NOV-DEC 2016

MedEsthetics—business education for medical practitioners—provides the latest noninvasive cosmetic procedures, treatment trends, product and equipment reviews, legal issues and medical aesthetics industry news.

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SERGEY NIVENS © GETTY IMAGES AUTOMATED MARKETING 36 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016 | Med Esthetics Advanced Marketing Tools Tracking patient procedures and product purchases allows you to create more targeted marketing campaigns and rec- ognize your most loyal patrons, but some EHR and practice management systems can help you go one step further by tracking patients' aesthetic interests and concerns. "When the patient comes in, you can have them fi ll out an 'interest questionnaire' that allows them to self-identify everything they'd like to change or enhance about themselves," says Merlo. "Some systems allow you to hand patients a tablet that has a questionnaire with a face on it. They can choose certain areas and highlight concerns, then that information is tracked through the system." Once you have addressed the primary concern that brought the patient to your practice, you can use the infor- mation stored from the interest questionnaire to send out targeted marketing email blasts. "This may not be an 'out of the box' function available from your practice management system, but it is a custom- ization you can add to many of them, including Nextech and PatientNOW," says Merlo. "Both companies have forms where you can enter what the patient came in for and then create a table within the system where you enter other procedures in which the patient expressed interest. Then you can pull reports based on those tables." Matthew J. Elias, MD, of Elias Dermatology in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, recently began working with a company called PatientPop that offers a variety of automated tools all centered around the practice website. "It hooks in with more than 70 local search engines and web queries to optimize your profi le, so you show up fi rst in Google and Bing," he says. "Patients can book appointments through the website it builds for your practice. PatientPop reminds them of their appointments, prompts them for reviews after their appoint- ments; and allows you to send ad campaigns to your mailing list through them." Considerations As you begin to integrate the growing number of automated patient engagement tools available, there are a few important considerations. One is permission. Before adding a new patient to your mailing list or loyalty program, you must get permission to contact them by email or text message. "It is important to document that they have opted in to receive communications," says Merlo. "Usually this is part of the initial paperwork. It says, 'I give permission for you to send periodic emails or updates.' If you're using text messaging, they need to opt in to that also. If you offer a newsletter signup or online booking on your website, the lead capture forms should include a check box that says, 'I agree to receive communications' as part of the terms of services." In order to avoid inundating patients with practice com- munication, keep track of the frequency—and any overlap of campaigns. Dr. Buford limits email communication to once a month. "My personal opinion is that more than monthly looks desperate," he says. "If there's any kind of breaking news, we might send out an additional email but we also have social media to communicate with patients— and that's more our breaking news outlet." When following up with patients who came in for a con- sult but did not book an appointment, Merlo recommends limiting follow-up to three contacts. "Right after the consult, send out a personalized email," she says. "One week later, send out a content-rich newsletter and then one month after that, send a 'Thinking about you' note. You can keep them in your database to receive your monthly newsletter and event invites." Successfully utilizing your EHR, practice management or third-party vendor services for automated communications also requires updated contact information, so it's important to look at ease of use when selecting providers to ensure your staff utilizes all available features. Practices should also create a protocol that encourages staff to regularly update patient fi les, including contact information and preferred means of communication at each appointment. "We ask patients to log into their patient portal and make sure their information is current before each visit. Then a staff member double checks the information when they come into the offi ce, because it is a garbage in, garbage out situation," says Dr. Rosenthal. "If you don't get good infor- mation, then you're not going to get good output. Docu- ment patient visits well, know what you talked about with them, know who you want to target with your marketing efforts and make sure the information is current." Inga Hansen is the executive editor of MedEsthetics.

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