Newsletters are a low-cost, effective way to both educate patients and stay in touch with them to let them know about the services you offer. Assuming you have a practice website (if you don’t or if your site is due for an update, stop now and read this post), a relatively simple feature to add is an e-newsletter that patients can subscribe to or read online as new issues are published. Here are ideas about what to include in an e-newsletter, along with tips about how to make publishing one worth your effort.
Perhaps the biggest challenge when it comes to having a successful e-newsletter is getting patients to subscribe. Begin using a sign-up system in your office. To preserve patient privacy, offer individual small sheets of paper for patients to write down their e-mail addresses rather than a clip board that sits out for everyone to see. As you collect addresses, enter them into your newsletter system. Speaking of systems, take a look at Constant Contact, MailChimp, and MyEmma to see if one of these services will meet your needs.
We’re all inundated with e-mail, so if you want people to sign up for – and then actually open and read – your newsletter, you’ll need to make it valuable. Here are several types of information to consider including in your publication.
- Brief articles written (or ghostwritten) by practice providers on healthy living, preventive care, and changes in health screening recommendations based on recent research (e.g., when new information comes out that impacts how often women should get mammograms).
- Profile of a patient who has had a good experience at your practice. For example, someone who had a condition that was difficult to diagnose and finally found the answer they were looking for when they sought care with one of your providers.
- News about achievements such as a provider becoming board certified, having a research paper published, or otherwise being recognized for professional accomplishments.
- Links to important news stories related to health or healthcare delivery. Be careful not to link to articles that might be considered political or otherwise inflammatory in nature. There is a great deal in the news right now about the Affordable Care Act, and while it’s important for patients to understand the new system, not everyone agrees with it. Tread lightly.
- Staffing changes at your practice. Publish a photo and a brief bio on each new employee or provider as they arrive as a way to introduce them to your patients. Instead of a standard head and shoulders photo, take one of the individual who is being introduced at their desk, back office work station, or in an exam room.
- Policy changes that impact patients such as those related to office hours, scheduling, billing, or insurance plans you accept.
- A listing of upcoming health-related events in your community. This could include lectures being offered by the local hospital, health fairs that are scheduled, free screenings that are available, and opportunities for exercise and fitness such as charity walks.
Always include a disclaimer at the end of each newsletter that reads something like, “Information in this newsletter is not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.”