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Email marketing can be a powerful tool for hospitals and health systems to engage patients, drive loyalty, and grow their business. However, healthcare email marketing comes with its unique opportunities and challenges. 

In this article, we provide 13 tips tailored specifically for hospital marketers to optimize their email campaigns to better serve patients and drive results. 

Whether you’re looking to segment your list, improve deliverability, generate more clicks, or boost conversions, these best practices will help you connect with clients and strengthen patient relationships through email.

Why Hospitals Should Use Email Marketing

Email marketing is a must for hospitals and health systems seeking to boost patient engagement, revenues, and loyalty. Studies show that email generates $42 for every $1 spent, delivering the highest ROI of any marketing channel. 

Beyond increased earnings, email enables hospitals to enhance health outcomes by educating patients, driving preventative care, promoting telehealth offerings, sharing healthy living tips, and more. Segmented email campaigns also foster stronger patient relationships and brand affinity. 

With flexibility in messaging and the ability to automate nurture tracks and journeys, email does the heavy lifting of continually engaging patients. You can improve the efficiency of email marketing by utilizing the power of email marketing tools that are specifically designed to optimize your email campaigns.

Whether promoting high-margin service lines, driving pharmacy sales and medication adherence, reducing no-shows, or acquiring new patients, the benefits of email for hospitals are substantial. The high returns warrant carving out resources to maximize this digital channel.

1. Collect Emails at Registration to Build a Database

A robust email marketing strategy relies on building a substantial database of active subscribers. For hospitals, capturing patient and prospect emails needs to be a top priority. The first step lies in securing emails at registration and check-in. 

Leverage your EHR system to make the email field required rather than optional on intake forms. Train registrars to politely request an email when patients leave it blank, highlighting relevant benefits like access to the patient portal and health resources.

Expand your subscriber list by also collecting emails at other touchpoints. Add a checkbox or required email field to make email capture standard on physician referral forms, appointments scheduled online or via phone, telehealth visits, pharmacy interactions, and more. 

Having patients confirm their permission to send informational and promotional emails will further validate your list for deliverability and compliance.

To incentivize patients to provide their inboxes, consider offering an instant perk upon signup, like a free telehealth visit, pharmacy coupon, or gift card giveaway entry. This demonstrates immediate value while growing your subscriber file. 

Be transparent on the signup form about email frequency, content patients can expect, and easy opt-out. Alleviate privacy concerns by highlighting your hospital’s security measures to safeguard patient information. 

Utilizing diverse methods to aggregate patient inboxes, while being fully transparent on use, will equip your team to execute targeted, effective email campaigns.

2. Send Welcome Emails to New Patients After the First Appointment


As you start email marketing for your business, it’s important to make a strong first impression with new patients to lay the foundation for an enduring, fruitful relationship between the hospital and the client. 

Sending welcome emails to patients after their first appointment is an impactful yet overlooked tactic to immediately connect with and engage recent additions to your healthcare system.

The welcome email should first thank the patient for choosing your hospital and reinforce that they made the right selection as a trusted healthcare provider. Next, share a few highlights they can expect from your brand, like top-notch specialists, comfortable facilities, emphasis on whole-person care, and a convenient online patient portal. 

This aligns expectations while reassuring the patient’s selection. Offer an incentive for taking a post-visit survey to provide feedback on their initial experience. Use the survey data to continuously improve processes and address pain points.

Closing the welcome email, providing links and resources matching the patient’s condition and care plan, and showing personalization. A preview of upcoming educational webinars or relevant healthy living blog posts continues nurturing the new patient relationship. 

With a well-crafted, properly timed welcome email that leaves new patients feeling valued, understood, and aligned with your mission, you can boost patient loyalty and retention from day one.

3. Segment Patients by Department and Doctor

Email marketing success for hospitals lies in segmenting your subscriber list based on healthcare service categories. Start by grouping patients by department, such as cardiology, oncology, pediatrics, orthopedics, and more. 

This enables sending targeted content to subscriber groups that relate to their health conditions, recommended lifestyle changes, relevant clinical trials, new treatment options in their focus area, and other niche content.

Further, segment these groups by the specific physician that manages their care. This fosters a stronger patient-doctor relationship by keeping subscribers informed through email on the latest innovations, research, and thought leadership from their trusted provider. The doctor benefits from branding that strengthens patient retention within their practice.

Moving forward, continue looking for segmenting opportunities, like patients who have undergone a common procedure like knee replacement surgery or have the same diagnosis such as diabetes. Identify groups based on demographics, locations, health plan benefits, prescription drug usage, or risk profiles as well. 

While balancing privacy, savvy list segmentation equips hospitals to hyper-target content, personalize messaging, optimize engagement and open rates, and ultimately drive better health outcomes. Keep a finger on the pulse of emerging groups within your patient population to keep email content relevant.

4. Promote Health Classes, Screenings, and Events

Email marketing presents a prime channel for hospitals to promote educational community health classes, preventative health screenings, fundraising galas, health fairs, blood drives, and more. 

These outreach events cultivate positive public perception, drive new patient acquisition, raise charity dollars, and support population health – making them strategically important to promote.

Allocate a portion of your email calendar to consistently highlight upcoming events year-round. Share key details like class topics, speaking physicians, health screenings offered, event hours/locations, and registration or RSVP links. Segment event emails by specialty area when appropriate, for instance only sending baby care class details to your obstetrics patients.

With online registration enabled, track email click-throughs to assess subscriber interest and engagement. Follow up via email to ask attendees to rate their experience and provide suggestions to help refine future events. 

Prepare post-event thank you emails to attendees sharing select photo highlights and a quick survey to capture feedback for driving continual improvements. By promoting hospital-sponsored events through email, you can bolster community education, screening completion rates, and fundraising revenues over time.

5. Share Seasonal Health Tips and Preventative Care Content


Email presents hospitals as a conduit to supply patients with valuable preventative health and wellness information tied to seasons and awareness months. For example, summer heat waves lend themselves to sunlight safety tips, hydration advice, and heat exhaustion warnings. 

Winter’s cold and flu season allows for reinforcing the importance of vaccination, proper hand washing, cough hygiene, nutrition, and exercise to stay healthy.

Build seasonal info into your email campaigns to make content timely and relevant. Share safety precautions before common high-risk events like Fourth of July fireworks that spur hand injuries or dangerous pollution levels in certain weather conditions. 

Highlight monthly health observances like Heart Health Month or Breast Cancer Awareness Month with links driving to helpful resources on your website. Localize content by factoring in risks and recommendations specific to the region, climate, and demographics your hospital serves.

Consistently publishing seasonal watchouts helps position your healthcare system as a trusted resource committed to community education and prevention. Over time, email-driven preventative health messaging will help reduce unnecessary ER visits and hospital admissions. Strengthening your population’s overall wellness pays dividends across the continuum of care.

6. Utilize Email Campaigns for Appointment Reminders and Follow-Ups

Missed medical appointments from forgetful patients significantly impact hospital revenue and care quality each year. Email presents a convenient medium for automating appointment reminders to patients, reducing no-shows. Build reminders into your email sequencing to go out 1 week before, 1 to 2 days prior, and the morning of scheduled appointments.

Personalize reminder content with patient name, doctor visited, appointment date/time, and links to easily reschedule if needed. Track open and click-through rates to assess campaign effectiveness. Append location maps and validated parking instructions to set patients up for seamless facility access.

Post-visit follow-up emails allow closing the loop with discharged patients to improve satisfaction, adhere to care plans, and prevent readmissions. Email discharged patients links to aftercare instructional resources, health portal messaging options, and contact information if questions arise. 

After a timeframe passes, check in to see if the patient is recovering well. If they require a prescription, use email to stress medication compliance. Follow-ups demonstrate the hospital’s ongoing commitment to positive outcomes.

With convenient automation capabilities, email scales personal reminders and follow-ups to reduce missed appointments and keep patients healthy post-discharge. The improved continuity of care pays dividends for population health management.

7. Send Patient Satisfaction Surveys After Visits

Gauging patient satisfaction through post-visit surveys supplies hospitals with crucial feedback for understanding weaknesses and guiding improvements. However, getting patients to complete surveys can prove challenging. Here, email provides hospitals with an advantageous delivery channel.

Send a post-visit email survey 2-3 days after the patient has been discharged. The prompt timing while the experience remains fresh improves accuracy. In the email, emphasize that completed surveys help shape better care delivery for future patients. To incentivize participation, attach a coupon for hospital services or entry into a gift card raffle upon survey submission.

Construct surveys that are brief, mobile-friendly, and easy to complete. Use rating scales, multiple-choice questions, and open comment boxes to capture patient sentiment. Carefully evaluate results against internal KPIs like average waiting times, medication turnaround times, and admission process efficiency. 

For the most constructive feedback, follow up via phone call with patients who rated experiences poorly.

With email delivery of post-visit surveys, hospitals benefit from higher response rates and faster completion times compared to traditional mail. The digital approach provides assessment efficiency vital to consuming feedback and quickly addressing pain points. Patients play a more active role in bettering hospital performance through ongoing surveys.

8. Build a Loyalty Program with Health Perks

Email lends itself seamlessly to managing rewards programs that strengthen patient loyalty. Hospitals can take a page from retail and airlines by creating tiers that offer subscribers health perks as they engage more with your brand. 

Basic members may receive health tips or member-only webinars. Higher tiers grant free screenings, discounted pharmacy drugs, waived copays, gifts for referring friends, and access to an ask-a-nurse hotline.

Promote signup for your loyalty program through website banners, new patient packets, appointment reminders, and checkout screens. Make joining frictionless by only requiring an email and name. 

Leverage email to share member updates, newly unlocked rewards tiers, point balances, redemption catalogs, and perk expiration reminders. Automate relevant content tracks by membership level.

Monitor member engagement through open and click rates. Survey members by email to guide the enhancement of perks by health interest and demographics. A point-based loyalty program incentivizes patients to stick with your hospital while driving repeat visits. 

The tiered structure gives members something to aspire towards. For providers, increased retention and transactions make the investment in loyalty infrastructure well worth the effort.

9. Spotlight Top Specialists and New Treatments

Email campaigns present a prime channel for hospitals to showcase physician experts and announce new medical services. Highlighting award-winning doctors across specialties boosts reputation while nurturing patient trust. Featuring the latest treatment innovations demonstrates your commitment to continual advancement.

In emails, share brief spotlights on specialists who have received prestigious designations, published cutting-edge research, or made headlines for health discoveries. Include their credentials, achievements, patient success stories, and contact information to schedule consultations if relevant. 

You can amplify reach by asking spotlighted physicians to also share posts with their patient email lists.

For new offerings like state-of-the-art therapies, advanced diagnostic tests, minimally invasive surgical methods, or expanded telehealth, email enables extensive detailing of what patients need to know. Explain how patients qualify, benefits over old approaches, FAQs for access, and links to register interest.

The regular email cadence gives ample bandwidth to consistently publicize award-winning care teams and groundbreaking services. This strengthens the perception of your hospital as an elite provider equipped with top medical talent and technology to deliver outcomes. Patients feel more assured of receiving best-in-class treatment.

10. Offer Patients Subscription Options for Customized Content

Email enables hospitals to take personalization to the next level by having patients select their topics of interest for receiving tailored content. 

Build subscribed content categories around health conditions (cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.), life stages (pregnancy, infants, aging, teens), wellness topics (nutrition, exercise, mental health), and medical specialties (orthopedics, dermatology, gynecology).

On intake forms, allow new patients the option to subscribe to email lists related to their needs. Existing patients can update subscriptions by logging into their patient portal account or through preference centers linked in email footers. 

Use signup confirmation and welcome emails to suggest additional lists patients may benefit from based on factors like medications or past procedures.

With subscribed content categories, patients only receive hospital emails highly relevant to them. This increases open and engagement rates. Follow subscriber analytics to identify emerging topics to build new lists around. Send quarterly subscriber satisfaction polls to capture suggestions for improvement.

Optional content subscriptions foster stronger affinity through relevance while supplying patients with educational resources matching their interests. Patients access more tailored medical advice without information overload. For hospitals, self-selected lists promise higher email metrics and more empowered health consumers.

11. Send General Health Newsletters and Hospital Updates

A regular cadence of email newsletters and hospital updates nurtures continuous patient engagement. 

Dedicate a monthly or quarterly newsletter for coverage of general health and well-being articles like Eating Healthy on a Budget, Active Aging with mobility limitations, adolescent mental Health, remote patient monitoring devices, and more. These instill your brand as an educational wellness resource.

Complement with a separate monthly hospital newsletter announcement major updates like new physicians, service expansions, facility investments, achievement of quality milestones, awards won, research advances, and community health initiatives. This keeps patients informed while reinforcing hospital growth and industry leadership.

Allow patients to subscribe specifically to newsletters separate from promotional emails. Provide an archive linking to past editions on your website for easy access. Lead each newsletter with the most pressing and seasonally relevant article before additional content. Insert brief patient success spotlights to make storytelling part of newsletters over time.

Consistent health and hospital newsletters, when crafted thoughtfully, demonstrate commitment to community education, advancement, and outcomes. Patients gain awareness to utilize new services while referring family or friends. Delivering value beyond promotions earns reader loyalty.

12. Provide Online Bill Pay and Price Estimates in Emails

Streamlining billing processes improves patient satisfaction while securing faster payments for hospitals. Email presents a convenient medium for sending patient statements directly to inboxes. 

Include a patient portal link or integrated payment button to enable quickly paying outstanding balances online 24/7. Automate payment reminder emails for outstanding debts nearing or past due dates.

Ease common billing pain points by allowing patients to access price estimates for hundreds of common procedures via email. List the cash price, average insurance price, and patient’s specific out-of-pocket estimate based on benefits. Cost estimator tools populate emails with personalized procedure pricing in seconds.

Transparent upfront pricing alleviates billing surprise and friction after the fact. Confidence in reasonable prices drives patient acquisition in a competitive healthcare market. Allow patients to request pricing on additional services not listed. Track email open and click-through rates for estimates provided to gauge patient engagement.

Online bill delivery, reminders, and price visibility together transform billing from a traditional pain point into a streamlined process. Patients access required financial information in emails when needed. Hospitals reduce the uncertainty that delays payments. Win-win.

13. Continually Analyze Email Metrics to Optimize Engagement

Realizing the full impact of email requires hospitals to devote resources toward continual optimization driven by data. Establish processes for closely monitoring key engagement and performance metrics across campaigns. Tracking open, click-through, and conversion rates compared to email subscriber growth maps effectiveness over time.

Dig deeper by assessing metrics across patient segments like service line, diagnosis, demographics, and subscribed content categories. Identify lists outperforming or underperforming relative to their size and characteristics. Append the most successful subject lines, sender profiles, and calls to action to lower-engagement segments for improvement.

Make analytics actionable through monthly reviews to determine measurable Indices and benchmark against industry email statistics to contextualize your hospital’s standings among other healthcare systems. 

Let the numbers guide testing of new concepts like personalized subject lines, interactive content, appointment reminders after opening newsletters, or incentives to click through to online bill pay.

With constant vigilance of email analytics, hospitals can pinpoint subscriber groups and campaigns to double down on or overhaul. Optimize every send for engagement that moves patients along their health journey.

Email marketing presents a vital digital channel for hospitals to reach patients with valuable health resources while strengthening brand affinity and loyalty. By focusing email best practices on education over promotion, and prioritizing personalization and convenience, hospitals can drive higher engagement that measurably improves outcomes. 

Following these 13 essential tips, healthcare marketers can optimize their email strategies to better serve patients all while supporting business success through nurtured relationships that stand the test of time.

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