Gathering patient emails might be at the bottom of your priority list as a busy practice manager or physician. But having an up-to-date patient email list can make a huge difference to many aspects of your practice.
Having a patient’s email means you can communicate without playing phone tag, send them login info or reminders about patient portals, keep them engaged in their care with health information resources, and follow up on medical bills. And while a phone call can sometimes do the trick, email can be a much more efficient way to connect with your patient base and share important information about your practice.
Ok, so say you’re sold. You're ready to gather your patients’ email addresses. Now how exactly do you get them?
Collecting and maintaining a patient email list requires some work. But if you get creative with your methods, it doesn’t have to be too time-consuming.
Here are a few techniques we recommend to our eVisit providers who want to build their patient email lists.
Explain what email will be used for.
People are constantly asked for their email address these days: online, at retail stores, for membership deals. Managing email can be overwhelming and some patients might be resistant to giving their email out. Clearly explain the benefits to them if you have their email address on file. What will you be sending out? How regularly will you be contacting them? Chances are, once they know what to expect, they’ll be happy to give you their email address.
Set clear guidelines for what email shouldn’t be used for.
Email has many advantages, but it needs to be used in the right way. Make sure your patients know what not to send over email so that their personal health information stays protected. Include info in your practice handouts and consider adding a line about security to your email footers.
Ask for email at check-in.
Do patients fill out a sign-in sheet when they come in for an appointment? Add another column to the sheet to ask for their email. Take this opportunity to have front desk staff prompt the patient for their email and explain what it will be used for.
Ask for email when you confirm an appointment.
You can also have the receptionist ask for a patient email when they confirm an upcoming appointment. If you offer appointment reminders via email when possible, you can offer that opportunity to patients who haven’t yet given their email.
Add your practice email to practice marketing materials.
Another simple way to gather patient emails is to encourage them to email your practice. Once they email you, you’ll have that address recorded and you can follow-up with them to let them know about your email program. Add your practice email address to any marketing materials, your website, your social media accounts, and any public listings of your practice.
Include an email opt-in on your bills.
Include your practice email and an email opt-in space on patient bills. Simply add a space for the patient’s email. If you’d like to cut down on resources required to collect patient payments, you can also offer to send patient bills via email or online.
Ask for email on new patient forms.
Anytime you add a new patient to your practice, ask for their email. If the new patient turns in paperwork without the email address filled in, have front office staff prompt them for it and explain what it will be used for.
Confirm a patient’s email on regular basis.
Email addresses can change. It’s a good idea to check-in with patients regularly to confirm that you have the right email address on file. We recommend adding this as a step to an annual appointment.
Flag patients whose emails bounce and follow-up.
Another important part of maintaining a clean email list is tracking emails that don’t work. Each time your staff sends out an email, have them note any emails that bounce. Add that as a note to the patient’s record, and have staff ask for the patient’s email the next time they contact them.
While this list might seem long, you don’t need to use all of these strategies. Pick a few techniques that work best for your practice! The real key to gathering your patients’ email addresses is to incorporate it as a small step in your regular workflows. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to send out exciting practice news to all your patients and better engage them in their care.