setup in place that registers when patients come to your office. This system could then trigger a follow-up email to them a day or so following their visit that lets them know that if they have any specific questions or concerns to feel free to reach out to your team. This little follow up – that would be signed and sent by the doctor who saw them, is enough to make them feel like they were more than just a number.
While you’re at it, you could also encourage them to write a review on behalf of your practice, which would then improve your overall marketing efforts.
Nervous about getting bad reviews?
Not a problem. In your email to your patients, you could create a safeguard against negative reviews. Something like the image below is a good example of what you could do:
In this instance, if the patient clicks YES, they’ll be taken to a review site of your choosing (Healthgrades, Google, Facebook, etc.). If they click NO, they’ll be taken to a landing page where they can fill out a form to air their complaints. That form is sent directly to you, rather than going live to a review site.
There is no limit to the level of personalization you can do with your emails. You could have a standard follow-up email for every possible scenario your facility faces: annual checkups; emergency calls; parents of children, and so on.
You could then set up emails to mark certain milestones or events. For example, it’s not uncommon for a car dealership to reach out to a car owner after a few years to remind them of the need for a tune-up.
You can take that same approach with your patients. For example, many health professionals believe that people should get their first colonoscopy at the age of 50. Since you have the date of births of your patients, you could trigger an email to patients who are nearing 50 that wishes them a happy birthday and reminds them that it’s time to consider scheduling a colonoscopy.
You could keep on providing health advice to your subscribers, based on their age, on the reason for their last visit to you, and more.
The average person interacts with their healthcare providers or specialists only when they have to. This type of relationship doesn’t forge a lasting bond of trust and transparency.
As a medical professional, you want to be seen as the trusted resource of medical information for your patients. You can achieve this through a periodic newsletter emailed to your patients.
Newsletters allow you to remain top-of-mind of your patients and provides your readers with valuable information.
Updates to your facility, healthy living tips, patient testimonials and stories – each of these can become a fabric of your organization’s newsletter. In fact, the content pieces that make up your newsletters can be used in many different ways for your medical or dental online advertising efforts.
For example, let’s say that you run a monthly newsletter for your hospital. As part of that newsletter, you conduct a Q&A each month on a different doctor. Aside from adding that Q&A in your newsletter, you can also post it on your website, and share it on social media. This is an amazing healthcare social media advertising strategy.
In other words, your newsletter becomes the anchor of your content marketing efforts. All of the articles and social updates you post feature elements of your newsletter, but at the same time, serve to strengthen your relationship with your patients.
Below is one page from a newsletter published by North Cypress Medical Center of Texas.
You’ll see that this page focuses on Prostate Cancer Screening. Not only does it serve as an informational piece for readers, but it’s also valuable digital marketing for hospitals: it promotes the upcoming free screenings.
Regain that personal feel of your practice
It might seem ironic to look toward technology to get more personal with your patients, but that’s exactly what automation aims to do. By setting up workflows and processes up-front, you can engage in ongoing conversations with your patients, with little effort on your part. By reaching out to your patients with content they value, and that’s relevant to them, you’ll stand apart from other medical professionals and will build the trust that is so vital toward the patient-doctor relationship.