Got email addresses for some of the patients you haven’t seen in a while? Good. You actually have a pretty decent chance of bringing them back to your practice – at no expense to you. At RevenueWell, we’ve been very successful at helping our customers do just that by automatically sending out emails to severely overdue patients. So what makes a good patient reactivation email? Let’s take a look.
- A personal message: The first step in crafting an effective reactivation letter is coming up with content that feels personable and addresses some of the reasons why a patient may have skipped a hygiene appointment or two. Maybe they lost their insurance and need to be told you have great financing options. Maybe they don’t know you’re open during evenings and weekends. Maybe they’re just plain scared of you and need to be told you have the latest tools and technologies to make their visit comfortable. Bottom line is, there’s a reason they slipped through your recare communication program, and an effective reactivation letter should acknowledge that. That being said, people have a limited attention span when it comes to emails (which should be significantly shorter than your printed letters), so avoid overstuffing your communication with all the good reasons they should come back. It is actually best to try different angles over several spaced out attempts to increase the chance that the message will resonate. Many of our customers configure their RevenueWell system to take three separate attempts: at 9 months after the date of last visit, 12 months and 18 months. The last communication can actually be quite stern, telling patients that you will inactivate their chart and stop the regular reminders if they don’t give you a call within a week. It was quite surprising to me at first how well this approach works.
- An offer: Assuming that you’ve tried to recall the patient several times with no success, it’s safe to say they need an additional nudge to get them back into the chair. So give them a freebie. Some of our customers have done very well with free take-home whitening kits, small discounts off the patient portion of their bill, or even by extending their new patient incentive (say the $89 comprehensive evaluation and cleaning) to these overdue patients. Whatever small promotion you include will likely pay off, since you’re catching patients who may have otherwise gone to a different provider or neglected their care for even longer. There’s also a good chance that these overdue patients will probably need things done – so you’ll more than make up for your retention expense in production.
- A call to action: One of the most common mistakes people make in their recare and patient reactivation efforts is not telling people what they should do. This is very important, along with giving them several options to contact you.
- An expiration date: A big part of promotional marketing (which you are now doing with your offer) is giving people a reason to take action NOW. The reason TV infomercials are so effective is that these guys have that process down. (Buy one today and get 37 free!) Two weeks from the date of the message is usually a good guideline to use. Anything less, and they may just miss it in their inbox. Anything more, and there’s no longer urgency to act.
- A way to request an appointment on the spot: If you’ve done everything else right, the patient is now ready to do the right thing and come in to see you. But for all you know, they’re reading your email at 2:00 a.m. on their iPad before going to sleep. Giving them a way to request an appointment online and move on with their day or night is the last step in creating an effective reactivation email.