When was the last time you received a personalised communication from a primary care, dental, acute or specialist healthcare provider?
No I don’t mean a referral or follow up appointment letter. I mean a newsletter, phone call, text or social media message – something that talked to you in an easy to understand language, which was interesting, engaging and relevant to you and your health needs, or those of your family.
It has been proven time and time again that patients, service users and members of the public respond more positively to personalised messages rather than to mass promotions. And patients themselves, like customers, time and time again complain that they aren’t engaged with as individuals.
Personalising your communications is essential, not only for targeting key health and well-being messages, but also for motivating patients to invest in building an ongoing relationship with you and your organisation.
Where do I start?
Start by asking patients how they would like to receive communications from you, and how often - by enabling people to choose whether they want to receive information via email, snail mail, text or social media, you’re recognising their personal preferences.
The more specific and targeted you can be with your communications messages, the more likely you are to engage positively with your patients/healthcare customers. Simple actions including; sending a polite reminder about their future appointment, follow-on Friends and Family test questions, offering helpful healthcare tips for people following a procedure or diagnosis, to health and well-being hints and tips, and thanking them for their feedback or suggestions - all send a positive personal message.
Information is king
Data is the key to enabling you to really personalise your messages effectively.
By analysing your patients/customers – their socio economic backgrounds and their behaviours and health conditions, you can learn more about their potential preferences and interests. This in turn will enable you to provide personalised engagement-rich content through videos, articles, social media posts, blogs, and newsletters, which will appeal to your patients/private healthcare customer segments on an emotional level. For example, writing blogs and newsletter content for parents with young children, and for people with different dietary requirements such as gluten-free, vegetarian, dairy-free, and low salt diets etc.
Offering an online forum where customers/patients can exchange health and well-being tips, recipes, discuss health topics, ask questions and provide friendly suggestions and feedback based on their experiences, is also another way of encouraging personalised communications and engagement to flourish.
The way forward
There are so many reasons why from both a health and a business perspective, personalised communications and engagement are the way forward. The healthcare industry as a whole is still missing some vital tricks by not effectively targeting and personalising their communications with patients, service users and their families.
Promoting, encouraging and nurturing self-help and well-being practices benefits both patients and healthcare providers alike. Whilst developing a more informed and involved patient/client base will also boost respect levels and reduce DNAs and inappropriate use of services.
So let’s all make a pledge to improve how we communicate with patients, carers and clients this year – let’s really start to turn things round for the better.
I hope that you found this post interesting and useful. If you want to find out more give me a call – always happy to have a chat and to answer any questions and help out.