5 Strategies for Building Your Patient Email Database

If your practice isn’t yet using an automated patient communication solution to confirm your appointments, engage your patients and increase treatment acceptance, please know that we won’t do any preaching on the subject in this blog post. All we know is that at some point you will.

For those of you who ARE using RevenueWell or a similar technology, you know that the software’s ability to do the work for you depends on the number of patients it can reach electronically. Sure, RevenueWell can send out postcards and call your patients for you – but the reason you probably got in the first place was to ditch paper postcards and dinnertime phone calls in favor of more Earth- and patient-friendly emails and texts.

And so the fun begins. Now you have to figure out how to feed your practice software patient emails for breakfast, lunch and dinner – while doing everything else you have to do at the front desk. Fear not: there are some simple ways to make email acquisition an effortless routine that will be immensely beneficial to your office:

  • Ask for emails as you check patients in: Are they a new patient? Make the email field a prominent part of your patient registration form. Updating their medical history? Ask for the email. Most practices find that just placing a “(Required)” label next to the email field drastically increases the number of addresses they collect this way.
  • Ask them for their email address before they come in for the first time. When a new patient calls to make their first appointment, ask them for their email address. This way, you can send them a quick “welcome to the practice” email, patient registration forms and even a “save the date” email for their appointment. What an incredible way to wow the patient before they ever step foot into the office!
  • Have your practice management software alert you when a scheduled patient is missing critical contact information. Eaglesoft, for example, has a feature called IntelliCare – something that can give you a pop-up message when the patient doesn’t have an email address on file. Once you see the alert, make sure to give the patient a reason (any reason, really) for why you’re asking. Some examples include a) “You’ll get a free monthly newsletter full of great health and savings tips”, b) “..so we can contact you about your appointment.”, c) “.. we sometimes send out time-sensitive promotions and discounts – and they’re only available to email subscribers.”
  • Incentivize your staff to get valid email addresses. Some offices we know pay their staff members $1 per email address they collect. If this seems like a lot of money, consider that this practice will pay for itself the first time you don’t have to send that patient a recall postcard or an end of year insurance letter. It will also help you promote elective services and stay in touch with your patients periodically. Trust us, it’s well worth the buck.
  • Use the good ol’ fishbowl. Have some fillable business cards sitting next to it – and tell your patients you’re doing a drawing for cool little prize (like a free whitening), and will announce the winner in your next email newsletter.

Most of all, develop the right attitude around asking your patients for their email. Be presumptive and insistent. You’re not begging them for the address – it’s something you need just the same as you need their home address or phone number. Ask for it with authority, tell them it will never be used outside your office communications, mention they can unsubscribe from your messages at any time – and know you’re doing this with their best interests in mind. Before you know it, you won’t have to send another postcard ever again.