How to Implement an Effective Patient Outreach Campaign

Author: Ravi Kalidindi
A doctor sits at his desk while smiling, talking to a patient, building a positive doctor-patient relationship.

Patient outreach is a valuable tool, and not just for one specific type of healthcare organization.

If your practice or facility hasn’t yet explored the benefits patient outreach can provide both your business and your patients, now is an excellent time to start. If you’ve already implemented patient outreach campaigns as a part of your patient engagement strategy, it’s important to ensure your efforts are producing the results you want.

Creating effective patient outreach campaigns isn’t all that complicated, but it still requires an effective strategy. To help you get the best return on your investment, we’re sharing some common (but costly) mistakes to avoid and the patient outreach best practices to follow instead. Read on!

Why Is Patient Outreach Important?

Patient engagement. Patient outreach helps patients play an active role in their own health outcomes.

Relationship nurturing. Patient outreach helps you build and maintain relationships with your patients. It positions you as a trusted resource who takes a proactive interest in patients’ health — not just someone who reacts when a patient calls with a problem.

Brand awareness. Patient outreach keeps your healthcare organization “top of mind” for patients. They may not need ENT, physical therapy, or orthopedic services all the time, but if you regularly communicate with patients and show them you care, who’ll they call when something does go wrong? That’s right — you!

How to Create a Patient Outreach Campaign

If you follow these steps, it’s simple to create a patient outreach campaign:

  1. Segment Data — Use clinical data and demographic information to segment your patient population (i.e., diabetic patients, patients who qualify for certain screenings, patients eligible for vaccines, etc.).
  2. Design Campaigns — Create targeted campaigns for each segment to reach those patients through appropriate channels: emails, or SMS.
  3. Include Next Steps — Include convenient mechanisms, like mobile-friendly online forms, when patients are expected to take a next step (i.e., requesting an appointment, scheduling a screening, filling out an application, etc.).
  4. Track Campaigns — Provide a mechanism for staff to track patient activity and follow up accordingly.
Infographic: How to Implement an Effective Patient Outreach Campaign

How to Implement an Effective Patient Outreach Campaign

While creating a patient outreach campaign may be simple, implementing an effective campaign is more of a challenge. If a campaign isn’t implemented correctly, it won’t have the desired impact on the patient’s health — which is the primary purpose for creating them!

Additionally, poorly crafted patient outreach campaigns won’t improve your business’s bottom line. Patients will eventually stop engaging with your messages, start ignoring them, and may develop a negative impression of your business. They may even begin to lose trust in you or question the authority, knowledge, or quality of your healthcare organization.

Fortunately, you can avoid these pitfalls by taking steps to follow patient outreach best practices:

Step #1: Make Messages Relevant

It’s essential to target your patient outreach campaigns to the correct patient segments to ensure no one receives irrelevant messages.

For example, you wouldn’t want to send a breast cancer awareness campaign to a 50-year-old male or a group of teenagers. Such a message would be irrelevant and unhelpful to those patient populations, and could cause them to tune out other notifications from your organization in the future.

You can avoid this pitfall by simply segmenting your patient population correctly.

Step #2: Make Messages Easy to Understand

Instead of using wordy or confusing language for your patient outreach campaigns, make your messages clear and concise. It’s no secret attention spans have been shrinking, and patients are no exception. If you don’t get to the point of your message almost immediately, you could easily lose their attention.

Step #3: Include Clear Next Steps

Suppose you want a patient outreach campaign to inform or educate patients about something you want them to do (schedule an appointment, leave a review, call the office, etc.). If you leave it to them to figure out or plan for the next step on their own, the likelihood of them completing the task plummets. Instead, make the next step as easy, clear, and straightforward as possible by providing it right there on their device.

For example, if a new non-invasive treatment is available in the office, include a link that allows patients to request an appointment right from the message.

Step #4: Make Messages Timely

It’s important to send messages at the right time — not too late or too soon.

If you want patients to take a certain action by Dec. 15, sending a message on Dec. 1 doesn’t give them a lot of time. However, sending the message in March isn’t helpful either.

Instead, try identifying a sweet spot for your message that gives the patient plenty of time to take action, but not so much that they put off the action until they forget about it. In this example, that’s probably October or November.

Step #5: Don’t Overwhelm Patients

If you want your patients to see you as an authority — one of the primary goals of patient outreach campaigns — only send them critical messages. Sending too many unimportant messages tells your audience they can ignore your messages because they aren’t urgent.

Overdoing patient communication can cause you to appear “spammy.” For example, you don’t need to send “season’s greetings” or “happy birthday” messages to your patients. It’s more important to send meaningful messages relevant to their health.

Step #6: Embrace Patient Outreach

While it may seem contrary to the previous point, don’t be afraid to send messages to your patients. Never or rarely sending messages defeats the purpose of patient outreach and causes you to miss out on a significant opportunity — staying top of mind when your patients need something.

Patient outreach campaigns help you establish authority and credibility with your patients and give them the ability to be proactive about their health care. By sending clear, relevant, and timely messages, you’re building and maintaining relationships that can improve your bottom line.

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Simplify Patient Outreach Campaigns with Simple Interact

Investing in the right patient outreach software makes creating, sending, and tracking patient outreach campaigns a breeze. If you’d like to request a demo of Simple Interact’s patient outreach software, contact us to get started.

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