Selecting an email service can be one giant headache that keeps many healthcare providers from venturing into email marketing.
A question that usually comes up is:
“What’s a good HIPAA compliant email marketing service to use?”
There are hundreds of email service providers (ESP) to choose from and not one that’s perfect for every situation.
Some email services are designed specifically for healthcare, there are applications for business use that can be modified to be HIPAA capable and there are ones not HIPAA compliant that should never be used.
Listed below are several free email services that are NOT HIPAA compliant:
- Gmail- Probably the most commonly used email program in the world is not HIPAA compliant. Google’s G Suite can be set up to be HIPAA capable.
- Microsoft Outlook- Microsoft’s free email and calendar tools are not HIPAA compliant. The business version in Office 365 can be made HIPAA capable.
- Yahoo Mail- Known for its ability to integrate email, social networking and instant messaging is not compliant.
- Apple Mail- Users of Apple devices are probably familiar with Apple’s email program. It is another free email program not suitable for healthcare communications.
Before we jump into my suggestions on selecting an email marketing service, I need to clearly state a disclaimer.
I’m not a HIPAA expert. I am not a lawyer nor do I have any HIPAA certifications. I recommend that you discuss any decision you make that includes protected health information (PHI) with an attorney that specializes in HIPPA compliance or is a certified compliance expert like Rick Gawenda from Gawenda Seminars.
In previous articles, I covered the best practices for getting started with email marketing and the do’s and don’ts of email marketing in a therapy practice. Read those articles to get an understanding the important issues to address with email marketing as a healthcare business. I put together a quick start guide for selecting a HIPAA compliant email marketing service that narrows down your choices. Get your HOW-TO Guide on Choosing an HIPAA Email Service
When therapy practices venture into the realm of email marketing, probably the number one question asked is:
Is Gmail HIPAA compliant?
Free personal email services like Gmail, Outlook, or Apple Mail were created to help people conveniently communicate with one another. Ease of use and readable text are higher priorities than security.
Because they are so easy to use there it’s tempting to use apps that you’re familiar with in your business to email prospects and patients.
Unfortunately, email services like Gmail are not designed for healthcare practices working under HIPAA regulations. Any emails through these services are vulnerable to privacy issues and if you’re not careful a HIPAA violation.
Gmail by default is for personal use and not business use. But there may be a workaround that might allow you to use Google products to send marketing emails that are HIPAA compliant.
When therapists struggle to fill their schedules they dream about being so well respected that patients flock to them. They believe the fallacy that if they just went to another seminar or earned another certification then the public would recognize them as an expert. They would somehow “corner the market” because no one else does therapy like them and gets the same results.
They would somehow “corner the market” because no one else does therapy like them and gets the same results.
We see course instructors that have mastered knowledge of a subject matter and seemingly have successful practices. When in reality they have learned how to give presentations and make money doing it. This may or may not translate into a steady stream of patients waiting for them when they return.
In these days of social media boasting, it seems like everyone is a self-proclaimed expert. It’s becoming more difficult to establish yourself as a true expert from all the pretenders out there. The number one rule of becoming an expert is to never call yourself an expert. That designation is for other people to determine not you.
The first step in becoming a recognized expert is to acknowledge that you are not going to help everyone in your community who needs you. There will always be people who do not choose you. Be honest with yourself, why don’t people choose you?
Be especially careful of any idealized self-image that can come with being a healer. It’s a huge persona to live up to and traps many therapists in a lifelong delusion. The more you are unaware of protecting your professional image, the more it will hinder important self-examination of why people don’t choose you.
But some people do choose you. Why?
Do you take your patients for granted?
When I think about the absolute essentials of a thriving therapy practice. Three essentials come to mind:
- Remarkable patient experience
- Remarkable provider-patient relationships
- Remarkable profit margin
In all of these factors, relationships play a vital role. You might say its all about relationships.
Unfortunately in the hurried pace of healthcare sometimes therapists take patients for granted. Some therapists have allowed the minutiae of insurance demands and government regulations to crowd the most important predictor of practice success–positive patient relationships.
Therapists tend to focus their resources on getting new referrals rather than retaining current patients for life. Choosing where to invest your energy and time can be challenging, especially when it comes to marketing. It’s tempting to look beyond investing in the patient relationship right in front of you to a referral stream that’s “out there someplace”. In reality, every one of your patients has the potential to become a referral source.
Some of you may believe you already know what your patients want and that you deliver exceptional service. But have you ever asked them what they think of your scheduling process, your payment policies or their satisfaction with the care they received from your assistants?
A loyal patient is not made just through great therapy, though obviously, results do matter. It’s paying attention to the essential details that make patients’ entire experience at your clinic exceptional. In order for your clinic to stand out, you’ll need to strive to execute the practice essentials with every patient.
A loyal patient is not made just through great therapy outcomes, though obviously, results do matter. It’s paying attention to the essential details that make patients’ entire experience at your clinic exceptional. In order for your clinic to stand out from the competition, you’ll need to strive to execute the practice essentials with every patient.
The question is how do I do this with so many demands on my time?
Don’t you wish you could read your patients’ minds?
At times it would be helpful to know what people are thinking and feeling when we interact with them. We do our best to motivate them to check out our services or follow through with their plan of care. Too often they just don’t seem to get it and we have no clue why.
Here’s what a prospective patient with back pain might be saying to themselves…
“Severe back pain just hit me again, and I’m anxious that I’ll have to take time off from work.
I can’t decide if I want to see a therapist or a chiropractor, I’ve heard good and bad things about both. Next, if I go with a therapist, I must decide which one.
I do a quick Google search and see there are two clinics the same distance from my work so I base my decision on which clinic has the easiest way to schedule an appointment; I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the phone.(which my boss hates)
An important factor for people like me when deciding where to get healthcare, is can I trust them. What’s their bedside manner like? How much time will it take? How much will cost? What will they do to me?
The problem for us is we don’t know what the experience will be like until we’re already there. That makes me a little anxious but this pain is killing me.
While I definitely prefer physical therapy to chiropractors, I also value my time, and I’m not going to spend a half a day just to get some help. I want the total experience to be something I can live with and afford.”
If a therapist created a patient journey map for this acute back pain patient they could quickly see an opportunity to capitalize on prospects who want to take the hassle out of healthcare. Creating a patient journey map can be a challenge but is well worth the effort.
We often think of first impressions of being when we come face-to-face with our clients for the first time. It usually goes something like this…a new evaluation appears on our schedules, we glance at the chart before we open the door, we greet the new patient by name and introduce ourselves. Perhaps we smile and shake their hand before we sit down on a stool to take their medical history.
The first impression right?
All of us want to create a good first impression with our patients. The rest of the treatment experience goes better if we get off to a good start. Unfortunately, we don’t know where first impressions come from nor do we know exactly when they happen. Somewhere in the patient experience, an impression is made about your practice that sticks with your patient long after they leave your clinic.
Influencing patients’ first impressions will go a long way in determining outcomes, loyalty and what they share with others. To probe a little deeper into creating positive first impressions and simple ways we might influence them I’ve invited someone that I admire that does this very well. He naturally and consistently forms good impressions on most of the people he encounters.
I’d like to introduce you to a guest author and good friend, Tom Kruse. Not the movie star but a physical therapist who is a rock star to those who know him well. I thought you all would benefit from hearing from therapists who are making an impact like yourself in your own quiet way. I’m blessed to interact with change makers on a weekly basis. Periodically I will provide them this platform to share their stories.
Probably like you, Tom is a therapy entrepreneur who wants to make a difference in the world. He successfully launched his practice in 2015 which has been growing steadily ever since.
Tom felt called to leave corporate therapy after 15 years to start his own practice. Even though highly successful at his previous employer, he found the pace difficult to sustain and less rewarding. He was getting home late for family dinners, shouldering more administrative responsibilities and had a gnawing feeling he wasn’t providing the best care he could.
Did you have several patients not show up for their appointments this week?
Join the club. I had my fair share.
Patient no-shows can be one of the most frustrating aspects of a therapist’s job, with good reason.
We put all time and effort into the initial evaluation, entering information into the EMR, calculating functional limitations, outlining the plan of care, designing a home exercise program(with handouts no less) only to have the patient be a no-show for their next appointment.
You’re confident they need your services and you’re more than capable of helping them reach their goals.
Despite how sincere and convincing you are, for one reason or another, you seem to have more no-shows than you’d expect.
Not only are no-shows exasperating they are a real time and money suck. No one gets paid for a no-show. Unfortunately, all the expenses related to missed appointments–staff salaries, rent, utilities, etc still must be paid.
While you can’t eliminate no-shows totally from your practice, busting common no-show myths can go a long way in reducing their prevalence. By slightly shifting your mindset and making a couple of changes you can create a patient experience patients will hate to miss.
How Are You Going To Stand Out?
Healthcare in the U.S. is going berzerk right now. Fierce competition has created a situation where therapists need to be recognized as the best–period. There will always be “therapy jobs” but there is less room for average performers to find a promising career path.
With therapy schools are pumping out more graduates year after year, how are you to find and keep a primo therapy job?
I believe the most important skill for therapists to develop will not be clinical, it will not be technological, it’s not economical/business acumen. It will be the ability to manage their own careers.
There has been an unprecedented change in the physical therapy profession. For the first time, a substantial and increasing number of therapists can choose what they want to do with their careers.
Therapists have an almost unlimited number of options of what they want to do with their lives. In addition, the average work life span is now close to sixty years and most therapists will have more than one career during that time.
For many of you, choosing a job will not be solely based upon salary and benefits. You might want a job where you can contribute to the good of not just society but the world.
The good news it’s now up to therapists to choose employment that is meaningful to them.
The bad news is it’s now up to therapists to choose employment that is meaningful to them.
Many therapists are unprepared for the responsibility and uncertainty that self-determination brings.