E-mailing patients: It's efficient, cheap

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Q. E-mail is such a great way to communicate with our employees. Can we also use it to follow up with patients?

A. E-mail is an excellent way to communicate with customers/patients. I see this as a way to accomplish three very important aspects for a business owner: customer service, compliance/reauthorization and, most importantly, increased revenue. When I suggest using e-mail for follow-up, I frequently get this reaction: "My customers are not using e-mail as frequently as the younger generation." The statistics show that seniors make up the fastest growing segment of Internet users. According to PewInternet.org, 71% of Americans ages 50 to 64 use the Internet.
Another demographic to keep in mind: CPAP patients. CPAP patients are typically middle-aged men with families and careers. Using a telephone to call during business hours makes it difficult to reach many CPAP patients. Auto dialers in the evenings can interrupt dinner and other family activities. With e-mail, patients can view the message at their leisure.
I recommend using e-mail to send out equipment maintenance letters, usage questionnaires, customer service surveys and reorder reminders. Many patients would order new equipment if they only knew they were eligible. Using e-mail typically takes little or no money for each individual message--unlike paper and postage. You don't need to send out e-mails individually; there are software programs such as "List Servers" and "E-mail Contact Management Solutions" available to assist you in your e-mail campaign. Some businesses even manage their e-mail campaigns by using Microsoft Excel for equipment reorder reminders.
Even if using e-mail for follow-up is not in your immediate plans, I recommend capturing as many e-mail addresses as possible now, so that in the future you will have them ready to use should you choose to use e-mail as a form of communicating to your customers.


Jeremy Kauten is general manager of VGM Forbin. Reach him at 319-235-7100 or e-mail jeremyk@forbin.com.