Podcast #67

Don’t Turn Your Back on Existing Patients: How to Boost Revenue with Reactivation

Typically, healthcare marketers often stay hyper-focused on new patient acquisition. Unfortunately, this stance means that many groups leave money on the table by ignoring a much warmer audience— the existing patient.

Episode Highlights:

Lauren Leone: “We get asked often if digital advertising can support reactivation. While the short answer is yes, the long answer is that is not the most efficient use of those dollars. There are other channels and ways to do this. Often what I’m asking is what does your tech stack look like? What kind of two-way communication, reminder, text, e-mail programs, do you have set up? Those are the easy wins. Those are the ‘I need to see a dentist every six months,’ and I should be proactively reaching out to patients to remind them that it’s time to schedule again.”

Related Resources

Announcer: Welcome to The Ignite Podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.

Alex Membrillo: Man, today’s going to be fun. We often talk about net new patient acquisition. You know what we don’t talk enough about is patient reactivation. It’s a lot cheaper to get that patient coming back in than to find a net new. I’m obsessed with net new patient. Activation is more of what Cardinal does. Let’s start reactivation because today in this recessionary year, you listen in 2023. I imagine we are still in this downturn. Budgets are getting script, and we have to get more out of our marketing dollars. Reactivating your existing database makes a heck of a lot of sense this year.

Lauren Leone, indomitable, indispensable, undefeatable, welcome to Ignite.

Lauren Leone: I’m sitting on this side of the table this time.

Alex: Yes, she gets to just answer the questions. We’re tired because we’re running around consulting with all kinds of groups. This is a fun year. Finally, we’re back in vogue. It’s easy to just continue to grow, grow, grow, and the economy’s killing and it’s like we just need to find more clinicians. Now it’s back to reality. How do we make more out of marketing? I personally love this year. I know a lot of people don’t, but this makes for better organizations, better care because we get back to making sure patients have access.

Anyways, let’s get to it. When you think about reactivation, what comes to mind, Lauren? How does it best get done? How do we get patients back in?

Lauren: We get asked often if digital advertising can support reactivation. While the short answer is yes, the long answer is that is not the most efficient use of those dollars. There are other channels and ways to do this. Often what I’m asking is what does your tech stack look like? What kind of two-way communication, reminder, text, e-mail programs, do you have set up? Those are the easy wins. Those are the “I need to see a dentist every six months,” and I should be proactively reaching out to patients to remind them that it’s time to schedule again.

I take my kids to the pediatrician, they go every three months up until two years of life, and I’m being reminded via text that it’s time to book my next X number of appointments. So that I don’t end up in a situation where I’m seeking an appointment. There’s nothing available and maybe I go and pick a different provider. Those are the easy wins. There are higher consideration healthcare scenarios where it’s not as easy as that. It’s not a “you’re meant to come in every six months, so let’s just remind you, and that’s how we keep you active.”

The scenario I do use this one a lot, which is you go in for an MRI on an ACL, and no one from that practice is checking in with you to say, “We have your results. Let’s bring you in to review them. Let’s get you on this surgery schedule.” You’re just letting you [unintelligible 00:03:10] as a prospect because there’s no proactive communication. There’s a lot of ways e-mail, text, in particular when you have known contact information that you can reach those and reactivate those patients.

Alex: You can do e-mail or text. Why are groups doing this? Even in the higher acuity, we talked about the appointment dropoff. I did get my ACL. I got the MRI and then no one from this hospital system in Georgia hit me up after you get me scheduled, which was crazy. Then, I went to a different system. That’s nuts. Even after you get your ACL repair, you don’t need an orthopedic surgeon. How do you stay in contact or what’s the point to stay in contact on the higher acuity service lines like that?

Lauren: If you’re part of a larger system, which oftentimes they are, or there’s ancillary even referral situations, just to stay top of mind with those individuals. If you’re a practice or a provider that’s part of a larger system, undoubtedly that system has other areas where you can service that patient. You can keep them in the know about your mammography services in October. You can let them know about wellness clinics that you have coming up or flu shots or whatever it may be to keep them active.

So that what if and when they do need you again for any type of service surgery discovery of an issue, that they choose you. They don’t go back to the internet search a non-brand term and then up they’re picking someone that maybe comes up above you on that given day on that given search.

Alex: Absolutely. The patient journey is evolving to where a lot is being influenced off of Google and someone on social media within Facebook groups and stuff like that. Something I see groups not doing, even if it’s just getting really into cardiology and oncology and orthopedics. Even if you’re just an ortho group and they got their ACL repaired, athletes know other athletes. I’m not an athlete hence tearing the ACL five minutes into the basketball game when my kid was watching. Once I’ve gotten a repair, these people still play ball with other people that are going to tear stuff.

Send a weekly long article. You don’t need to be texting them because that’s an appointment reminder thing, but send educational articles so you stay top of line. When their friend turns their ACL or their friend needs to go in for a mammogram, whatever it may be. Send weekly stuff. Let’s get back, you mentioned e-mail and text. When is appropriate? Which one is appropriate for what and what type of practice?

Lauren: You alluded to it. Text nowadays in some cases in the right cases is built into your patient management or EHR so that those appointment reminders are automated. Not everyone has that. There’s additional programs like Podium for example, that does the text for review generation, but also has two-way text ability in other ways, appointment reminders. You have to set it up. You have to have the patient information. You have to know and be synced into the EHR so that you know what they were last in when they’re due again.

When their benefits are up for use, that’s another really good one that we should talk about. Text is best for that. Text is good for, can you confirm your appointment? Oh, you need to reschedule. Text me the time that you’re able to come and not letting a canceled appointment become attrition. E-mail is where it gets a little bit more complex because a lot of groups don’t have CRM or e-mail delivery systems. They don’t have clean data, they don’t have the ability to create audience cohorts based on last interaction or why they came to see you, or what they reached out about.

Alex: Where do you start?

Lauren: I would look at first let’s just get a CRM. Let’s know who our patients are, who’s active, who is former, who is related to who in terms of family members and households.

Alex: Somehow these integrate with EHR so that it stays up to date with the patients that are coming in.

Lauren: Yes, ideally. Leads can come in through a CRM and then it acts as a database of all opportunities. Opportunities that were patients and were not patients. Let’s not forget about the people that call in or fill out a form and maybe you don’t have an appointment that meets their needs at a given time, doesn’t eliminate them from being a prospect.

Alex: You’d want to wait. That’s a good point that non-converting leads, maybe they ended up going with a different provider, doesn’t show up. That’s happening a lot. The person out of the front office doesn’t get the insurance checked quick enough. Stay on them, keep e-mail. You get a CRM, which ones do you recommend?

Lauren: You’ll hear us say Salesforce because it’s the most sophisticated and integrates. It’s got integration’s already built so there’s some ease there. It’s the higher ticket. If you’re considering something in the very early stages you may look at a HubSpot, which is free. It really just depends what you plan to store in it. Hubspot is not HIPAA-compliant, but in theory, a CRM should not contain health information, so it shouldn’t matter.

Alex: Good point there. Even if the tool is not HIPAA-compliant, it can still be used in HIPAA-compliant ways. I love Salesforce, but it’s not the only game in town. You get CRM and then what?

Lauren: Let’s start with something simple like a monthly outreach to keep the brand alive. Something about the brand you can do new providers, new location announcements, just general information to the whole user base. That’s the easiest thing to stand up. Getting a little bit more sophisticated looks like developing some of those audience cohorts. Maybe looking at active versus non-active patients. You can look at your converted versus non-converted so people that never came in to see you.

Just starting to build some of those more nuanced groups. Then you can get a little bit more sophisticated and perhaps understanding geography and how that may impact it or whatever segments you may have, you can create segments [crosstalk]

Alex: What service they came in for general derm, let’s convert it to a Botox or whatever and then start sending it.

Lauren: Yes. Those are the instances where you do want to be using a HIPAA-compliant e-mail program. It’s just a matter of what you’re selecting.

Alex: Could you do a job for the multi-site groups? Don’t send stuff on Denver if you’re in Atlanta.

Lauren: Yes. If a new provider is joining the family location and I’m in that area, then that’s relevant information to me but if I’m in Dallas, Georgia, that’s a waste of an e-mail.

Alex: If look at e-mail marketing programs, I don’t know anything about it. Look at our groups. One of our clients, Susan.

Lauren: I will be the first one to admit that is not an area that I’m an expert in. You see things like Emma, we use active campaign. There are platforms. MailChimp, there are basic platforms that don’t have to be healthcare specific that you can use.

Alex: Is MailChip good enough? We use MailChip.

Lauren: It gets the job done for your basic newsletters, your basic press releases, your basic announcements of information. It’s cool to be updating on new technology that you’re bringing in innovation in your practice, revamping of your facilities modernization, whatever it may be. That’s the general information that doesn’t require super sophisticated delivery.

Alex: Just send something every week, don’t remind me you’re there. You at least get the referrals from their friends. You don’t have to overcomplicate. It’s very simple, send all your patients previous or current, something educational every week.

Lauren: I would say weekly is a bit much. [crosstalk] That speaks to who you are, Alex.

Alex: All right, good. What else do we need to know about reactivation? Direct mail? Does that work? Does anyone use that?

Lauren: Direct mail is interesting. I see it used most for healthcare decisions that are impacted by a move. Those are usually the lower acuity things, like a dentist, a dermatologist, an OB, a pediatrician. If you’re moving within a significant distance for a certain, dentist, if I move five miles, that may very well be the trigger for me to find a new dentist. I want it to be super convenient. There’s a million. If I’m talking about my OB or my pediatrician, maybe that move distance or tolerance is a little bit greater because you have a rapport.

That is a use case where direct mail tends to be quite effective. You’re looking at address changes and you’re sending direct mail information, an offer, a new patient, whatever it may be to let them know that they’ve just moved inside the relevant area of your practice, and they know that you’re potentially looking. “Come on in, book an appointment.”

Alex: You’re grazing in our field now, we so get you. I want every provider group to get really good at e-mail because it’s really good. This is not the topic for today. We’ll do this another time. Also activating and re-reactivating the referral partners, like you mentioned PCPs or whoever it may be for you. Getting them, keep reminding them of your content, your technology, anything innovative we’re doing so you keep getting more referrals. I think something else I heard that was really interesting from Theresa Pulickal pelvic rehabilitation.

She’s getting her referring partners onto their Instagram and TikTok channel doing content partnerships. That referring provider learns about Instagram or TikTok and they get fresh content and they keep the partnership. That’s everything that comes to mind, I think, for reactivation. Anything else?

Lauren: Yes. I would say it’s a good cross-selling tool. An example, we’ve got clients in the optometry space and I go in for my general eye exam but there are things like LASIK for example. Some of these more elective procedures that you want to sell. That’s a great example of information that you could be pushing. You can do, use it, or lose it. Benefits announcements. You can do seasonal allergy reminders. There’s some more nuanced campaign-based initiatives as well to reactivate.

Think about what is unique to your business, what you can offer, what promotions you have, or what could trigger someone to say, “Yes, I’ll go back in for my appointment or for an additional appointment.” Talk about something that I didn’t initially, go in for.

Alex: Consumerization of healthcare, we are selling, we are providing services. It is our job to give patients access to the care they need. If they’re tired of those glasses, it’s time for LASIK. There ain’t no shame in the game. Lauren, thank you for joining us on Ignite. Hope you guys enjoyed today’s episode. If y’all need anything, hit up Lauren. Way smarter than me. Thank y’all for listening.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing? Subscribe to our podcast and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our [email protected].

Healthcare Marketing Insights At Your Fingertips

Listen and subscribe to Ignite wherever you get your podcasts.

Get Started

Ready to Grow?

Great partnerships start with great discoveries. We start with your business goals and budget, and then help you find the right digital marketing strategy to fuel growth.

Fill out the form to get started!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.